— by Harit Joshi

It wasn’t the kind of start Merritt Centennials would have expected to kick start the New Year after receiving 0-5 thrashing at the hands of West Kelowna Warriors in their away game on January 5.

This was by far the only one-sided contest between the two teams who have clashed for six times this season with the Cents winning twice.

The first period was fought closely with both teams having a shy at the goal post 10 times each. However, Jack Pridham found the net just 39 seconds after play kicked off to provide a 1-0 lead for the Warriors. His teammate Brennan Nelson doubled the lead for the Warriors in the 13th minute, providing a significant boost to the team’s morale.

The disappointing opening period prompted the Cents to change their goalie with new recruit Dylan Adams taking over the charge from Karlis Mezsargs in the second period. There was, however, no change to their fortunes as the Warriors struck for the third time in the game through Viggo Nordstrom in the 13th minute.

The second period also saw a dramatic fall in the Cents’ shots on the goal (four) as compared to the Warriors (12).

The Cents further depleted in the final period, literally giving up on putting up any fight with the Warriors. The home team landed final blows on the Cents by striking twice in the span of five minutes. Warriors’ centreforward Jackson Kyrkostas scored his 14th goal of the season after an assist from Nelson in the 11th minute.

Pridham, who was penalized for slashing, struck immediately after coming on to the ice for the second time in the game.

The seventh-placed Cents (26 points) are now just one point shy of laggards Prince George Spruce Kings (25) in the league standings.

The Cents have a busy action-packed weekend, starting with Cranbrook Bucks, who occupy the sixth spot with 30 points, on January 12 at home. The Cents can take confidence from their last two meetings against the Bucks where they beat them 5-4 and 4-2 in back-to-back games in October.

The Cents then travel to play Salmon Arm Silverbacks for the first time this season before heading to clash against familiar opponents West Kelowna Warriors on January 14.