When the Merritt Centennials took to the ice at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton on Wednesday night for game two of their opening round playoff series with the Vees, they would undoubtedly be looking to make some amends for a horrific opening effort the night before.

Tuesday, in front of a sparse crowd of 1,358 at the cavernous SOEC, the Cents simply failed to show up for game one of their best-of-seven series with the Vees and were soundly thumped 8-0 by the Interior division regular-season champions.

Penticton took a page out of Merritt’s playbook on Tuesday in handing Merritt its worst loss this season. The Vees simply outworked the Cents from the first drop of the puck until the merciful final buzzer 60 minutes of playing time later.

The tone for Tuesday’s game was set early, as the Vees came out skating in the first period and the Cents did not. The ice was heavily tilted in Penticton’s favour and the Vees lived in the Cents’ end, outshooting their opponents 16-5 in the process.

Had it not been for the stellar play of Merritt netminder Devin Kero in the opening 20 minutes, Tuesday’s contest could have been over in a heartbeat. Somewhat miraculously, the two teams went to their respective dressing rooms at the first intermission tied at 0-0.

While Kero continued to stand on his head at the start of the second period, his teammates failed to rally around his inspirational play. The roof finally caved in at 9:48 of the second stanza, when the Vees’ Brad McLure scored at the end of a powerplay to put Penticton up 1-0.

Rather than awaken the Centennials, the opening goal of the game seemed to only lull them further into their funk. They allowed the Vees’ Matthew Serratore and Cody DePourcq to score two more times in a span of less than four minutes to all but seal Merritt’s fate.

Any chance of a third-period comeback by the Cents was dashed just 28 seconds into the final frame of regulation play as Cam Amantea executed a perfect tap-in to put Penticton ahead 4-0, and Riley Alfred scored four minutes later to bring the spread to five.

Mercifully, Kero’s night was over as the Cents’ heroic netminder was pulled after facing 35 shots in just over 45 minutes worth of action and getting almost no help from his supporting cast.

Backup goalie Jarrod Schamerhorn fared not much better in the Cents’ net, as he was left hung out to dry in the final 15 minutes. The Vees’ Paul Stoykewych, Shane McColgan and McLure all beat the former Western Hockey League puckstopper on a night when the hometown team seemed capable of scoring at will.

Frustration boiled over in the final minutes of the lopsided game as the Cents’ Devin Oakes was tossed for a vicious, retaliatory two-handed slash to the back of an unnamed Vees’ leg. Shortly thereafter, Merritt’s Malik Kaila received a minor and 10-minute misconduct for his mauling of the Vees’ pesky McCoglan.

The final shot count favoured the Vees, 44-20. They scored on one of their four powerplay opportunities, while the Cents failed to take advantage on their one man-advantage chance in the game.

Olivier Mantha had an easy night of it in the Vees’ net picking up the shutout.

The Centennials were without leading point-getter Diego Cuglietta, Dane Birks and Rhett Willcox in their series opener with the Vees.

Cuglietta is still recovering from the high hit he took from Vernon’s Jared Wilson in the final game of the regular season, while Birks suffered an undisclosed upper body injury in practice on Monday. Willcox is close to returning to action after rehabbing a lengthy lower body ailment.

Regardless of Wednesday’s outcome, the Cents will be at home for games three and four at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena on Friday and Saturday night. They’ll be looking for a loud, proud and raucous crowd at the old barn to help spur them onto victory. The puck drops both nights at 7:30 p.m.