The Merritt Centennials scored three unanswered goals, two in the second period, en route to a 3-2 victory over the Penticton Vees Friday at the SOEC. Brandon Bruce scored the eventual game-winning goal late in the second period as the Centennials take the first meeting of the season.
The Vees did strike first in the opening period when Ryan Gropp stick-handled around Tyler Steel at 9:34. Gropp collected a loose puck in front of the Merritt net and put a backhand over the down and out Merritt goaltender for his third of the season.
Brendan Lamont leveled the game at one’s in the dying moments of the period. Lamont came out from behind the net and tucked a puck underneath Chad Katunar at the near-post; Lamont’s fourth at 19:44.
The game closely mirrored last Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Chiefs. Like last week, the Vees were tied heading into the second, only to see their opponent pull away with two goals minutes apart. The Cents took their first lead of the game at 16:41of the middle stanza, when Sebastien Pare skated down the left-wing and slipped a puck past Katunar on the short-side. Less than two minutes later the Cents’ padded their lead after a scramble in the crease. Richard Sabourin’s point-shot squeaked through Katunar and Brandon Bruce poked the puck in at 18:20. Nic Renyard replaced Katunar in goal to start the third period; Katunar allowing three goals on 24 shots through two periods of work.
After being outshot 24-9 in the first two periods, the Vees started to put it together in the third, in an attempt to climb out of a two-goal hole. Their persistence paid off late when call-up Derek Hughes snuck a point-shot past Tyler Steel at 15:10. Cody DePourcq won a face-off back to Hughes, whose seeing-eye wrist-shot beat Steel over the shoulder; Hughes’s first BCHL goal. However, the Vees failed to net a third goal as the Centennials thwarted the Vees third period rally.
FINAL SCORE: 3-2 CENTS’
Shots: 31-19 Cents’
Power-Plays: Vees 0/4 Cents’ 0/3
Three Stars: 1) Regan Soquila 2) Brendan Lamont 3) Ryan Gropp
Vees Notes: The loss is the Vees third straight, all three at home and drops their record to 13-4-0-2. The loss is the Vees first to a divisional opponent, as they were 9-0-0 against the Interior Division heading into tonight’s game.
At the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia Troy Stecher, James de Haas, Mike Rebry, Wade Murphy and Team Canada West edged Team Canada East 1-0 in semi-final action. The win puts Team Canada West into Sunday’s gold medal game against the United States. Both de Haas and Murphy assisted on Seb Lloyd’s second period tally.
Up Next: The Vees travel to Chilliwack on Saturday night to face the Mainland Division leading Chiefs at Prospera Centre; puck drop is 7pm. The Vees next home game is Friday, November 16th, as the Salmon Silverbacks make their first trip to the SOEC this season.