The Merritt Centennials battled back from a 3 goals deficit, but weren’t able to avoid a late goal from the Langley Rivermen for the 4-3 final.
Ryan Winter held the Cents in it during the first period with big saves when the Centennials were battling the Rivermen and the refs. The Cents marched to the box 4 times in the first period and as such found it hard to get a flow going. They were outshot in the first frame 16-7.
The second period saw the teams tentatively take chances at each other through the early goings of the action, but after a 5th Centennials penalty the Rivermen were able to pull through. Joseph Musa found Wallack back door who made it 1-0. On the ensuing shift, a mix up behind the net started a scramble, and shot from the point resulted in a rebound goal to make it 2-0. Within 2 minutes it was 3-0 as Musa dangled in on a breakaway and beat Winter in tight with a move to the forehand. Josh Kagan was able to get the Cents some life with a short side snipe over the shoulder of Fleming to make it 3-1 before the end of 2. Shots after 2 were 28-19 Rivermen.
Daniel Tkac continued the Centennials solid effort with an early wraparound snipe upstairs to make it 3-2. Then when the Cents went to the powerplay they were able to get a quick tally, and the first as a Cent, from Christian Buono to tie the game at 3’s. Halfway through the period, the Cents had a turnover at centre and Fraser danced in, Winter stayed with him all the way, but his last chance entering feed found Musa who made it 4-3 for the eventual winner despite the Cents going 2 man up in the last 2 minutes with a powerplay try. Final Shots were 39-31 Langley.
After the game, Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter said the resiliency was there.
“It was nice to see them come out of the third with a strong effort, and not back down. There was a turnover that ended up being the difference, and that maybe had to be a lesson we had to learn.”
The Cents will look to learn the lesson and apply it to a game Wednesday night against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. Puck drop 7pm.