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Game Day | TRA vs MER

The Centennials scored in the last minute in each of the first two periods, including a shorthanded goal on their way to a 5-1 win in Merritt to open a home-and-home series against the Trail Smoke Eaters on Friday night.

The game also featured a goal that went under the Trail net as it was tilted forward from behind, a disputed goal and a Zamboni breakdown during the second intermission.

Luke Pfoh opened the scoring just past the four minute mark tipping home a centreing pass while the Smokies net was coming ajar.

However, Smokies newcomer Isaac Fecteau tied the game 18-seconds later converting a drop pass from Chase Stefanek. Fecteau jumped into the rush several times in his debut.

The Centennials regained the lead about ten minutes later on a play that carried on even though it looked as if the puck had defected off a Smoke Eater on the bench and back into play. Jonathan Wong’s goal proved to be the winner.

Merritt extended the lead to 3-1 with a minute to go in the opening frame as Michael Felsing’s rush down the right wing, set up Phoh’s second goal of the period.

Trail had several scoring opportunities throughout the second period, but were denied by goalie Andrew Ballantyne who made several key saves among his 28 on the evening.
The back-breaker came with 58-seconds left in the middle frame during a Smoke Eaters power play.

Michael Felsing stole the puck at the Trail blueline and fed Jaxson Murray who converted the two-on-one break to give Merritt a three-goal lead after 40 minutes.

Jack Ziliotto closed out the scoring with just over 11-minutes to go, after which the level of bad blood between the two teams increased.

That included a toe-to-toe fight between Trail native Judah Makway and Merritt defenseman, Sam Grabner.

The Smokies outshot the Centennials 29-26. Trail’s starting netminder Ryan Parker was pulled after stopping 9-of-12 shots in the first period. Teagan Kendrick stopped 13-of-15 over the final two periods.

Trail was 0-for-3 on the power play and killed off all three Merritt advantages.

That sets the stage for Saturday night’s return match at Cominco Arena for the sixth and final game of a season series that has been dominated by the home teams.

Injuries sidelined Trail wingers Christian Kim and Ridge Dawson for the Friday night affair, but Ethan Mann made his return. The 20-year-old winger has missed 28 of 41 games this season because of two separate upper body ailments.

Opening face off is set for 7 p.m. tonight and good seats are still available at Tickets.TrailSmokeEaters.com and Early Bird pricing for the 2024-25 Season ends May 31st, 2024.