Centennials fans were treated to fireworks early on New Years Eve, with the Merritt squad playing host to the Chilliwack Chiefs in a spirited affair.

Looking to rebound from a 4-1 loss to the Surrey Eagles in their return from the Christmas break two days prior, the Cents took to the ice in front of a crowd of close to 700 at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena for a Dec. 31 matinee.

Easton Ryan was able to get the home team on the board early, notching his fourth of the season just over three minutes in. Chilliwack rebounded with a pair of their own to take the lead, though Merritt tied it at two when a Sawyer Prokopetz dump-in took a lucky bounce off the back boards to somehow find the back of the net.

The high-scoring affair continued before the end of the first period, with Chilliwack adding another to take a 3-2 lead into the intermission, before both goaltenders were able to settle in.

It wasn’t until just past the midway point of the second that the lamp was lit again, this time with Michael Stenberg picking up his fifth of the season to tie it at three.

Cents goalie Andrew Ballantyne was perfect through nine shots in the period, only to be beat one more time just under three minutes into the final frame.

Despite the Cents putting on a late press, the goal would count as the winner, a 4-3 victory for the Chiefs.

The back-to-back losses have slowed Merritt’s roll as of late as they continue to try to creep their way to a .500 record, currently sitting at 11-15-3-1.

Merritt opens up the 2024 calendar with a visit to the West Kelowna Warriors on Jan. 5, before returning home to the NVMA on Jan. 12 to play host to the Cranbrook Bucks, with just one point currently separating the two teams in the Interior division standings.