It was fast, it was furious and it was entertaining at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena last night. The Cents would get the game winner near the midway mark of the third period and take game 3 by a score of 4-3.
The Cents really fed off the crowd early, and dominated the first period. At one point the shots on goal were 16-3 for the Cents. 4 powerplay chances sure helped that, but the Cents couldn't get on the board despite some quality chances. Payton Schaefer would be ejected from the game for a blow to the head major penalty. I didn't think there was intent to injure, but anytime you get your hands up in the head area of a player there is a risk. The penalty kill had a huge challenge as the Warriors began the 5 minute powerplay, but with a few shots from outside, and missed passes the period would end scoreless.
The powerplay continued into the second period and once again the Cents were able to kill off the remaining time. That proved to be important as the Cents would get a chance on the man advantage and would finally get on the board as Regan Soquila slammed home a pass from the corner (from Silvan Harper) and the Cents led 1-0. The Cents would get another powerplay 17 seconds later and Derek Huisman would wire a wrist shot past Tyler Briggs to give the Cents a 2 goal lead (from Tyler Martin and Regan Soquila). The Warriors as they have throughout their unbeaten streak, refused to go away and Ambrose Firkus would get them on the board as he would one time a shot past Steel (from Matt Berry and Matt Anholt). It was an undisciplined period for the Warriors as they would take another penalty and once again Merritt would make them pay as Dylan Chanter would let a well placed wrist shot go from the left circle getting through Briggs and it was 3-1 (from Pare and Fletcher). It was then the Cents turn to take an undisciplined penalty late in the period and Marcus Basara would re-direct a slap pass past Steel (from Josh Monk and Max French) and at the end of 2 periods the game was 3-2.
The third was a balanced affair, but the Cents would get a man advantage early, but couldn't get much going on it. That would motivate the Warriors as Daniel Gayle would score his second of the playoffs to tie the game up (from Seb Lloyd and Matt Berry). The game wouldn't be tied for long as a lucky bounce off the referee would allow Jeff Wight two chances to put the puck past Briggs (from Diego Cuglietta and Scotty Patterson) and the Cents led once again 4-3. The Warriors would get a late powerplay but some good goaltending from Steel prevented West K from getting the equalizer. There would be a few scraps towards the end of regulation as Josh Monk laid out Regan Soquila with a late hit, Brendan Lamont would step in and drop the gloves with Monk in a spirited tilt. Shortly after that Regan Soquila would drop the gloves with Seb Lloyd. The Warriors would then pull Tyler Briggs for the extra attacker, but the Cents would hold on to a 4-3 win and now trail the series 2-1.
Shots - Merritt 48 West Kelowna 32
Powerplays - Merritt 3 for 9 West Kelowna 1 for 4
3 Stars - 1) Regan Soquila 2) Jeff Wight 3) Matt Berry
Final Thoughts - This was exactly the type of game the Cents were looking to play. They played physical, yet relatively disciplined. They're powerplay was very effective and I thought it helped keep the puck away from their end. There was a definite edge to the game with the two fights late, and it shows these teams really don't like each other very much. Its hard to put into words the entertainment value that the fans at the Nicola Valley Arena were treated to. It was a great game between two great teams.
These two teams meet again tonight for game 4. All of the action can be heard on Q101 and Q101.ca starting at 6:30 with the pregame show, play by play starts at 7!