Merritt fell to 7-6-0-0 with the loss, but with the effort put forth in the last couple of weeks, they aren't playing like a team one game above .500, and will have a chance to get back in to the win column in front of a home crowd on Saturday. West Kelowna continues to lead the Interior Division, with a record now of 9-2-0-1.
Both goaltenders were tested on several occasions, as Andy Desautels played arguably his best BCHL game making 36 saves, while Devin Kero made 18 saves in the Cents net.
Both teams have quick turnarounds as the Cents welcome Coquitlam on Saturday and West Kelowna entertains the Prince George Spruce Kings.
In the opening period, the Warriors nearly took a lead under three minutes after the puck dropped, but the goal was quickly waved off and the referee issued a goaltender interference call against West Kelowna. Devin Kero's gesture showed that it was undoubtedly a penalty, but his 'no-goal' arm waving was still fun to see. Both teams got off to the start they wanted to offensive opportunities being developed early both ways, but it was Seb Lloyd who opened the scoring as he roofed a shot on the goal line with the Warriors on the man advantage at 8:27. West Kelowna edged the Centennials on the shot clock 9-8 in the first.
A play at the side of the net made it 2-0 2:40 in to the middle frame, as Liam Blackburn got credit for the goal after Dane Birks attempted to clear the puck from his own zone. Sebastien Pare wanted to fire the boys up, and did just that with a late period scrap with Adam Osczevski, one that Pare threw several hard rights during. Gavin Gould was the one to answer the call for the Centennials, as he used his speed to split the defenders before breaking in and beating Desautels between the legs to get the Cents within one before the break, as the Cents outshot West K 12-9 in the period.
The Centennials came out as anticipated in the final period, but were unable to beat a sharp Warrior goaltender, as Andy Desautels made some miraculous saves to keep his team in front. At 14:12, to put the Warriors back up by a pair, Seb Lloyd once again buried a side-of-net scramble on the power play as his 4th of the season looked very similar to his 3rd. Merritt had 15 shots in the period, and many of which had them pushing the bar for Desautels, who continued to play strong throughout the game.
Overall, the Centennials played a very sound road game, although they didn't get the result they had hoped for. A couple penalties proved to be the back breaker, but there were many positives to continue to build on on Saturday. Scott Patterson, Gavin Gould and Malik Kaila all had strong games, as newcomer Devin Oakes looked to get better and better as he got more ice time. It was nice to see Sebastien Pare step up and show he has more than good offense and defense in his game.
The Centennials welcome the Coquitlam Express to town for the second meeting of the season between the two clubs, after the Cents opened the season with a 5-2 win over Coquitlam at the BCHL Bauer Showcase.
Tune in on Q101 - Merritt's Music Mix, beginning at 7:00 with the Norgaard Ready Mix Pregame Show!
One last congratulations goes out to head coach Luke Coach for being named to the coaching post for Canada West at the CJHL Top Prospects weekend!