For the first time this season, the Merritt Centennials have strung two wins together as they along with Ryan Winter shutout the Langley Rivermen 4-0 on Friday night.
After an on-ice ceremony for the parents and billets ahead of the game, the Cents came out of the gate with a bang. Matt Osadick came flying down the right wing side, and as he gained the offensive blue line, he fired a shot on net that rung off the iron, but right onto the stick of the Cents leading scorer Josh Kagan - who potted it into the empty cage to make it 1-0. Kagan's 9th goal of the season stood up as the only goal in the first period, as the Centennials were heavily out shot. After 1 Ryan Winter stopped all 17 shots he faced, while Kristian Lyon stopped 4/5.
In the middle frame, the game started to get out of hand with late hits being delivered by the Rivermen. Langley tried to bully the Centennials with their physical play, but the Cents stood up for themselves and didn't relent on their pursuit for offense. Despite taking their lumps, including Josh Kagan getting bowled over in a mismatch against Brandon Scoville, the Cents were able to add a goal towards the end of the frame. Chase Nameth scored his first of the season, and as a Centennial with a shot the found the top corner behind Lyon. Shots after 2 were 36-20 in favour of the Rivermen.
The third period saw both teams clean up their act on the penalty front, and the Cents defended their lead expertly. They were able to spend the majority of time in the Rivermen zone and were also able to add some offense when the chips were down. After a late penalty kill, Payton Matsui found Rylan Van Unen behind the D, and from the blue line Van Unen danced in the a tight backhand, forehand move in front, capped off with a top corner shot to give the Cents the 3-0 lead. Matt Osadick and Thomas Manty teamed up for the empty netter to add the icing in a 4-0 game. Ryan Winter made 4 or 5 game stopping saves throughout the night, as final shots were 48-35 Rivermen.
After the game, Head Coach Derek Sweet Coulter said he was proud of the guys for rising above the bully tactics.
"I thought the team played with a level head, and didn't get sucked into the extra curricular stuff with Langley and that was key for us throughout the game."
The Cents will put their pair of wins on the line against the Penticton Vees on Sunday afternoon.
ENERGY PLAYER OF THE GAME: Talon Zakall
3rd Star: Kristian Lyon
2nd Star: Rylan Van Unen 1G 0A
1st Star: Ryan Winter 48/48 SVS