The Merritt Centennials were in it after one period of play, but a wild second period that saw a pair of shorthanded goals, and an additional goal waved off against paved the way for a Prince George victory 5-1.
Early on it was all Spruce Kings as they were up 2-0 by the 4 minute mark. Colton Cameron and Austin Spiridakis helped get the Spruce Kings out of the gate hot, and they kept the pressure on for the first 10 minutes of the period while Josh Dias tried to recover from the two early strikes. Saved by the BCHL media timeout, the Cents came out swinging after the break and the new look top line was able to converge on net and bang home a goal. Jerzy Orchard pulled the puck off the wall, Brodi Stuart threw a shot on net, and Ben Ward got to the rebound first to make it a 2-1 hockey game and give the Cents a shot in the arm for the remainder of the first. They also picked up a late penalty in the first that would give them a powerplay heading into the 2nd. Shots after 1 were 17-9 Spruce Kings.
With the powerplay to start the 2nd, the Cents appeared to have the upper hand, but on a routine dump in Josh Dias got his wires crossed and Andrew Seaman pounced on him in the crease and potted a quick goal. So quick in fact that the officials missed it at first, but after play went on for another 2 minutes, the refs converged and decided it was indeed a goal. The decision turned back the clock and the Cents still had a bit of time left on the powerplay. Despite additional powerplay throughout the period, the Cents couldn't hit pay dirt. Grayson Valente went off for a double-minor and after a mad play in front of the net PG batted in a goal. The officials reversed the decision citing a hand pass in the crease. Mason Waite was able to capitalize shorthanded late in the frame by dancing his way to the net and beating Dias five-hole to make it a 4-1 hockey game. Shots after 2 were 22-15 PG.
The third period didn't have much going of consequence as both teams ground out the game to the final whistle. Hunor Torzsok was the beneficiary of a play reminiscent of the NVMA, as the puck bounced off the end-boards and right into the slot onto his stick, he made no mistake with the gift and put it into the empty cage to put the Spruce Kings 5-1. That would be the final as Josh Dias stopped 27 of 32 while Jordan Fairlie stopped 18 of 19 for the Win.
After the game, Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter said that they will get to learn something before moving on in a short week.
"We will take what we can from this game, and the good thing is the guys won't have to dwell on this one, they will get to play a game next week against a different opponent and try again."
The Cents will face the Trail Smoke Eaters on Thursday night 7pm from the NVMA.