With the win, the Centennials take a five point lead over Salmon Arm with a record of 28-20-4-1. Goals came from Pare, Wayland Williams, and a pair from Diego Cuglietta while Jarrod Schamerhorn got the 19 save victory.
Rylan Bechtel scored his first goal of the season for the 20-18-2-4 Capitals to give his team a second period lead, while Myles Powell and Taylor Allan added the other tallies as Robin Gusse was tested with 29 saves off 33 shots.
The final game of the road trip goes on Sunday afternoon for the Centennials, as they visit the Dog Pound in Alberni Valley with a 3:00 puck drop.
The Big Stick had a large contingency of Centennial fans and families in the building on Saturday, and I want to start by saying that is the road support Junior teams love and truly appreciate. The fan bus has been rescheduled for the final trip to Salmon Arm later this month. I'll give details on today's call. The Capitals opened the scoring in this one as Taylor Allan made a toe drag move to elude both Tyler Martin and Dane Birks to make it 1-0 at the 11:31 mark. Jordan Topping and Rylan Bechtel picked up the assists. Just over four minutes later, the puck found its way to the stick of Wayland Williams who was cutting across the point, where he took a quick snapper that may have connected with some post before getting in past Gusse to make it 1-1 at 15:06. Merritt outshot Cowichan 11-4 in the period, as the teams were split down the middle.
Early in the second period, Diego Cuglietta picked up a rush with his linemates in Jeff Wight and James Neil, with Cuglietta finishing 5:42 in to the period for his 17th of the season to make it 2-1 Merritt. Both linemates picked up helpers. The Capitals used a powerplay to get back in front, as Blake Butzow, a former Penticton Vee, set up Myles Powell for his team leading 20th. Another powerplay goal was imminent, as 6:06 later Rylan Bechtel scores his first goal of the season in 53 contests. Bechtel got a quick shot off on the left side of Schamerhorn and looked as though he just had the right angle set up. On the set-up was Matt Berry-Lamontagna and Brayden Gelsinger. With Powell River taking that lead with just :57 seconds left in the period, I think many perhaps expected the Centennials to lose some momentum. Shots were 11-11 in the second, 3-2 Cowichan.
But that wasn't the case. 5:27 in to the third, it was 'Super-Diego' once more, as the Centennials tied the game at 3-3 on Cuglietta's 18th of the season from Wight and Neil. Cuglietta has 11 points in his last 8 games for Merritt, and is continually stepping up to be a contributor along with his other veteran counterparts in the lineup. That marked the only goal of the third, so the Island Savings Centre would get to see some overtime as both teams take a for-sure point and get all that much closer to clinching a playoff berth. Shots after regulation had the Centennials in front 32-22.
It didn't take long in to OT as Dane Birks sped up the right side boards and got the puck towards the goaltender Gusse as the rebound bounced around at the side of the net for Jeff Wight before Sebastien Pare finished the sequence to give the Centennials a big 4-3 win just :33 seconds in to overtime. This win helped the Centennials move up five points on Salmon Arm with a chance to stretch that to 7 in Alberni Valley on Sunday.
Like Luke Pierce did on the post game show, it's important to point out some positives such as the teams' ability to not let frustrating officiating agitate them. This showed the teams maturity has come a long ways as a group. Some great individual efforts came in from Jeff Wight, Diego Cuglietta, Sebastien Pare and notably Wayland Williams. No details needed, all of them and more played great games with results and effort all matching up nicely.
The Centennials are in Alberni Valley on Sunday for a date with the Bulldogs, for the second time in under two weeks. Jarrod Schamerhorn is again expected to start with a pair of wins to start the trip, while Connor LaCouvee is expected to face his former team for the final time this season, barring a Fred Page Cup final between the two teams.
Puck drops at Weyerhauser Arena at 3:00 PM, but you can listen online and on the road at Q101.ca and at 101.1 FM while Q101 is also available on iPhone's through TuneIn Radio App.
Pregame show starts at 2:30!