The Merritt Centennials had their best effort of the season this afternoon in Chilliwack at the Prospera Centre in front of hundreds of scouts for the BCHL Bauer Showcase, however, it wasn't enough as they were still beaten by the Langley RIvermen 4-3.
The first goal of the game occured just four minutes into the game when Sean Gulka of the Rivermen was able to stop a clearance attempt, play it down low cross ice to his linemate Devin Leduc, who put the puck on a platter with a cross ice feed for Nicholas Ponak who found the net past Jacob Berger who got the start.
The teams would trade special teams chances before coincidental minors to Henry Cleghorn, and Trevor Ayre, late in the period. Both teams continued with their woes on the powerplay as the Rivermen had only converted 15% of their chances coming into the game, and couldn't get the puck past Berger with the man advantage.
In the second period, the Cents started with a bang as Nick Wicks got a beautiful feed from Zach Court after he batted a clearing attempt out of mid air, Wicks had time and space as he skated to the high slot and unloaded a wrister that beat Chad Cromar low glove. That tied things up at 1 just under a minute into the period.
However, four minutes later the Rivermen answered, and once again it was Gulka and Ponak connecting for the Rivermen, this time Gulka gained the line on the left side and then fed a saucer pass tape to tape to a streaking Ponak who received it in stride on the forehand, made the quick move to the backhand in tight and put it past a stationary Berger to restore the one goal lead at 2-1.
The Cents had another chance on the powerplay in the second period, but couldn't convert. Midway through the period, they would courtesy Zach Zorn after a hold at the line by Tyrell Buckley, and a low shot that had eyes, Zorn got the deflection to put it through the five hole of Cromar to tie the game back up at 2 a piece.
Then with just over a minute and a half to go in the second period, Christian Sabin was sprung on a breakaway, he got some seperation, but was held back by the Rivermen defensemen and was awarded a penalty shot. On the penalty shot, Sabin skated from center to his left as he crossed the blue line, as he started to come across the centre of the ice and had Cromar moving across the net, he shot against the grain and beat Cromar low glove for the Centennials first lead since early in game two of the season against Wenatchee.
For the first time this season, the Cents went into the third period with a lead, but the Rivermen spoiled the party just a minute and a half into the third. Brendan Budy, the captain of the Rivermen, found the back of the net off a feed from St. Jean to tie things back up at three.
Merritt had a glorious chance to win it late in the game as they went to the powerplay, but the Rivermen were the team that made good on the opportunity. After an ill fated drop pass by Brendan Schneider for a defenseman who wasn't there, Ponak stepped into a slap shot for his third goal of the game, and the game winner for Langley to take it 4-3.
The Cents will have to have short memories as their next game comes less that 24 hours later. The Cents will suit up to face the Prince George Spruce Kings at 10am tomorrow morning, pre game at 9:45 on Q101.