Round 1 goes to the Centennials! It was the first of a home and home series, and the Centennials were the better team tonight. They were able to capitalize on key mistakes, as all three goals came from break downs int heir own end. Kirk Thompson played a great hockey game, stopping 28 shots, many of which were stellar saves, but his team couldn't add enough insurance to capture the win at home. Round 2 goes tomorrow night, but let's recap tonight’s match up between the Merritt Centennials and your Prince George Spruce Kings:
The Break Down:
The first period started out well for the Spruce Kings, and through the first ten minutes, they controlled the action. But the Centennials were able to turn things around after that, and grab hold of the momentum. Merritt would make good on their second power play of the game, which turned out to be the second half of a four minute penalty to Trevor Esau, as Silvan Harper put home a wrap around attempt. It didn't take to much longer for the Centennials to add to their lead, as Harper potted his second of the evening, a one timer out front, at 16:29 of the first. The period would end this way, But not before Paul De Jersey and Peyton Schaefer would drop the mits. Although the fight ended with both men crashing to the ice before landing a punch, the scrap seemed to pump up both squads
The big play to remember from the second period, was an elbow that lead to the games first ejection. Myles Fitzgerald hit his man with what the referee called an elbow to the head. The call lead to Myles getting the gate early, and leaving his team with the task of killing a 5 minute major. Kirk Thompson made multiple incredible saves to help his team eventual kill off the major, leaving many to believe that this could be a potential turning point. The Spruce Kings forwards rewarded their goaltenders play with a goal 4 minutes afterwards as Paul De Jersey ripped home his 22nd of the season. Ben Woodley and Michael Colantone added the helpers on the Spruce Kings first tally. It was a 2-1 hockey game in favour of Merritt heading into the third, and momentum was starting to tilt in favour of Prince George.
Although the Spruce Kings had lots of good things to work off of starting the third, it as Merritt who once again capitalized on another Prince George mistake behind their own net. Reece Wilcox found puck that squirted out of a pack, and wrap one past the sprawling Thompson. The goal would be the eventual game winner for the Centennials. Chase Golightly would make things interesting late, firing one home form the point, but it became to much to over come for the Spruce Kings. The end of the game saw things start to turn ugly as Ben Woodley and Jakob Reichert fought, as did both teams coaching staffs. Emotions boiled over on ice, leading to a few more shoving matches, and setting the stage for an intense rematch tomorrow night. Tyler Steel received the win tonight, making 26 saves
It should also be noted just how short handed the Spruce Kings became as the game went on. Prince George started the game with just 11 starting forwards as Sean Landrey and Michael Klonarakis sat with injuries. Myles FItzgerald was the next to go, getting ejected for an elbow to the head. Stefan Bazar then left the game with an undisclosed injury, with Ben Woodley getting the gate for a fighting major late in the game. When it was all sad and done, with 8 minutes to play, the Spruce Kings had 9 forwards and 5 defenseman on the bench.
To get a check out the full recap and box score of tonight's match up, click here
The Three Stars:
3) (PG) Gerry Fitzgerald
2) (MER) Silvan Harper – 2 Goals
1) (PG) Kirk Thompson – 28 Saves
The Next Game:
These two teams will do it again tomorrow night in Merritt. This is exactly what the BCHL had in mind when they scheduled this BCHL 50th anniversary celebration weekend. It was a great game tonight between division rivals, and one that neither team wanted to lose. The emotions ran high, and boiled over on the ice and on the benches. The stage for tomorrow's game has been set, and this one is going to be a rough hard fought battle. Be sure to not miss this one tomorrow night in Merritt. The puck will drop at 7:30 and you can watch the web cast here