The Merritt Centennials found their offense early, and then survived a late push by the Victoria Grizzlies to hang on to a 2-1 win for their 4th in a row.
The Centennials used the strength of their powerplay early on in the game to capture the lead. At 5:15 Matt Kopperud creeped in from the half-wall looked for a hole and found one down low past the far toe of Kurtis Chapman for the first goal of he game. Assists went to Jayden Fetter and Brad Cocca. The top line provided what is the highlight of the early season so far when Nic Granowicz was sprung on a partial break, but as he was getting caught on the back check, dropped a pass to Nick Wicks who fed it across to Rylan Van Unen, who then returned the feed in front to Granowicz, who put the puck in the open net to complete the passing play giving the Cents a two goal lead that they'd carry into the first intermission.
Neither team found the back of the net in the second period, but they traded chances on the powerplay. However, whenever the Grizzlies found themselves on the powerplay they took themselves off the man advantage with a penalty of their own. After 2, Austin Roden had stopped all 16 shots he faced.
Heading into the third the Centennials continued to have their chances. Mathieu Gosselin came as close to a goal as you could come as he rung it off the inside off the crossbar down and out. The Grizzlies made a push late and were rewarded with the net empty late, after Riley Hughes deflected a point shot from Carter Berger to make things interesting in the final minute of play. The Centennials closed the door from then on and hung on to win 2-1 for their fourth victory in a row.
After the game Head Coach Joe Martin applauded the play of Austin Roden and his players.
"I think we saw Roden turn in his best performance of the year, and the rookies: Roloson, Ward, and Tkac even though they didn't play much provide that valuable breathing room for our more experienced players when their facing down some of the tougher matchups. Overall, I thought it was a gutsy defensive performance."
The Cents and fans will enjoy having their name at the top of the Interior Division Standings before they look for a 5th win in a row against the Langley Rivermen on Saturday for an afternoon game.