A busy weekend at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena saw the Merritt Centennials battle two of the top teams in the BCHL, managing to come out relatively unscathed with a pair of points.
Friday, Nov. 3 – Centennials 6, West Kelowna Warriors 4
The Cents looked to start the new month on a high note on Friday against the Warriors after closing out October with back-to-back losses at the NVMA. Both sides came out the gate strong with 11 shots each in the opening frame, playing to a 1-1 tie after 20 minutes including Cents forward Michael Felsing’s sixth of the year.
The Warriors took a 2-1 lead early in the second with Sawyer Prokopetz in the box for the home side, though the rest of the period was all Cents. Dylan Lariviere continued his hot streak by scoring twice to notch six points in the last six games, while Nathan Taylor added another to put the Cents up 4-2 heading into the third.
Dylan Wegner potted his third of the season shortly into the final frame to add some insurance, as the Warriors brought it back to 5-4 before Ryan Spinale added a final-minute empty-netter for a final score of 6-4.
Karlis Mezsargs continued his strong showing between the pipes this season with his third win in his last four games, while Lariviere took home first star of the game honours for his two-goal effort.
Saturday, Nov. 4 – Centennials 2, Penticton Vees 5
There was little time to rest and celebrate Friday’s victory as the Cents returned to home ice the following evening to battle with the reigning BCHL champion and current Interior division-leading Penticton Vees.
The Vees’ scoring prowess was evident early on as the road side beat Mezsargs just over three minutes into the game to take a 1-0 lead, though the Cents’ Jaxson Murray returned the favour less than a minute later, his second goal since returning to the team in late October.
Special teams was the name of the game in the second period, as Penticton once again took the lead early with Nathan Taylor in the box for interference. It was then the Vees’ turn to get into penalty trouble, with goaltender Andrew Ness sending a puck over the glass to prompt a 5-on-3 powerplay for the Cents, who capitalized to tie the game at two.
From there, however, it was all Vees, adding one more in the second and two more in the third for a final score of 5-2.
The Centennials are back in action on Nov. 10 as they begin a two-game road swing in Vernon to face another tough division rival in the Vernon Vipers, who will enter the matchup on a three-game winning streak.
They then head to West Kelowna on Nov. 14 to visit the Warriors, before returning home to the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena on Nov. 17 to host Vernon.