The Merritt Centennials had a spirited bout within themselves on Friday morning, and Team White was able to find the late magic to prevail 3-1 in a tight checking, physical affair.
In period one, the teams came out flying in what's been the closest to real game action they've experienced so far. With the pace ramping up, Liam Visram went across the blue line to Lucas Lundy who fired up to Josh Olson. Olson was able to out maneuver the d man, and cut in with a short-side snipe - glove high on Josh Dias to open the scoring in the Intrasquad Barnes Cup. Despite chances, that would be all the scoring provided from the first period. Shots after 1 were just 6 aside.
It didn't take long for Team Red to level the ledger in period 2 as Grayson Valente chopped the puck up the wall to Jake McLean who made a clever bank play to himself to cut around the defender at the line, that sprung McLean and Brandon Dent on a two-on-one and after a pass across the offensive zone, Brandon Dent pulled to the backhand and had just enough to squeeze it under the pad of Colton Phillips-Watts five-hole. After the early goal, the physical play really took off with some crushing hits, some players taking exception, and some after whistle scrums, but none of it led to more offense on the scoreboard. After 2 shots were 15-10 Team Red.
The final frame started off a little more muted than the second period ended, but the pace didn't slow. It wasn't until midway through that the deadlock at 1's was finally broken. Mark Thurston was working hard behind the net, worked his man off the puck, and found an unmarked Carson Preston open in front who was able to tuck the puck under the bar from the sharp angle over Dias to make it 2-1 White. Team Red continued to push for the equalizer, and even pulled the goalie in the final minutes to try and get the tying goal, but a Lucas Lundy prayer was answered when he found pay dirt from the opposite end of the rink to ice the game 3-1. Final shots were 22-18 Red.
After the game, Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter said that he was impressed by the pace.
"What we were looking for coming into this game was could they keep the pace up for the entire game, and the boys did that. It was nice to see the intensity out here as well, we have 30 guys that all want to be Merritt Centennials out there, and they are going to force us to make some tough decisions to get to 25."
The Centennials will look to play game 2 of the Barnes Cup on Tuesday morning at 11:30am - free to view on at hockeytv.com.
A reminder to look for Merritt Team Red or White as opposed to Centennials when searching for the games as they are not part of the official schedule.