Smoke Eaters Fall In Merritt To Centennials By 4-2 Score
The Trail Smoke Eaters got goals from Mack Byers and Braeden Tuck but could not find their way past the Interior Division leading Merritt Centennials, falling by a 4-2 score on Saturday night at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.
Mack Byers tied the game after the Centennials took a 1st period lead but a two-goal 2nd period by Merritt was the difference as they handed the Smoke Eaters a 4-2 loss on the road in the first of six meetings between the teams this season.
The Centennials were first to hit the scoresheet in the game and take a 1-0 lead at the 7:47 mark courtesy of their captain, Nick Wicks. Bradley Cocca centered a pass from behind the goal for Nick Granowicz in the slot, where he fanned on the one timer but ended up pushing the puck for Wicks on the blocker side to get past Smoke Eaters netminder Adam Marcoux for a 1-0 lead.
Trail was able to get the game on even terms late in the opening period coming on an expiring power play. Diarmad DiMurro threw a puck on net from the right wing which was stopped by the glove side of Austin Roden with the rebound coming free for Mack Byers as he beat Roden on the blocker side for his 8th goal of the season and the power play marker with jus 46 seconds remaining in the period tied the game at 1-1 heading into the 2nd frame.
Merritt brought the pressure in the middle stanza and took their second lead of the game at the 15:14 mark on a wraparound. Ben Ward gathered the puck behind the net and quickly stuffed it past the left pad of Marcoux to retake the lead for the Centennials at 2-1.
Rylan Van Unen doubled the lead late in the 2nd period at the 18:13 mark on a one-timer from the left face-off circle. Brendan Schneider fed Van Unen a pass from below the goal line with the third-year Centennial one-timing the puck past Marcoux on the goal side to give Merritt a two-goal advantage at 3-1 heading into the final period of play.
The Smoke Eaters had a power play that ran past the 2nd period into the 3rd and captain Braeden Tuck got the game to within one. Tuck started a give-and-go with Chase Stevenson as he returned the puck back to Tuck in the left circle before he beat Roden on the blocker side for his 10th goal of the season and made it a 3-2 game early into the 3rd period at the 1:13 mark.
Trail found themselves shorthanded moments after Tuck’s marker and Brendan Schneider restored the two-goal lead for the Centennials just 41 seconds later. The Smoke Eaters were unable to get the puck out of their own zone and Merritt converted with Schneider flipping a puck past Marcoux on a scramble in front of the net to give the Cents a 4-2 advantage.
In the game’s final moments, Trail did get a four-minute power play in an attempt to tie the game as they pulled the goaltender with 2:30 remaining in the game but could not beat Roden, who stood tall and helped the Centennials to the 4-2 victory.
FINAL SCORE: 4-2 Centennials
SHOTS ON GOAL: 36-32 Centennials
SMOKE EATERS PP: 2/6
SMOKE EATERS PK: 5/6
1) Brendan Schneider (1-1-2)
2) Ben Ward (1-0-1)
3) Joey Berkopec (0-1-1)
Fortis Energy Player of the Game: Nicholas Wicks (1-0-1)
The Smoke Eaters (10-10-4-2) head up north to conclude their season series against the Prince George Spruce Kings (16-7-0-1) on Wednesday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 PM from the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena with the pre-game show airing at 6:50 PM on mixlr.com/trail-smoke-eaters as well as HockeyTV.com with the Voice of the Smoke Eaters, Trevor Miller.