FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DECEMBER 22nd, 2018
MERRITT, B.C. – The Trail Smoke Eaters erased a two-goal 1st period deficit and battled their way to a lead but eventually fell by a 5-3 score to the Merritt Centennials on Saturday night at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.
It was a feisty opening period of play that saw a fair share of trips to the penalty box and plenty of goals between the two sides, with Merritt opening the scoring at the 1:56 mark on the power play. Mattias Dal Monte had his right point shot squeeze through the glove side of Smoke Eaters netminder Logan Terness just inside the post to give the Centennials a 1-0 advantage courtesy of a 4-on-3 power play marker.
The Centennials continued to click on the power play and opened up a 2-0 lead at the 9:30 mark of the 1st frame on a goal mouth jam play. Bradley Cocca took the initial shot that was stopped by Terness but the puck continued to dribble to goal line before being whacked in by Nick Wicks in the blue paint to extend the Merritt lead to 2-0.
Trail forced their way back into the game just 40 seconds later as Kent Johnson cut the deficit to a 2-1 game. Chase Stevenson drove the net from below the goal line on the right side, powering his way to the front of the goal with Centennials netminder Austin Roden getting a stick on it but Johnson was there to lift the puck over the glove side for his 12th goal of the season and getting the Smoke Eaters on the board at the 10:10 mark of the opening frame.
Powell Connor erased the two-goal deficit at the 15:14 mark of the 1st period, using the unique environment of the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena to his advantage. Carter Jones wheeled into the slot and let a wrist shot go that missed wide on the blocker side but careened to the left face-off circle where Connor backhanded the puck past the glove side of Roden for his 2nd goal of the season and his 1st as a Smoke Eater to even the game at 2-2.
The Smoke Eaters got their first lead of the game early into the 2nd period at the 1:38 mark courtesy of a power play of their own. Diarmad DiMurro got the puck at the mid-point and shot through traffic to beat Roden on the blocker side with his 3rd goal of the season and gave Trail their first lead of the hockey game at 3-2.
The lead was short lived, however, as Merritt came back and knotted the game at three with Mathieu Gosselin doing the honours. Nick Granowicz fired a shot from the left side that went off the right pad of Terness with Gosselin driving the goal for the rebound and evening the game once more at 3-3.
The Centennials started to make a push after a media timeout in the 3rd period and got their lead back at the 10:46 mark with Brady Ziemer giving Merritt the go-ahead goal. Wicks centered a pass from the left side as Ziemer leaned into a shot from the right wing and slapped a shot past Terness on the blocker side to give the Cents a 4-3 lead.
Christian Sabin extended the Merritt lead to 5-3 at the 13:08 mark of the final period as he worked his way in on the right wing and let a shot go from the top of the left face-off circle that beat Terness on the blocker side to give the Centennials a two-goal lead and the eventual 5-3 victory.
Logan Terness turned aside 33 of the 38 shots he faced in the game in his second career BCHL start while Austin Roden stopped 27 of the 30 shots thrown his way in his 16th win of the season.
FINAL SCORE: 5-3 Centennials
SHOTS ON GOAL: 38-30 Centennials
SMOKE EATERS PP: 1/4
SMOKE EATERS PK: 5/7
1) Nicholas Wicks (1-1-2)
2) Brady Ziemer (1-0-1)
3) Mattias Dal Monte (1-0-1)
Fortis Energy Player of the Game: Brendan Schneider (0-1-1)
The Smoke Eaters (14-17-5-3) take time off for a two-week Christmas break before opening the new year back on home ice as they host the Surrey Eagles (8-26-1-2) at the Trail Memorial Centre on Friday, January 4th. Puck drop is slated for 7:00 PM with tickets available for purchase at the Smoke Eaters Main Office as well as at the door ahead of the opening face-off.