Cents Start on Bittersweet Note:

This is posted on the Merritt News website:

September 29, 2011

Robin Poon – News Reporter

The Merritt Centennials started off the regular season on a bittersweet note, bowing to the Prince George Spruce Kings 6-3 Friday before recovering Saturday for a 4-3 win.

At the Prince George Coliseum Friday, the Spruce Kings jumped to a two-goal lead by the end of the first period and adding another at the top of the second, leaving the goal-less Cents scrambling to catch up.

Newly minted Cents captain Evan Stack proved his worth twice that evening, breaking the streak in a power play just after the game’s halfway mark, at 10:23 in the second period. He scored once more in the losing effort during the third period.

In between, Chad Brears added one other goal late in the second period.

However, the Spruce Kings easily maintained their initial lead for the rest of the game.

While Stack’s goal in the third period brought the score to 4-3 and nearly closed the gap, the Spruce Kings added two more goals before the game’s end, resulting in a 6-3 victory for the home team.

The Spruce Kings also outshot the Cents 33-17.

Billy Marshall, Silvan Harper, Regan Soquila, Richard Sabourin, and Brandon Pfeil, all returning Centennials, each added an assist.

Centennial Lino Chimienti tended goal throughout the game, making 27 saves.

The Spruce Kings again made the first mark on the scoreboard Saturday but the Centennials were much quicker to respond.

After Jujhar Khaira added the first goal for Prince George at 8:48 in the first period, Centennial Payton Schaefer tied him at 14:48.

Schaefer was born and raised in Merritt. Although he played several games (and scored) for the Cents as an affiliate, Saturday’s goal was his first as a full British Columbia Hockey League player.

Leo Fitzgerald added another Spruce Kings goal at the end of the first period.

However, Pfeil and Stephen Wall added two more for the Cents in the second period.

Fitzgerald managed to tie the score with a second goal in the third, but Soquila responded less than two-and-a-half minutes later.

Soquila also racked up an assist, as did Marshall, Stack, and fellow vets Brent Fletcher and Dustin Lebrun. New team members Brandon Bruce, Dylan Chanter, Brandon Bruce, and Brendan Lamont had an assist each as well.

Tyler Steel kept the pucks at bay Saturday, blocking 35 Spruce Kings shots.

The Centennials faced the Trail Smoke Eaters Wednesday evening. The results of that game were not available as of press time.

The team’s home opener is 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena, again playing against the Smoke Eaters. They face the Westside Warriors 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

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