The West Kelowna Warriors surrendered four third period goals en route to a 6-2 loss against the Merritt Centennials at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena on Friday night.
The Warriors opened the scoring for the third straight game and it was the second straight game for Connor Sodergren to do the honours. The Warrior forward found a loose puck in the slot and beat Centennials netminder Jacob Berger to the glove side for his team leading 23rd goal of the season to put the Warriors ahead by a 1-0 score at the 3:58 mark of the 1st period.
Merritt had answer at the 14:45 mark of the opening period as Tyler Ward beat the Warriors defense to the outside and fired a perfect wrist shot past the glove side of the Warriors goaltender Cole Demers for his 12th goal of the season and a 1-1 tie as that would be the score after 20 minutes. Demers made a total of 10 saves on 11 Merritt shots while Berger stopped 11 of the 12 shots fired his way for the Centennials.
West Kelowna took their second lead of the game at the 3:49 mark of the 2nd period as a left point shot from Jake Harrison was deflected in from the face-off circle by Jon Russell for his 5th goal of the season and a 2-1 Warriors advantage early in period number two.
The Centennials, as they did in the first period, responded in the middle stanza and it came courtesy of their top ranked power play. Tyler Ward’s left circle shot was deflected in by Merritt captain Brett Jewell for his 10th goal of the season and a 2-2 tie, which would be how things would stay after 40 minutes. Cole Demers sat at 25 saves on 27 shots through two periods of play while Jacob Berger was on the right side of 18 of the 20 shots he faced in the frame.
The 3rd period was all Centennials as Merritt scored four times in the final period of play that started with Zach Risteau finding the back of the net on a backdoor pass from Zach Metsa to give the Cents their first lead of the game at 3-2 at the 5:22 mark of the 3rd period.
Rylan Van Unen added to the Merritt lead, finishing off a 2-on-1 play with Risteau and beating Demers to the glove side for a 4-2 advantage for Merritt at the 11:42 mark of period number three.
Merritt scored two more goals later in the frame, one by Nick Fidanza into an empty net at the 18:31 mark to give the Centennials a 5-2 lead before Nicholas Wicks tallied on a centering feed from Rylan Van Unen with just eight seconds to play to make the final score 6-2 in favour of Merritt as they scored five unanswered goals in the victory.
Cole Demers turned aside 33 of the 38 shots he faced in the game for his 13th defeat of the season while Jacob Berger stopped 28 of the 30 shots thrown his way for his 13th victory of the year.
FINAL SCORE: 6-2 Centennials
SHOTS ON GOAL: 39-30 Centennials
PP: Warriors (0/2) Centennials (1/4)
1) Tyler Ward (1-1-2)
2) Zach Risteau (1-1-2)
3) Nicholas Wicks (1-0-1)
The Warriors (23-23-0-2) return to Royal LePage Place for the first time in six games as they host the Coquitlam Express (10-40-2-1) for the third time in their regular season series. Puck drop is slated for 7:00 PM