The Merritt Centennials dropped a pair of games to divisional opponents last weekend in BCHL hockey action missing a chance to draw closer to fifth in the tough Interior Division.

On Friday night, Owen Kim’s overtime goal completed his hattrick and helped the Vernon Vipers to a 5-4 win over the Centennials at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.

The Vipers came out flying to start the game and eventually built a 4-0 lead before the game was 22 minutes old. However, as the Cents have done all season long, they persevered and scored four times in the second frame to tie it at 4-4.

With no scoring in the third period, extra time was needed setting up Owen Kim’s heroics at 1:09 of overtime.

Michael Felsing (16) Michael Stenberg (8), Luke Pfoh (11) and Easton Ryan (10) scored for the Cents who outshot the Vipers 35-34.

On Saturday night, another slow start put the Centennials behind the eight-ball against division leader Penticton. The Vees jumped out to a 3-0 first period lead and staved off the Centennials for a 5-2 win in Penticton.

The Centennials were looking for their first victory over the Vees in nearly six years, however Penticton goalie Andrew Ness shut the door, stopping 29 of 31 shots he faced to pick up his 15th win of the season.

Dylan Lariviere (11) and Charles-Thomas Larochelle (10) scored for the Centennials who head to Prince George to play the struggling Spruce Kings on both Friday and Saturday night.

The Cents are three points ahead of Cranbrook for sixth spot in the Interior Division and 13 points better than the Spruce Kings who are mired in the division basement. Game time on Friday night is 7 p.m. while puck drop Saturday night is at 6 p.m.