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GAME RECAP: Smoke Eaters Come Back Falls Just Short In 5-2 Loss To Cents

PHOTO: Mike Hockley

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DECEMBER 21st, 2018

TRAIL, B.C. – The Trail Smoke Eaters made a valiant comeback effort in the final 40 minutes of play but fell to the Merritt Centennials by a 5-2 score on Friday night at the Trail Memorial Centre.

Owen Ozar and Trevor Zins scored 3rd period goals that saw Trail claw their way back from a 3-0 final period deficit to get within a goal but a pair of markers from Christian Sabin and Nick Granowicz was too much to handle as the Smoke Eaters fell by 5-2 margin in the final home game of the calendar year.

The Centennials showed no signs of weary legs after a day of travel and dominated the 1st period on the scoreboard, opening the scoring at the 4:09 mark of the game. Nick Wicks centred a pass for Christian Sabin, who drove the net on the blocker side and chipped the puck past Smoke Eaters netminder Adam Marcoux to give Merritt the early lead at 1-0.

Brett Roloson doubled the Centennials lead to 2-0 at the 12:09 mark of the opening frame on a nice pass from below the goal line off the stick of Matthew Kopperud. Kopperud sent the puck to the bottom of the right circle as Roloson chipped it up and over the glove side of Marcoux to extend the Cents lead to two goals.

Merritt capped off a strong 1st period by extending their lead to 3-0 at the 16:30 mark on another net front drive. Nick Granowicz shot from the left circle went off a Trail defender guarding Vincent Guy at the front of the net with Granowicz being credited for the marker and make it a 3-0 game in favour of the visitors.

No scoring was reported in the second period though the Smoke Eaters had the better of the chances and opportunities in the middle stanza, notable by affiliate player Chase Dafoe. Dafoe had a breakaway chance knocked away just at the front of the net while he worked his way to the slot off a face-off win but had his shot stopped by Centennials goaltender Vincent Duplessis, who made 13 saves in the period and 20 overall in the game.

Adam Marcoux made a big stop before the period came to end with Payton Matsui taking the puck to the net on a shorthanded break behind the defence before Marcoux made the left pad stop, the 16th save of his night on 19 shots through two periods that saw the Centennials hold a 3-0 lead into the final period of play.

The Smoke Eaters clawed their way back in the 3rd period, getting on the scoreboard at the 3:53 mark of the final period courtesy of a power play. Spencer McLean centered the puck from the glove side below the goal line and found Owen Ozar at the bottom of the left face-off circle as he beat Duplessis over the blocker shoulder with his 7th goal of the season and cut the deficit to 3-1 early into the period.

Trevor Zins brought the fans to their feet at the 10:23 mark of the 3rd period with a goal to get the Smoke Eaters within one. Zins took a Chase Stevenson drop pass from the right side and leaned into a slap shot, firing the puck past the blocker side of Duplessis for his 7th goal of the season and cut the Merritt lead to one at 3-2.

Hayden Rowan came inches from tying the game as he had his shot from the right wing chipped to the net and off the crossbar as the Centennials brought the puck the other way as Christian Sabin tapped in his second goal of the night, driving the net and pushing the puck past the blocker side of Marcoux to give the Cents a 4-2 lead at the 15:42 mark.

Nick Granowicz collected an empty netter at the 19:20 mark of the 3rd period for his second of the game to cap the scoring at 5-2 in favour of the Centennials. Adam Marcoux turned aside 20 of the 24 shots he faced in the game in his 18th loss of the season while Vincent Duplessis stopped 30 of the 32 shots thrown his way in his 8th win of the season.

FINAL SCORE: 5-2 Centennials

SHOTS ON GOAL: 32-24 Smoke Eaters

SMOKE EATERS PP: 1/3

SMOKE EATERS PK: 1/1

3 STARS:

1) Christian Sabin (2-0-2)

2) Nick Granowicz (2-0-2)

3) Matthew Kopperud (0-2-2)

Fortis Energy Player of the Game: Chase Stevenson (0-2-2)

ATTENDANCE: 2,205

The Smoke Eaters (14-18-5-3) head out on the road to conclude their home-and-home set and play their final game of the year 2018 as they face-off against the Merritt Centennials (22-13-1-1) at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena. Puck drop is slated for 7:00 PM with the pre-game show getting underway at 6:50 PM on mixlr.com/trail-smoke-eaters as well as HockeyTV.com with the Voice of the Smoke Eaters, Trevor Miller.