The Merritt Centennials came into the game short 2 D-men, but they came out with their first victory of 2020 against the Prince George Spruce Kings 5-2.
After a first period that saw the teams trade a pair of chances on the powerplay, it was Haydn Delorme of the Spruce Kings who broke the deadlock scoring the only goal of the period at even strength. Before that, Brophy Dunne was goaded into a fight with Wil Kushniryk and after a brief wrestling match the Cents found themselves down to 3 D. Shots after 1 were 12-7 Merritt.
In the middle frame, the Cents didn’t have time to be sorry for themselves and took it to the offensive side of the game. With Josh Van Unen filling in more than admirably on D, the Cents were able to score three unanswered goals to take the lead. Rylan Van Unen was let loose down the right wing and saw some daylight, barged his way to the net and beat Woodside short-side to get the Cents going. On the ensuing shift after a hold at the line by Johnston, Evan Benwell walked out of the corner untouched and took it to the net roofing a backhand to make it 2-1. The Cents weren’t done there as a few minutes later after killing off a Spruce Kings penalty they broke up ice, and Payton Matsui threw a pass to the slot that was partially broken up, but Hunor Torzsok found the loose puck to put the Cents up 3-1. In the final minute, the Spruce Kings were able to beat Ryan Winter after he may have been interfered with to cut the lead to 3-2 before the third. Shots after 2 were 24-11.
With the game on the line in the 3rd period, the Cents clutched up on special teams. With Brodziak in the box for roughing, it was Talon Zakall who led the charge with the extra man after playing extra minutes all night. His point shot was deflected by Matsui in front and the Cents had a two goal lead. Once again it was Matsui who led the charge shorthanded, after a partial break he didn’t just throw the puck down the ice but skated and waited for reinforcements then found Torzsok with his stick on the ice in the slot to get the shorthanded tally. The Cents didn’t look back from there and Ryan Winter stopped 34/36 in the 5-2 win, the Cents first of 2020.
After the game, Head Coach Derek Sweet Coulter the Cents may have been short, but it was a full team effort.
“I think we finally saw the whole team buy in, and the whole team play for the full 60 minutes tonight. The offense was back checking, we were doing the little things right, we kept it simple, and we won the game.”
The Cents will carry the good vibes into the Ice Breaker Saturday night at the Civic Centre before carrying the momentum into a game at home against Joey Berkopec and the Coquitlam Express on Tuesday.