For the second time in two nights, the Merritt Centennials were in action, this time against the newcomers to the Interior Division and last years league leaders, the Wenatchee Wild.
The Cents appeared to learn their lesson from the night before against the Vees where they got down two goals early. They were skating with pace, and actually had the speedy Wenatchee Wild on their heels for the first 5 minutes of the game.
On a play that started in their own end, Mike Van Unen was able to collect the puck behind goaltender Jacob Berger, skate up the left side to his own blue line then laced a nice cross ice pass to new forward Mathieu Gosselin. Gosselin then blew passed his man at the Wild blue line, pulled the puck to his backhand and saucered a beauty centering feed right on to the stick of a streaking Jack Vincent who collected on his forehand made a quick move to the backhand and slid it five hole to make it 1-0 within the first 3 minutes.
Just a minute later at the 3:52 mark, Ashton Stockie gained the zone, and after a battle in the far side corner was able to slide it down the boards to winger Brendan Schneider. Schneider then started to skate behind the net, then threw out a nifty pass into the slot onto a waiting Zach Zorn's stick who sniped it from the left hashmark past an out strecthed Seth Eisele's left toe to make it 2-0.
Then just as in the game against the Vees, the penalty troubles began, and the Wild were able to crawl back into the game. The Cents went unscathed on the first minor penalty to Mike Van Unen, but when Jack Vincent went to the box for hooking at the 8:57 mark, Sam Morton of the Wild converted on the powerplay.
The woes continued when Mike Van Unen went back to the box for interference, and captain of the wild AJ Vanderbeck was able to score unassisted to tie the game up. Vanderbeck scored later in the period on a 5-on-3 powerplay with Court and Buckley in the box to put the Wild in the lead, and that's how the first would end. 3-2 for the Wenatchee Wild.
The second period of play saw some good chances for both sides. The Cents had some opportunities on the powerplay, but again were unable to convert. They ended up going 0/3 on the powerplay. Eisele made some key saves in the Wenatchee Wild net, and Berger stood tall through the full 20 minutes of the second.
The third started with the lone penalty going to the Wild, and the Cents had a glowing opportunity to tie the game, but couldn't make good on the powerplay. Then in the final ten minutes of play at the 13:56 mark, Jack Weatherby was able to convert on a turnover at the Cents blue line. He was fed in tight by Brady Bjork, and made a good move to get his stick around a sprawled out Berger, and that was the eventual game winner.
The Wild got an empty net goal in the final minute of play to make it 5-2, but with 20 seconds left the captain, Tyrell Buckley, ripped a shot from the line and it had eyes, finding it's way through traffic and through Eisele to make it the 5-3 final.
Eisele ended the game with 25 saves on 28 shots while Berger made 34 saves on 39 shots.
The next team to come to the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena will be the Vernon Vipers on Friday, and then the Cents will go on the road for the first time this season to West Kelowna on Saturday.