The Merritt Centennials had the toughest test of their 3 game homestand when the Prince George Spruce Kings skated onto the ice for a Sunday afternoon matchup at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena, and they passed with flying colors, in large part, due to their powerplay. The Cents were able to continue their hot end to September and start strong in October with a 5-2 win over the Spruce Kings.
The first period started off with some back and forth hockey, and no one was able to get an edge until Mattias Dal Monte went to the box for tripping at the 7:19 mark of the first. On the powerplay, the Spruce Kings were able to convert on a low shot from the line that was deflected on by Ben Poisson. The Cents got a powerplay chance of their own, but couldn't answer until the final minute of the period when Zach Court was the recipient of a very favourable bounce off the glass at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena, after a cross-ice play by Tyrell Buckley at centre ice on the left side, the puck bounced off the stantion of the glass all the way back to the left side onto a waiting Court's stick who ripped a shot top corner.
In the second period, the Spruce Kings would regain the lead, this time with the puck bouncing around in front of Berger. There were multiple opportunities for the Cents to get it out of danger but Kyle Johnson of the Spruce Kings found the puck and put it past Berger to make it 2-1. However, under a minute later Nick Wicks scored a goal from a sharp angle low and under the pad of Evan DeBrouwer who was in complete position to make the save it just snuck underneath him. It was 2-2 after two period of play, but Ben Brar took a spearing penalty at the end of the second that carried over into the third.
Starting the third with a powerplay, the Centennials were able to convert courtesy Joey Berkopec on a nice feed out front by Ashton Stockie who found Berkopec cheating in from the right point, and he went upstairs on DeBrouwer to give the Cents their first lead of the game. The Cents weren't done there as Nick Sutter went off for holding at the 3:03 mark and the Centennials converted on the powerplay again this time it was Brendan Schneider getting his first in the BCHL from Rylan Van Unen and Stockie. 5 minutes later the Cents got some added insurance off the stick of Jack Vincent who broke into the zone and then completed a give and go play with Zach Court to make it 5-2.
Head Coach Joe Martin gives credit to the compete level of his team for the win.
"It's a good group of guys in there, they wanna win, they're competitive. They're competitive for icetime, they're competitive for special teams, they all want to be out there at the end of games... Right now it just seems like everyone is clicking."
The Cents have a couple days off before they face the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, who they are now tied in points with in the standings, on Friday night for an away game before the Thanksgiving long weekend.