Goals were hard to come by, but penalties weren't in the preseason closer on Friday night. The Chilliwack Chiefs visited the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena to take on the Merritt Centennials, and despite the many powerplay opportunities neither team could convert. The Chiefs eventually got the heartbreaking goal in double overtime to win 2-1.
The first period saw 6 penalties in total. The Cents went to the box on two occasions. Lucas Yovetich got the first penalty of the game at 2:16 of the period, and the Chiefs didn't manage to get a shot on their first powerplay. In fact, the Chiefs didn't manage to get their first official shot until 12 minutes had expired in the 1st period. The Cents finished the first period 0/3 on the powerplay, while the Chiefs went 0/1. Shots by the end of the 20 minutes of play were 10-7 in favour of the Cents. Both goaltenders looked sharp in the opening frame. Jacob Berger was in his best shape of the preseason stopping all Chiefs players, but his counterpart Daniel Chenard was equal to the task as well.
In the second, the parade to the penalty box continued. Matt Kopperud and Powell Connor had offsetting minors, as did Rylan Van Unen and Kaden Pickering, and Auston Ghiradelli along with Lucas Albert. Needless to say, there was a lot of stick work after whistles, pushing, shoving, and face washes as neither team was backing down from the physical challenge. The Cents managed to kill off two penalties late in the period before they got a big opportunity just as time expired in the second. Bobby Young of the Chiefs got a two minute minor for tripping, and his teammate Wyatt Elmer received a 2 minute minor and 10 minute misconduct on the same play. The Cents didn't manage to convert with what time was left in the period on the two man advantage but would have a great opportunity to start the third.
Despite good puck movement on the 5-on-3 powerplay to start the third, the Cents only managed one shot with 1:47 of time to try and solve Chenard. The Chiefs and Cents went off in tandem yet again during the third period after Tyrell Buckley and Jared Turcotte got into a mix up. The Cents got a chance to go ahead when Chiefs forward Ryan Miotto went to the box with around 13 minutes to go in the third, but once again they couldn't convert with the man advantage.
However, shortly after they finally did break the deadlock. New winger, Christian Sabin, streaked down the wing, and as he was looping around the far side corner about to head behind the net he threw a pass right onto a waiting Alex Bourhas in the slot between the hash marks who ripped it mid-blocker side on Chenard for the first goal of the game. It came with 11:58 to go in the third.
After the Cents broke the goose egg, the Chiefs came to life, pressing even harder than before. It didn't take them long to convert as just over a minute later Skyler Brind'Amour, son of NHL'er Rod Brind'Amour, was well positioned in front to bang home a rebound off a Harrison Blaisdell shot to tie things up at ones.
That's how the game ended after 60 minutes of play, and the Cents were off to overtime for the first time in the preseason. The Chiefs got a penalty early into the first overtime period, but the Cents couldn't convert on the 4-on-3. Joey Berkopec took a penalty late into the overtime period, but the Chiefs couldn't convert before the end of the 5 minutes of extra time.
In the second overtime, with Joey Berkopec sitting in the box, the Cents managed to kill off the nailbiting penalty. However, moments after the penalty expired newly minted captain of the Chiefs, Will Calverly, ripped a shot over the shoulder of Berger for the double OT win. The Cents were 7/7 on the penalty kill, but were 0/9 on the powerplay.
The Cents showed lots of pushback and resilience in what was one of their most consistent performances of the preseason against one of the powerhourses in the BCHL. But after 5 games of the preseason the Cents fell to 1-4, with their lone win coming in the preseason opener. The roster currently sits at 27 players, and needs to get down to 23 for the start of the regular season next friday against the Penticton Vees.