Thursday, October 17, 2013

Comeback Kids Don't Give Up In Cents Double OT Win:

With a chance to end the Penticton Vees winning streak of three games, the Merritt Centennials knew their work would be cut out for them on Wednesday night at South Okanagan Events Centre, as despite being down a pair,  the Cents walked away with a 3-2 victory thanks to Shane Poulsen's goal with 1:07 left in the 2nd overtime.

Poulsen also capitalized with the game tying goal in the third period, although the shot may have been deflected by Adam Tracey, but Poulsen's heroics didn't stop there as he set up James Neil's goal in the middle frame to get the Cents on the board. Diego Cuglietta had another excellent game, putting up 3 assists as Merritt improved to 8-7-0-0.

For Penticton, goals came from Travis Blanleil and Anthony Conti, both of which came in the opening half of the game. AP call-up Liam Finley of the Okanagan Rockets BCMML team recorded his 1st BCHL assist, as goaltender Hunter Miska made 30 of 33 stops in the loss, dropping the Vees to 9-3-0-1.

Devin Kero was once again fantastic in goal for Merritt, making 36 saves on 38 Penticton shots, including 17 in the 3rd period. Russell Sanderson returned to the lineup, getting in to the action during warmup and looking game-ready.

The Centennials host Salmon Arm on Friday, followed by their Icebreaker on Saturday and then the Trail Smoke Eaters on Sunday afternoon.

Penticton opened the scoring in the 1st period as Travis Blanleil beat Devin Kero with the pass coming from down low from the stick of Cody DePourq. Brett Beauvais also had an assist, as Blanleil suited up in career game #200 in the BCHL. Merritt looked better and better the period wore on but it didn't appear they had quite found their stride, trailing 1-0 after the period and 11-10 in shots. Neither team really 'brought the heat' fans desired.

Perhaps the dressing rooms have loud speakers from the crowd, because the PA announcers job of firing the crowd up in the intermission carried over to the on ice product as things heated up, before Anthony Conti received a goalmouth pass from Chris Rygus, who hung around at the top of the circle as Liam Finley fed him a puck for Finley's first career point. To that point, the period was fairly dull, and it would remain so for the next 7-8 minutes. Just over 10 minutes later, the Cents got on the board as James Neil put the puck where momma hides the cookies, shooting the puck so fast you could hardly tell it went in at first. Diego Cuglietta and Shane Poulsen each had their 1st of 3 points on the night. Merritt went to the break down 2-1, and were outshot just 7-5 in the period.

Midway through the 3rd period, with the Cents on the man advantage, Shane Poulsen blasted home his 2nd point of the night as Neil and Cuglietta worked the powerplay forecheck just perfectly, threading the puck back to Poulsen where it appeared Adam Tracey may have deflected it in front, but either way tie game. Merritt's comeback wasn't complete though, as the two teams battled for the final eleven minutes and couldn't find an answer. Shots after regulation were 35-36 in favor of the Vees.

In the 1st OT, the Centennials had their chances with a pair of powerplays but Miska stood tall in the net for Penticton, as his offense couldn't muster up much of a breakout to move up ice.

In the 2nd overtime, the Vees nearly won it on a breakaway by Travis Blanleil but the speed of Dane Birks eliminated the scoring chance as the barreled in to the net. Diego Cuglietta got a pass from Shane Poulsen in the defensive zone later in the period, and picked up speed as he flew up the ice and moved to the right wing, then danced around the defender and played the puck back to Poulsen who found time and space and beat Miska with a bullet, sending the Centennials bench in to an uproar of joy as they poured to the ice. Centennials get the win and improve back above .500 and end the Vees winning streak heading in to parents weekend in the Nicola Valley!

Merritt's powerplay was a difference in the game, as they hemmed the Vees in their own zone and had them scrambling at times, going 2 for 5 on the man advantage. Penticton did not capitalize on their 4 opportunities.

Merritt now has the 1-1 series split with Penticton as the two teams won't meet again until December 4th and 6th, the latter being back in the Nicola Valley.

I'd like to personally welcome all of the Centennial players' parents to town this weekend as the team hosts the families for the 19th Annual Icebreaker on Saturday night! The parents will get plenty of excitement, as the Cents host the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on Friday night at 7:30, before welcoming Trail at 4:00 PM on Sunday.

The Q101 broadcast is available at 7:00 on Friday, and 3:30 on Sunday, online at! On a personal note, I'm starting to feel 'in the groove' behind the mic and our operator at the station, Ravyn, is killing it on the board!

See you at the rink!

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