The Merritt Centennials pulled off a gutsy win to keep their dreams of a first place finish alive with a 3-2 win over the Langley Rivermen.
The Cents had to kill off 3 penalties in the first ten minutes, and succeeded on the first 2 but couldn’t kill off the third as Daneel Lategan scored on a backhand past Austin Roden to open the scoring.
Joey Berkopec helped the Cents even the score when he let go a shot from centre that trickled past Shayne Battler towards the net, and Frazer Dodd crashed the net hard to poke it past the line to tie the game 1-1.
Austin Roden stopped 16/17 shots in the first period.
The second period saw the Cents capture their first lead of the game when Brad Cocca gained the line on the left side, dropped for Mathieu Gosselin who ripped a shot just over the pad, glove side to make it 2-1. After the goal, the Rivermen replaced Battler with Braedon Flemming.
The Rivermen leveled the score just 3 minutes later on a low shot from Devin Leduc.
After 2 the shots were 25-17 in favour of the Rivermen.
The third period would solve nothing despite chances for both sides, and in overtime it was Roden who held the Cents in the game with 7 saves in the extra frame.
In the shootout, Roden didn’t need to make a save as both shots from the Rivermen went wide or high.
The Cents first shooter was Mathieu Gosselin who streaked up the middle with speed, deked hard to the backhand, got Flemming to bite, and then pulled it back forehand and in to give the Cents the edge.
Matt Kopperud sealed the victory with a move where he veered wide right, cut in, faked forehand, then went backhand past Flemming to win it.
The Penticton Vees won which means with the win the Cents keep pace, and keep the dream of a first place finish alive, but they need a Vees loss, paired with a Cents win or a trip to OT to seal the division title.
ENERGY PLAYER OF THE GAME: Riley Wallack 2 PIM
3RD STAR: Austin Roden 44/46
2nd STAR: Braedon Fleming 17/17
1st STAR: Matt Kopperud SO Winner