The Merritt Centennials impressed in the first period of their season opener, but faltered as the game went on especially in respects to special teams and the Salmon Arm Silverbacks were able to come back and pull out a win 4-2.
The Centennials accomplished one of their game goals, coming out strong in the first ten minutes, and were rewarded early with the first goal of the season and the game going to Rylan Van Unen after a Nick Wicks faceoff win. Van Unen was able to rip a wrister top shelf blocker-side on rookie netminder Ethan Langenegger to open the scoring 3:15 into the first. Former affiliate player, Frazer Dodd, widened the margin for the Centennials halfway through the frame, on a beautiful give and go play with Matt Kopperud in which Kopperud baited Langenegger across the crease before finding Dodd who had a wide open net to bury the puck in. Despite the 2-0 lead the Cents and Silverbacks took a combined 5 penalties in the first, a sign of things to come.
The middle frame saw the Centennials caught on their heels to start, and even though the Centennials and Silverbacks matched penalties with 3 a piece, the Cents couldn’t match the scoring output on the powerplay. The Silverbacks converted on two powerplay opportunities in the 2nd with goals from Akito Hirose and Matthew Verboon before adding another on the rush at even strength from Justin Wilson to score 3 unanswered. That was the end of the night for starter Vincent Duplessis who stopped 20 of 23 shots up to that point, but with the Cents looking for a way to swing momentum in their favour getting Austin Roden into the game proved to be the tonic. The Cents were able to stem the tide, and push back getting a lengthy two-man advantage, and what was possibly an unseen on the ice in-and-out goal from Joey Berkopec. That would be the best chance of the period, including a few posts, but the Centennials couldn’t ripple the mesh.
The third period was a bit more back and forth with both teams aiming to be a little more disciplined and succeeding. However, on the lone Merritt penalty of the period Salmon Arm was able to capitalize once more to make it 4-2 on a Hudson Schandor third whack at a rebound. Despite pulling the goalie in the dying seconds the Cents couldn’t find life and would fall by a 4-2 final score.
They will have to get their affairs in order quickly, and review the tape in regards to special teams to make sure their ready for the Home Opener on Saturday night against the Vernon Vipers.
Cheer on the boys at the NVMA tomorrow night at the Murray GM Home Opener, giveaways at the door, and during the first intermission with a chance to battle for a free oil change in the second intermission as the Cents search for their first win of the season.
Puck drop 7pm, Pre-Game at 6:45 on the air at Q101.1FM or stream online at Q101.ca with Jared Thomas.