Sunday, August 28, 2016
Exhibition: Merritt 4 Vernon 3
Postgame: Cents 4 Vipers 3 (Exhibition)
Saturday, 27 August 2016
Written by Mantar Bhandal
The Centennials defeated the Vernon Vipers 4-3 on Saturday
The Merritt Centennials swept their home-and-home with the Vernon Vipers, winning again on Saturday 4-3 at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena. It was a thriller, as the game was within a goal four different times. The Cents featured a different lineup, with Tyler Ward, Ethan Skinner, and Tyler Recchi drawing out up front. On defense, Mark O'Shaughnessy, Tyler Holz, Marshall Skapski and Jake Livingston all drew in. In net, Jake Berger got the night off with Daniel Paul getting the start. This was the third different starting goaltender in three games for the Centennials this preseason.
The game started off with the Centennials scoring first for the second straight game when Chase Bell scored his first of the preseason at the 7:53 mark. Then later in the first period, the team received a scare when forward Nick Wicks took a blindside hit. He finished his shift, but looked wobbly. He left the game and did not return. Cents Assistant Coach/Assistant GM Matt Samson has labelled Wicks as day-to-day with an upper body injury that is not concussion-related. Tyler Pietrowski took Wicks' spot on the second line.
In the second period, the Vipers tied it up at the 3:09 mark when Soi Seibel snapped home his first of the preseason on a two on one. The tie was short-lived, as 25 seconds later John Stein sniped home his first of the preseason to give the lead back to the Cents. A minute and a half later, Vernon tied it up again as Nic Rasovic scored. Both teams then switched goaltenders. Dorian LaBranche came in to relieve Daniel Paul, who stopped 16 of the 18 shots he faced. Vipers starter Gavin Hubbard couldn't get off the ice fast enough as he faced a staggering 32 shots in under 30 minutes of play. His replacement was Cole Demers. Late in the period, with 1:08 remaining, Mark O'Shaughnessy scored to give the Cents their third lead of the night.
In the third period, the Vipers tied the game on a controversial play. LaBranche was out behind the net playing the puck, when the net tilted upwards. The puck slid out to the slot underneath the net, and Cameron Kuhl buried it in the empty net. LaBranche was up in arms as he felt the play should've been blown dead. All four officials gathered, and after discussion, the goal stood. It didn't matter, because at the 11:11 mark, Henry Cleghorn rifled home a loose puck to give the Centennials the lead.
There was some controversy at the end as well, as with the net empty, the Vipers called a timeout. The clock read 20.5 seconds. The actual game clock ran during the timeout. As a result, the clock read 0:00 when the teams lined up for the faceoff in the Centennials' zone. The referees conversed with the timekeepers, and instead of the clock reading 20.5, it read 28.5. The Vipers were given an extra 8 seconds. It didn't matter however, as the Centennials hung on for the 4-3 victory.
The final shots on net were 54-34 Centennials. It was the first time all preseason the Centennials outshot their opposition. The Centennials improved their record to 2-0-0-1 in preseason play, with two games left on the schedule before the regular season begins. The Centennials open a home-and-home with the West Kelowna Warriors on Friday.