(ISN) – MERRIT, BC-Dressing just nine regular forwards upfront, an undermanned Penticton Vees squad dropped a 5-1 decision to the Merritt Centennials Wednesday, at Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.
Merritt (18-13-0-2) used a strong special teams performance to halt the Vees (26-5-2-1) five-game undefeated streak and in the process, snapped a three-game losing streak against Penticton.
Already missing five regulars heading into this week’s slate of games, the Vees were dealt another blow when Jack Ramsey was ruled out of the line-up with an upper-body injury.
Merritt took the lead just under six-minutes into the game, when Cole Chorney broke the ice on a Centennial’s power-play. Chorney rushed down the right-wing before cutting to the middle and putting a backhand over Brendan Barry t 5:47.
The Vees had a couple of quality chances to tie the game but couldn’t solve Cents’ starter Jonah Imoo, as he stopped all 13 shots he faced in the opening twenty-minutes.
Merritt doubled their lead in the second and again scored early, as Colin Grannary scored his first of two on the night. Grannary took advantage of a turnover just inside the Vees blue-line and he put his backhand deke over Barry’s glove and off both posts before bagging his eighth at 3:46.
Penticton was given a lifeline just over three-minutes later, as Merritt ran into penalty trouble. After three straight penalties were called against the Cents’, Dakota Conroy put the Vees on the scoreboard seven-minutes into the second. Conroy buried his sixth from the slot after a nice centering feed from Connor Chartier.
Merritt however, regained their two-goal lead inside the final minute of the period. Defenseman Jake Clifford put a low slap-shot underneath Barry’s glove from the right-circle at 19:05. The power-play marker coming moments after the Vees failed to capitalize on a short-handed odd-man rush.
Merritt salted the game away in the third, scoring twice more for their third win in their last six games.
Grannary scored his second of the game at 3:55 after he rifled a pass from the corner over Barry’s blocker. Cents’ Captain Sam Johnson put the finishing touches on the scoring ten-minutes later. Johnson intercepted a pass just outside the Vees zone and had his shot from the left-wing slipped past Barry at the near-post at 13:02.
Final Score: 5-1 Centennials
Shots: 34-27 Vees
Power-Plays: Vees 1-4 Centennials 2-6
Three Stars: 1) Jonah Imoo 2) Colin Grannary 3) Cole Chorney
Wednesday was the Vees first loss since November 29th, when they dropped a 4-3 decision to West Kelowna at home. Wednesday was only the second time the Vees have given up more than four goals this season and both have been to Merritt. Wednesday was also the Vees first loss to the Cents’ since September 27th.
After a day off Thursday, the Vees host the West Kelowna Warriors Friday at the SOEC, in their final home game of 2014; puck drop is 7pm. Game Sponsor Market Place IGA is giving away $100 and $50 gift cards in their annual shopping cart race.