In a game that had a playoff atmosphere, the Merritt Centennials played their best 55 minutes of the year, before they fell into a defensive shell in the final 5 minutes and the Vees came back to win it 3-2.
The first period skated to a scoreless draw with the goaltenders stealing the show. Nolan Hildebrand stopped all 9 shots he faced, while Jacob Berger stopped all 12 he faced.
The second was very similar to the first until the 11:38 mark when Colten Gerlib held the puck at the right point by gloving it down, and wasted no time teeing up a blast that beat Hildebrand on the blocker side to make it 1-0. Despite penalties on both sides that remained the score after 40 minutes of play.
The Cents started the third behind on the shot clock, and that trend continued. However, they were able to find the back of the net first after Rylan Van Unen blocked a shot and went off to the races joined by Jackson Munro on a 2-on-1, Van Unen opted to keep and shoot and roofed it over the shoulder of Hildebrand to make it 2-0 halfway through the third. After the Cents scored they went into a defensive shell, and as Head Coach Martin would later say after the game, they looked "afraid to win." In the final 5 minutes with the Cents trying to buckle down offensively, Jonny Tychonik held the line, and unleashed a shot that deflected off a sprawling Henry Cleghorn who was attempting to block the shot, and in past Berger.
The turning point came late in the game after a Vees goal was dissallowed. It was ruled that Berger was interfered with, but there was no penalty to the Penticton Vees on the play. After the play, Berger squirted some water at a Vees player, and he ended up getting a penalty. On that powerplay, it was Tychonik who got his second of the game with another blast from the point. This time there was no deflection on the play, just a clean shot up high to tie things up at 2. The teams were content to skate 2-2 to the overtime frame.
In overtime, the Cents couldn't convert on their offensive rush, and on the counter attack Grant Cruikshank was able to roof it on Berger to get the OT winner.
After the game, Coach Martin said that he could stomach the loss a lot easier if his team played their game until the end.
"If we gave more, and played our game in the final five minutes I'd be talking about how we ran into a good team that found a way to win. It's stil a good opponent that found a way to win, but we didn't enough of what we should've in the last five minutes"
The Cents have now lost three straight, two in overtime to salvage points, but they'll look to get 2 points against the Wenatchee Wild with no strings attached tomorrow night at 7pm on Q101.