The Merritt Centennials saw their playoff hopes dashed on Tuesday night against the BCHL's best in the Coquitlam Express, falling by a score of 9-2.
The Cents opened the scoring just 1:10 into the game after Rylan Van Unen picked a pocket at the blueline, danced in and rang a shot off the post that Daniel Tkac was able to find and fire into the partially open cage to make it 1-0. The teams traded chances until the 7:47 mark when the Express started to blast back. Greg Lapointe answered to tie the game, then that seemed to open the flood gates as the Cnts didn't have any answers for the high powered Express. Will Margel, Josh Wildauer, Wyatt Head, and Cooper Connell all added tallies to put Coquitlam up 5-1 after 1. Ryan Winter was chased from the net after the 4th goal, with Marshall coming in for relief. Shots after 1 were 14-14.
The second period started where the first ended off as the Express added another goal to make it 6-1. After Chase Nameth was caught in open ice in a big hit, the Cents actually found themselves shorthanded, but Captain Rylan Van Unen was able to add a shorthanded tally on a rare 4-on-3 kill going coast to coast before scoring on the breakaway. Adam Trotman would add another goal on a powerplay to make it 7-2 after 2. Shots after 2 were 25-24 Cents.
In the third the Cents couldn't find the offense required to dig themselves out of the hole and Coquitlam would add another pair. Final shots were 39-29 Express.
After the game, Assistant Coach Zach Wright said the Cents had moments where they were able to keep up, but far too many where they couldn't.
"I thought we were skating with the Express for stretches during the game, but we couldn't do it consistently."
The Cents play next this weekend where they will honor Merritt's Mr. Hockey Brian Barrett on Saturday, and the return of Joe Martin and the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Sunday.