The Merritt Centennials have started the year with back to back overtime victories, this time over the Vernon Vipers 3-2.
The Cents started strong in their first road game of 2019. The team tested Bradley Cooper, who looked shaky early, but despite getting shots through the netminder they couldn’t get them into the net. Until Mathieu Gosselin was given way too much room behind the net, and Nick Granowicz barged his way to the front and Gosselin put it on a platter for Grano to make it 1-0. It would be the only goal of the first as Austin Roden continued his hot play by stopping all comers. Shots after 1 were 8-8.
In the middle stanza, Cooper started to round into form and the Cents couldn’t beat him despite plenty of chances. After only one penalty in the first period, the penalties started to pile up in the second and the Cents took one too many. Connor Marritt would score on a rebound to tie the game at one’s after two. Shots after two period of play were 22-21 in favour of the Vipers.
In the third, the penalties continued and early on it was the Cents with a two man advantage. They would convert their first powerplay of 2019 when Brendan Schneider found a puck that got through Cooper and into the blue paint and bang it home to make it 2-1. However, late in the game the refs would give the Vipers a two-man advantage and they’d equalize the game with a Matt Kowalski wrister from the slot. The penalties continued to stack up late in the third, and the Cents had to be sharp to get the game to extra time. Shots after 3 were 36-27 in favour of the Vipers.
The Cents had their hands full killing of a penalty to start the overtime frame. The penalty kill would persevere and then Mike Van Unen would draw a penalty by driving the net hard and getting hauled down. With the 4-on-3 advantage the Cents would go to work, and only needed one shot to win it. Mathieu Gosselin teed one up from the top of the left circle, and Nick Granowicz would deflect it out of mid-air and in to give the Cents the win.
With the two points, the Cents will vault into 1st place in the Interior Division over the idle Penticton Vees.
After the game, Head Coach Joe Martin said he loved the teams compete.
“You have to give full credit to the guys on this one. They didn’t give up when the chips were stacked against them, and they ended up getting rewarded.”
ENERGY PLAYER OF THE GAME: Josh Latta 0G 2A
3RD STAR: Austin Roden 37/39
2nd STAR: Matt Kowalski 1G 1A
1st STAR: Nick Granowicz 2G 0A