The Merritt Centennials had arguably their best effort of the post season, but when the game looked bound for OT the Smoke Eaters pulled out a late goal to make it 3-2.
For the first time in the series the Cents scored the opening goal, and once again their first goal came shorthanded. After Joey Berkopec went off for hooking, Brady Ziemer sprung fellow Minnesotan Payton Matsui in on a break away. Matsui got a shot off the pad, and did well not to over skate the puck or the net, finding his own rebound to make it 1-0 at the 8:30 mark of the 1st.
Trail answered just under 3 minutes later with Kryski scoring his first of the playoffs to tie the game at 1.
Austin Roden turned in a much better effort throughout the game, giving the Cents the opportunity to win by making a couple key saves throughout the game. After 1 period shots were 14-10 Trail.
In the second period the Cents were the first to the scoresheet again, and once again it was Payton Matsui figuring into the offense. After a stretch pass was blocked at center, the Centennials threw the puck back in and Buskey went behind his net to play. Matsui picked his pocket and found Matt Kopperud out front who scored his 4th goal of the series to give the Cents the 2-1 edge just 2:15 into the second.
However, the Smoke Eaters didn’t give up on the stretch pass, and midway through the period Connor found Tuck up the middle of the ice, and he was sprung for a breakaway. Tuck took a page out of Kent Johnson’s book and faked backhand until the final second bringing it forehand and in past the pad of Roden to tie the game.
Shots after 2 period of play were 20-18.
The final frame saw both teams have chances to take the lead, but both goalies stood on their heads. Roden a little more so making big saves in tight and from distance. With the Cents pushing late in the third and hemming the puck in the Smokies zone, Trevor Zins in desperation got the puck up to Johnson. Johnson skated up the left wing, drove wide on Jaydon Fetter, dipped below the goal line and back out front to the backhand and went top shelf, glove on Roden for the dagger with just 2:30 to play.
The Cents ran out of time to equalize and fell 3-2.
After the game Head Coach Joe Martin said he thought the Cents gave their all.
"It was the best we've played in the series, but an unlucky goal at the end, a bad play for their second goal. We deserved a better fate."
They now have their backs against the wall trailing 3-1 for an elimination Game 5 back in Merritt on Friday night at 7pm from the NVMA. Pick up your tickets at the Marketing Office from 10-4pm tomorrow or 10-3pm on Friday. Then get your tickets at the rink from 3pm to puck drop. Cheer on your Cents to stave off elimination!