The Merritt Centennials are back on home ice this week after a weekend of island hopping, winning in Powell River the night before a tough loss in Nanaimo. Despite picking up some points this weekend, the Cents remain at the bottom of the Interior Conference with a season record of 7–14–3.
Night one of hockey action saw the Cents visit the Powell River Kings, with Cents opening up scoring on a power play advantage following a Kings boarding penalty just 5 minutes into the game. Kyle Isenberg scored the point, with new arrival Jackson Murphy-Johnson picking up his first point as a Cent with the assist. Anthony Yu with the Kings answered with a goal just two minutes later, ending the first period 1-1 despite three Cents penalties. The Centennials dominated the second period, scoring three unanswered goals to make the score 4-1. The team played an aggressive and solid period of hockey, only slowing down slightly in the third period. Cameron Symons scored at the 8:27 mark, making the score 4-2. After a hooking call late in the period for a Kings man advantage, Jack Blanchett made it 4-3 for the Kings. One minute later, with just 22 seconds left in the game, Cents Captain Davide Patella found the back of the net, making the final score 5-3 for the Cents win. Goalie Johnny Hicks stopped 36/39 in the game.
The second night was less fortuitous for the Centennials, losing a 7-3 game against the Clippers in Nanaimo’s Frank Crane Arena. It was a promising start for the Cents, who opened up scoring with a Walker Erickson goal just 2 minutes into the game. The Clippers wouldn’t answer until 12 minutes later, when Mike Murtagh found the back of the net to tie up the game and end scoring for the first period. The second period was off to a slow start, but the Clippers opened the floodgates at the 13 minute mark. Brody Waters opened it up with a power play goal after a Cents tripping call. This was followed by a shorthanded goal by Kai Daniells at the 15:37 mark, scoring despite the Cents man advantage. Charles Tardif would make it a 4-1 lead for the Clippers on another power play not long after at the 16:57 mark, with Cents Kyle Isenberg in the box for cross-checking. With 50 seconds left in the period, the Cents closed out scoring to make it 4-2, with Tristan Allen scoring a wrist-shot for his first goal of the season. The third period was also dominated by the Clippers, with Michael Craig scoring just one minute in. Brody Waters scored again for the Clippers six minutes later, assisted by Kai Daniells. Jackson Krill of the Cents then answered with a power play goal at the 9:51 mark, making the score 6-3. Any hopes of a comeback were squashed with 4 minutes left in the game, with the Clippers’ Mike Murtagh scoring an empty net goal after Connor Sullivan was pulled from play for an extra attacker. Sullivan made 41/47 saves in the 7-3 loss.
The Cents next take on the Trail Smoke Eaters on December 9, followed by a game against the Cowichan Valley Capitals on December 10. Both games will be played at the NVMA on Cents home ice, and puck drop is slated for 7PM. Friday’s game will be holiday sweater night, followed by a Teddy Bear Toss on Saturday. Game attendees are encouraged to wear a holiday sweater, and bring a teddy bear or small stuffed animal to throw on the ice at the first Cents goal. These will be donated to community groups for distribution this holiday season.