The Cranbrook Bucks were running on empty for their first visit to Merritt after a pair of hard fought wins against Trail on Friday and Saturday, but Sunday afternoon belonged to the Centennials who outlasted the visitors for a 3-2 overtime win.
The Bucks paid their first visit to Merritt this season for a Sunday matinee, the two teams had only clashed once so far the season back on November 3 resulting in an 8-0 Cranbrook win.
The first period was more of a feeling out phase, each team traded a goal but neither produced a great number of chances. AJ Vasko scored for Cranbrook at 7:57, Sam Ward replied for the Centennials on the power play at 13:26. The two clubs carried a 1-1 tie into the second period, Cranbrook outshot Merritt 8-4 in the opening frame.
The Bucks managed to claim the lead early in the second period courtesy of a Hayden Gelbard marker at 2:21, it was Gelbard’s second goal in as many games. Once again, the Bucks held Merritt to just four shots through the second period, and they held a 2-1 lead after forty minutes.
Cranbrook appeared to be well on their way to pushing their winning streak to six games, but evidently the hockey gods had other things in store for the Bucks Sunday afternoon. A Merritt power play midway through the period managed to leave its mark when Connor Farren netted his second goal of the season at 13:04 to bring the game to a 2-2 tie. The Bucks were unable to find a response through regulation, and overtime was afoot at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena with the clubs squared up at 2-2 after three periods of play.
The road team took it to Merritt in the extra frame, outshooting the Centennials 5-2 during the 3-on-3 overtime period. However, it was the Centennials who would find paydirt in this encounter. Merritt forward Ben Ward was the hero for the home team, scoring at 3:23 to lift his Centennials to a morale-boosting 3-2 overtime win over the Cranbrook Bucks.
Sunday’s loss snaps Cranbrook’s winning streak at five games, dropping their record to 15-10-2 while Merritt improves to 2-21-1. The Bucks vastly outshot Merritt at 35-18, but special teams were a difference with Merritt’s power play clicking at 2/3 while the Bucks failed to convert on three attempts with the man-advantage.
The Bucks will have a bit of time to regroup after a busy return from the holiday break which saw the team play three games in as many days. Cranbrook will return to action on home ice Friday to renew acquaintances with the Prince George Spruce Kings.
- 2 game goal streak for Hayden Gelbard.
- 2 points for AJ Vasko, first multi point game of the season.
- Tyson Dyck held of scoresheet, only five games this season without at least one point.
- 2 game point streak for new defenceman Declan Ride (2 assists).