In the Merritt Centennials and the West Kelowna Warriors it was a clash of the two top offenses in the Interior Division, and they didn’t dissapoint combining for 12 goals as the Centennials scored 8 to the Warriors 4 to take the first clash of the season.
The party didn’t take long to get started as Brad Cocca lit the lamp just 2 minutes into the game with a wrap around goal through the wickets of Brock Baier of the Warriors. But the shortly after the momentum would swing in the Warriors favour, Mike Hardman got one up high, short side past Austin Roden who made the start, and Willie Reim would add two as they’d score 3 unanswered. The BCHL media timeout came later in the period with 6 and a half minutes to go, and instead of unleashing on his team, Head Coach Joe Martin gathered the boys around and built them out. It paid dividends almost immediately as the puck was won back to Brady Ziemer and he tallied his first in the BCHL. That would swing the pendulum back in the Centeniials favour, as Brendan Schneider would find the back of the net from the slot, and Matt Kopperud would add a highlight reel goal for the ages by dangling the defender and juking the netminder to make it 4-3 Cents after 1. Austin Roden stopped 8/11 shots, but seemed to turn a corner mentally after allowing the third goal. Baier stopped 10/14.
The second period didn’t produce nearly as much offense as the first as only a goal was scored on each side. The goal for the Cents came on the powerplay up 2 men, and Mathieu Gosselin scored his team leading 9th goal of the year. The Warriors kept within one with a powerplay goal of their own from Tyler Pang, who had his first of the BCHL as well. Away from the scoreline, Head Coach of the Warriors Geoff Grimwood was thrown from the game after becoming too heated on the bench. Through two Roden stopped 18/22 while Baier saved 26/31.
The final frame was penalty filled, and the Cents took advantage. They’d add three to the scoreline: Brad Cocca would get another goal on the powerplay, Vincent Guy locked and loaded for his first of the season, and Mike Van Unen added a late marker on a 2 man advantage to tally his second in as many games. Roden picked up his 5th win of the year by stopping 29/33 while Baier was peppered with shots and fell to 1-2 by saving 40/48.
After the game, Head Coach Joe Martin applauded the play of his whole team.
“You have to give a lot of credit to the team, and a lot of credit to Austin Roden. We talked a lot about playing with intesity, and after talking about it in that first BCHL timeout, we found it, and elevated our game.”
The Cents next play on Sunday Afternoon in a rematch against the Cowichan Valley Capitals. Puck Drop is 2pm and it’s an A&W family day – 2 parents and 2 students/kids can get in for $20. Come cheer on your first place Cents!