MERRITT, BC-The Merritt Centennials have forced a winner-take-all Game Seven after a dramatic 2-1 overtime win Friday over the Penticton Vees in Game Six of their Interior Division Semi-Final.
Penticton native Tyrell Buckley was the OT hero, scoring midway through the extra frame, sending the 1,080 fans at Nicola Valley Memorial Arena into a frenzy.
Both goaltenders were terrific Friday, as Mat Robson and Jacob Berger combined to stop 97 of 100 shots. Berger stopped 47 of 48 shots in the win and Robson kicked-out 50 of 52 Merritt shots in a losing cause. Berger was named the game’s second star and Robson took home third star honours.
After a back and forth start to the game, it was the Cents’ striking first, late in the first period, courtesy of Zach Zorn. The Merritt forward came down the right-wing, stopped in the right-circle and fired a shot off Robson’s blocker and in at 17:23.
Before that Zorn goal the Vees had a couple of great chances to open the scoring. Ty Amonte couldn’t beat Berger right in front with a one-timer, after the puck bounced right back in front from behind the net. Then Chris Klack was robbed of what looked like to be a sure goal, as Berger lunged back to his right to stop Klack with his pad as he couldn’t smack in a cross-ice pass at the post.
Penticton finally tied it up midway through the second, as it was Matt Gosiewski finding himself alone in the slot. Klack made a clever play to drop the puck for Gosiewski, who walked down into the slot from the blue-line and roofed his shot over Berger’s glove at 11:45; Gosiewski first of the playoffs and his second point in the series.
That was all the scoring until overtime, as the two teams held each other off the scoresheet in the third period, the Vees outshot the Centennials 16-10.
One of the Vees best chances came early in the third as Duncan Campbell cut hard to the goa after a give and go with Nicholas Jones but his backhand down-low was stopped by Berger’s pad.
In overtime, the Vees had a couple of good looks early, none better was Grant Cruikshank flying down the right-wing but just shooting wide on the near-side.
Tyrell Buckley’s game-winner started after the Centennials quickly turned the puck up ice, with Regush cutting down the right-wing before spotting Buckley in the middle, who went upstairs on Robson at 10:23.
Final Score: 2-1 Centennials
Shots: 52-48 Merritt
Power-Plays: Vees 0-3 Merritt 0-2
Three Stars: 1) Tyrell Buckley 2) Jacob Berger 3) Mat Robson
Notes: There’s a two-day break before Game Seven, which is Monday March 27th, at 7 pm at the SOEC.