The Merritt Centennials may have brought a shortened bench on Tuesday night to Trail, but they didn’t bring a lack of effort.
The Smoke Eaters hosted the Merritt Centennials on Tuesday night looking for their fifth win of the season over their Interior division rivals. As both teams came flying out of the gate to start the game it was the Smoke Eaters who opened the scoring. Owen Ozar, who picked up his 20th goal of the season, let rip a shot from the top of the slot that picked the corner so cleanly some thought it didn’t go in.
After a short debate play resumed with the Smoke Eaters striking again just 42 seconds later. This time it was Max Kryski who tipped in a perfect pass from Braden Costello through Cents goaltender Tanner Marshall. The Smoke Eaters looked in complete control going to the break up 2-0
The second period saw the Centennials erase the Smoke Eaters 2-0 lead with the first goal by Hunor Trozsok just five minutes into the period. Trail would restore the two goal advantage going up 3-1 on a Michael Colella’s 18th goal of the season. Kent Johnson fed Colella a perfect cross ice pass for a back door one-timer that Marshall stood no chance on. The two goal advantage was short lived as the Cents would answer 13 seconds later on a goal from Chase Nameth. The Smoke Eaters took a slim 3-2 lead to the 2nd intermission looking to kill things off in the 3rd.
The Cents would tie the game six minutes into the third period as their captain Rylan Van Unen beat Matteo Paler-Chow on a 2-on-1 six minutes into the period. Kryski would then pick up his second on the night with a waist high tip in from Philippe Lapointe to put the Smokies back in front.
The Smoke Eaters then picked up a fortunate goal as Walker Erickson and Chase Dafoe caused mayhem in front of the Centennials net. Erickson who got the goal, got a piece of the puck as it was in the feet of the goaltender Marshall, his defenceman and pin balled its way into the net. The goal would stand as the eventual game winner. The Smoke Eaters would add one more for insurance, an empty net goal from Matt Osadick in the final ten seconds to score against his former team making it 6-4.
It wasn’t by any means pretty, or how the Smoke Eaters would have drawn it up. Nor will they be thrilled with losing a two goal lead twice. That being said they got the job done and picked up their 27th win of they year and their 58th point, surpassing last years point total with 13 games remaining. They’re back at it Friday night when they host the Vernon Vipers for the final time this season.