Make it three in a row for the Merritt Centennials as they delivered their most complete effort of the season to date and pulled past the Salmon Arm Silverbacks 5-2.
To start the game, it took a while for the teams to find their flow. The game lacked intensity and consisted mostly of limited chances in the offensive end followed by clearing attempts the other way for both sides. That ended at the 6-minute mark when Mathieu Gosselin found Brady Ziemer’s rebound in front to put the Cents ahead by 1. The Silverbacks answered at the 12-minute mark with a goal on the rush from Trevor Adams, but the intensity seemed to build from there. Austin Roden and Ethan Langenegger both were exceptional in net, but Langenegger was the busier of the two throughout the game. Roden stopped 5/6 in the first while Langenegger stopped 14/15.
The middle frame saw the Cents start to exude their will on the game After starting the period with a string of penalties against, the Centennials finally got some opportunities of their own including a 5-on-3 once Gosselin joined his teammates from the box, and he scored his second of the game to make it 2-1. The Centennials expanded their lead in the second courtesy hometown boy Talon Zakall who slapped a knuckler from the line that fluttered up and down and in past the blocker side of Langenegger. The Cents continued to throw rubber on net outshooting the ‘Backs 17-11 in the second.
In the 3rd, the Silverbacks didn’t do themselves any favours taking a string of penalties that stretched from the 3-minute mark to the 8-minute mark, and Matt Kopperud was finally able to take advantage of the extra man finding the puck in the slot and putting it up over Langenegger and in to give the Cents the 4-1 lead. Brad Cocca was finally rewarded with a goal at the 14-minute mark after setting up his teammates for 9 leading up to that point, Gosselin found his linemate in the slot and he ripped it top corner to give the Cents a 5-1 lead. Austin Roden had to stop a penalty shot, and allowed a goal against late after an ill advised hit at the defensive blue line, but the Cents hung on for their 3rd win in a row 5-2. Roden stopped 19/21 shots while Langenegger saved 40/45.
After the game Head Coach and General Manager Joe Martin said this was the best effort yet.
“There were times when we may have sagged during the game, but overall I felt it was the most complete effort of the year from our guys.”
With the win the Centennials move to 3rd in the Interior Division with a 3-2 record. The Centennials will travel to the BCHL Showcase with a lot of momentum on their side, but will need to have a good week of practice before they take on the Victoria Grizzlies and the Langley Rivermen in Chilliwack.
The next home game is September 28 against the Penticton Vees where the Cents will honor the Humboldt Broncos and First Responders before the game.