Thursday, March 6, 2014

Centennials Look For Answers Down 2-0 Returning Home:

If you look back to nearly every preview of the opening round series between the Merritt Centennials and Penticton Vees, you will find the common trend of defense-first mentalities and great goaltending. Through two games in the series, despite Merritt playing undermanned on the blue line, the two teams have a combined 17 goals; 14 of which belong to Penticton.

In Game 1, the Vees spanked the Centennials 8-0 with goals from 7 different players, while forcing the Cents to pull a third period goaltender change.

The following night, Merritt came out with a positive attitude and results followed through the first two periods with at one time a 3-1 lead, before eventually falling 6-3 due to a third period breakdown.

Early in the first, the game got going in fashion as Gavin Gould threw his weight around on Cody DePourq with a big check at the benches, before the two got engaged in a scrap right in front of Devin Kero, who made 30 of 35 saves in the loss(BCHL site is incorrect as Vees final goes was empty net). Both players got their fair share of hits in, with no clear decision as both benches cheered.

James Neil opened the scoring for the Centennials with a shorthanded goal as he flew up the left side and caught his own rebound before beating Hunter Miska, who looked to battle pucks at times, making 18 of 21 saves. Despite 3 goals allowed, Miska's performance was slightly flashier than Olivier Mantha's 20 save shutout in the opening game.

Brad McClure tied the game for the Vees late in the first, before the Centennials took a second period lead as Sebastien Pare showed off his speed shorthanded as he blew by Brett Beauvais and cut backhand to make it 2-1.

4:00 minutes after that, just after the midway point of the second, Scotty Patterson surprised everyone with a bullet right off the face-off win by Pare, to give Merritt a 3-1 lead.

Cody DePourq put Penticton down by one under five minutes later, and as Luke Pierce stated on the post game show it was a goal that hurt his hockey team, but they appeared to recover fine with a 3-2 lead in to the break.

In the third, Malik Kaila was assessed a linesman penalty after his stick caught Matt Serratore high and drew blood, giving Penticton a four-minute man advantage. That powerplay would be the difference maker as DePourq put home his 2nd of the night before another penalty was issued against Merritt with twelve minutes to go.

Shane McColgan was then set up for a beauty from the goal line on one knee, before Brad McClure made it 5-3 under thirty seconds later.

The Vees would seal the game with an empty netter, taking a 2-0 lead in the series heading back to the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena for games on Friday and Saturday night. Both games begin at 7:30 with the Norgaard Ready Mix Pregame Show starting at 7:00.

Tickets can be purchased from Canadian Tire, Cooper's, and at the Centennials office; call 378-3604 for more information.

If the Centennials want to be successful, they need to play a similar game to that of Game 2, with a home-ice touch. When they play that way, it was been fool-proof this season, notably against the Vees. There wasn't a single 'break' for the Cents in the first two games, and that does play in on confidence but officiating doesn't dictate goals and in the end the Centennials will need to keep pucks out of their own zone and stop letting the Vees get wide open shots.

It's going to be a great weekend in Merritt, let's paint this town RED!!

Visit the link for more details on Paint the Town Red!

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