In their first home game in three weeks, the Merritt Centennials returned to the reopened NVMA on Friday to earn their first win of the season.

The junior A squad entered the game at a distinct disadvantage to the Wenatchee Wild, having been displaced from their homes and billet homes since Nov. 15 when the City of Merritt was placed on Evacuation Order. It was also the first night that the Cents were without longtime veteran, and hometown player, Talon Zakall, who was shipped to the Vernon Vipers just days earlier.

His old teammates, however, were able to pick up the slack against the Wild. Levi Carter notched his first goal in a Centennials uniform in the first period to give the home team a 1-0 advantage after twenty minutes.

Wenatchee bounced back in the second, throwing puck after puck at Cents goaltender Keegan Maddocks in a 24-shot period and taking a 2-1 lead, though a late goal by Ben Ward had the teams tied heading into the final frame.

The teams traded goals in the third, including Ward with his second of the game, to send it to overtime at 3-3.

It was just under four minutes into the extra frame that Ward capped off the hat trick, giving Merritt its first win of the season.

The three stars of the game was an all-Merritt roster. For his efforts Ward took first star, Maddocks took second in stopping a whopping 50 of 53 Wenatchee shots, and Will Bowman rounded it out with a pair of assists.

The Cents will look to stay on track tonight when they host the Trail Smoke Eaters. Puck drop is at 7p.m.

Find the full story in the upcoming Dec. 9 edition of the Merritt Herald.