It just wasn't meant to be.
The Merritt Centennials (7-3-1) were eliminated from the BCHL playoffs, losing 6-2 to the Penticton Vees (4-2-1) in game seven of their second round series Monday night. The Vees outplayed the Centennials for the majority of the game, and the Centennials' season came to a halting end in a heartbreaking fashion. Cade Gleekel and Zach Zorn had the only goals for the Centennials, and Jake Berger made 22 saves in the loss. Cents Head Coach/GM Joe Martin felt his team wasn't dictating play enough.
"I felt our team was slow at times, and sort of let the game happen as it came. We didn't take control of anything. We were too selective in our shots, and to only get 16 shots on net in a game like this is pretty tough."
The game got off to a wonderful start for the Centennials. Zach Zorn moved into the attacking zone, got past a defender and unleashed a seeing eye wrist shot from the top of the circle that beat Mat Robson over his glove to open the scoring 1:15 in. That was Zorn's fourth of the postseason, and third in as many games. Unfortunately that was the only thing that went right for the Centennials. The Centennials shortly afterwards took a penalty, and on the resulting powerplay the Vees tied it up when Taylor Sanheim - making his return to the lineup after missing the entire series - snapped a wrist shot over the glove of Jake Berger. Penticton added one more in the period, a goal from Nic Jones at the 10:14 mark.
The Centennials' 7 shots in the first period would be the most they would get in any period. The Vees took two penalties within ten seconds, both key penalty killing defenseman. The Centennials had a great opportunity to tie things up, but couldn't muster much and the Vees stole momentum by killing off the lengthy five on three. The Vees then scored the eventual game winner on a bad break for the Centennials. After a missed pinch in the neutral zone, the Vees got a two on one, with Nic Jones racing down the right side. He fired a cross crease pass that hit the leg of Zach Metsa and went in the net to make it 3-1 Penticton. The Vees added one more in the period when Duncan Campbell deflected home a point shot at the 18:20 mark.
The Centennials couldn't do much in the third period, as much of the period was spent deep inside the Centennials zone. After the Centennials failed to capitalize on an early powerplay, the Centennials ended up taking two penalties 40 seconds apart, both to defenseman. On the ensuing two man advantage the Vees made it 5-1 courtesy of Taylor Ward at the 6:21 mark. The Vees then made it 6-1 just over two and a half minutes later when Chris Klack fired home his second of the post season. The Centennials were reeling, but managed to get one goal late in the period from Cade Gleekel. The team could only manage four shots on net, and dropped game seven, and the series, 6-2.
NOTES: The Centennials went 0/6 on the powerplay, while the Vees finished 2/5 on the powerplay. For many of the players, this was their final game in a Merritt uniform. Michael Regush, Brett Jewell, Cade Gleekel, Zach Court (who did not play), Stephan Seeger, Nick Fidanza, Mike Faulkner, Zach Metsa, and Aaron Murray all will not be back next season as they are either a graduating player or will be playing in the NCAA next season. The Centennials fell to 1-6 in game sevens all time. This was the first game of the series where the team that scored first lost the game. Penticton will move on to play the Vernon Vipers in round three.