The Merritt Centennials came roaring back in the final minutes of the game, but couldn't get that extra goal they needed to tie it and force overtime falling 5-4 against the Wenatchee Wild.
The Cents and Wild did something that hasn't been done all series, and that's skate to a scoreless tie in the first. The Cents also managed to hold their own on the first penalty kill of the game, another first, and that set the tone as they killed all 3 Wild opportunities. Wenatchee hurled 20 shots on net while the Cents only managed 6.
In the second, the offense did arrive, but it was the Wild who struck first. Cooper Zech found a loose puck to the side of the net after sneaking in from the point to get one past Berger.
The Cents were able to answer on the powerplay, for the first time in the series, and it was Zach Court who powered the puck ou from behind the net and took it to the slotbefore firing it down low to tie things up at 1.
Halfway through the middle frame, Jasper Weatherby scored his 5th of the series by deflecting in a Zech point shot, and Zech continued his hot play in the second by adding another goal to make it 3-1 after 2.
The first goal of the third period went to the Cents on the powerplay. Once again it was Zach Court who tallied and brought the Cents within one down 3-2.
The Wild were able to restore the 2-goal lead with a Lucas Sowder shot as he crossed the line in the middle and fired one that was partially deflected past Berger.
The game seemed to be out of reach when Slava Demin took the puck from the left point and skated in unchallenged between the hashmarks before roofing one to give the Wild the 5-3 lead.
With just over 2 minutes left, Mathieu Gosselin found some room on the right side, and found Ashton Stockie streaking to the net to make it 5-3.
Then with the team doing some grunt work in front, Zach Zorn was able to bat home a rebound from a Colten Gerlib shot to make it 5-4.
In the final minute of play, the Cents couldn't muster anymore magic and fell short.
After the game, Head Coach Joe Martin said that he saw good effort from his players with the game on the line, something they'll need in a do-or-die game 4.
"You don't want to be asking yourself what if? You can what if the x's and o's, you can what if the powerplay, but you can't what if the effort and the desire to win, you have to leave it all out there."
The Cents will need to bring their full effort to force a game 5, but first comes game 4 - tomorrow night, 7pm puck drop from the NVMA.