The Merritt Centennials came into game 3 looking to take the series lead, but instead got their goaltender chased in a 5-2 loss.
For the first time in the series, there were no goals and no penalties after the first period of play. Early on it looked to be a goaltending duel with Austin Roden stopping 10 shots, and Donovan Buskey keeping all 13 he faced out of the net.
The goaltending battle didn’t last into the second period, the Smoke Eaters scored 3 goals in the first 6 minutes to chase Austin Roden from the crease and force affiliate player Jackson Glassford into action. Glassford took a while to adjust to his first taste of BCHL action, and allowed a goal in his first 6 minutes of action, but from then on the Cents started to seize back momentum. Jackson Munro took a high sticking call after the goal against, and the Cents situation seemed to go from bad to worse. Then Brad Cocca happened. On the penalty kill, Head Coach Joe Martin elected to put Cocca and Nick Granowicz on the ice, and after a Cocca steal he broke in from the left wing side with a move to the back hand tucked it past Buskey to get the Cents on the board. The Cents would go 4-on-4 shortly thereafter because Chase Stevenson repeatedly ran young Glassford. The Cents would finish the period trailing by 3, 4-1. Shots after 2 were 28-18.
The Cents got a breath of life early in the third period when Payton Matsui flew down the right wing, and centered onto the tape of Daniel Tkac who beat Buskey upstairs to get the Cents within 2. Despite pouring the pressure on, and creating chances, the Cents would go unrewarded and the Smokies would ice the game with an empty netter to make it a 5-2 final. Final shots were 42-27.
The Cents now trail the best of 7 series 2 – 1 and will play a pivotal game 4 tomorrow night at 7pm. A win and they head back to Merritt tied, a loss and they find themselves in a 3-1 hole.
Puck drop tomorrow night from the Trail Memorial Arena at 7pm.