The Merritt Centennials may not have finished at the top of the division, but they brought the fans to their feet in a thrilling OT victory 4-3 over the Vernon Vipers.
The first period started off all Merritt, but by the end they had nothing to show for it. Despite out shooting the Vipers 17-7 in the first, Bradley Cooper made some show stopping saves to keep it at zero's.
In the second period, the Vipers found the net first and it happened on a bit of a lucky play. Teddy Wooding cut in with an open wing, and he fired one off the shoulder of Austin Roden, the puck went flying up into the air, then fell off Roden's back and in to make it 1-0. Payton Matsui tied the game with a quick cut out of the corner, and pulled to the slot and fired one up high on Cooper to make it 1-1. The Vipers came back on the shot clock after 2 period of play to make it 28-23 in favour of the Cents.
The final frame saw the Cents get out to a two goal edge. Brad Cocca scored on the powerplay to make it 2-1, and then Nick Wicks broke in on the right wing and sniped up high short-side to make it 3-1. The Cents thought they had the game in the bag, but the Vipers got a goal from Logan Cash with just under 2 minutes to go, and Elan Bar Lev Wise scored with under a second to go to tie the game at 3-3.
In overtime the teams traded chances until Jesse Landsdell hauled down Nick Granowicz to give the Cents a powerplay in the final minute of OT. With 4 forwards on Nick Wicks and Mathieu Gosselin played give and go before 'The Goose' launched one top corner to send the home town crowd into a frenzy for the 4-3 victory.
The only sad note on the night was that the Penticton Vees won their game against Salmon Arm and secured top spot in the Interior Division, but the Centennials head to the post season to play the Trail Smoke Eaters. The first playoff games will be on Friday March 1st and 2nd at home before travelling to Trail. Pick up your playoff tickets from the Cents marketing office at 2001 C Voght St or call Jared at 378-3604.
Energy Player of the Game: Nick Granowicz 0G 0A
3RD STAR: Austin Roden 33/36
2ND STAR: Bradley Cooper 45/49
1ST STAR: Mathieu Gosselin 1G 0A