The Merritt Centennials found themselves in the hockey game after 40 minutes of play thanks to some great goaltending from Josh Dias, but after coming into the period down a goal, they ended with a 5-0 final.
There was no road rust to speak of for the Trail Smoke Eaters as they came into the game hot and put the pressure on from the opening puck drop. Dias had to be good early on to see the team through the first frame as he turned away 17 shots while the Centennials only mustered 6. No stop was more impressive than a diving blocker sprawl from Dias that punched the puck wide. After 1 it was scoreless.
The story remained the same for a large portion of the second period. Dias held the Cents in the game while they managed to get a few chances at the other end. Throughout the game the physicality was at a fever pitch, but the Cents started to chase the hits a little too much midway through the frame. After shrugging off a check Drew Elser found Noah Wakeford in front and he was able to beat Josh Dias upstairs as he was unmarked. The Centennials weren't able to capitalize on their 2 powerplays in the period. Shots after 2 were 25-14.
The Cents came into the third with the game for the taking, but those thoughts didn't last long as Quinn Disher scored just 14 seconds into the period. The Centennials then fell into a spiral of undisciplined play that saw them take 5 more minor penalties and multiple misconducts in the third period. To their credit, the Smoke Eaters only scored once on the powerplay, a two-man advantage where Captain Cody Schiavon absolutely wired a shot top corner. The Smokies added goals from Zack Feaver and Zach Park to make it a 5-0 final. The final shot count was 46-22.
After the game Assistant Coach Zach Wright said the team has to try and do more for Dias.
"This was a tough game because you can see Dias is giving us a chance heading into the third. We couldn't make good on the opportunity he gave us, and we have to learn from it."
The Cents will get a chance for redemption next week when they clash again with the Smoke Eaters. This time on their ice in Trail.