The Centennials had to wait, and wait, and wait to ring in their last game of 2017. After over a 2 hour delay the puck finally dropped in the NVMA as the Express made their first and only appearance to Merritt this season.
In the first the Cents had all sorts of jump, but couldn't beat rookie goaltender Clay Stevenson who got the start for the Express. He stopped all 14 shots thrown his way, while Jacob Berger had limited duty and stopped all 4 shots he faced.
The second saw more action, unfortunately it was on the wrong side of the scoreboard. With a powerplay that carried over from the first the Express were able to capitalize just over a minute in, off a rebound in front Josh Bruce was able to backhand it past Berger to get the games first goal.
The Cents responded by going right back to the box, and the Express went right back to the recipe that got them their first goal. A rebound in front, this time Josh Wildauer was the one to backhand it home in front to make it 2-0, both coming on the powerplay.
The next goal didn't come until midway through the period, but on an Express rush with numbers it was Colby Pederson who was able to shoot a lazer blocker side from the short side up and over Berger, and that ended the Cents netminders night as Austin Roden came in relief.
The move sparked the Cents who were able to score just over a minute later. Joey Berkopec jumped up in the rush and tangled up the Express defender at the offensive blue line. Ashton Stockie was able to walk onto the loose puck, and roof a shot over the glove of Stevenson for the Cents first goal and stop the bleeding making it 3-1.
The third saw the Cents pushing for the equalizer again, and despite lengthy periods in the Express end came up empty handed. Once again the Express capitalized on the counter attack getting a goal from Pederson to make it 4-2.
The Cents answered on the powerplay on a point shot from Tyrell Buckley that found it's way through with Stockie and Zach Zorn provided the net front presence.
Despite the strong third period push, the Cents weren't able to beat Stevenson again, and when they pulled Roden to get the extra attacker they were immediately scored on to make it a 5-2 final.
Head Coach Joe Martin said after the game that the team was trying their best.
"At times we were working hard, but sometimes not hard enough. Despite playing a large part of the game in their end, we weren't committing as much to defense."
The Cents will get a chance for revenge next Wednesday when they travel to Coquitlam for a rematch, and the final game of the season series.