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Bucks comeback bid falls short in Merritt

A close call for the Cranbrook Bucks in Friday’s 5-4 loss to the Merritt Centennials.

Both goalies were put through the ringer during the first period, as the Cents outshot the Bucks 19-16. Bucks goalie Jaxon Loewen, a Kootenay Hockey Academy callup who was making his BCHL debut, turned aside 18 of 19 shots. His lone blemish came from Merritt’s Jaxson Murray at 13:28, leaving the Centennials with a 1-0 lead at intermission.

A quick start to the second period pulled the Bucks into a 1-1 tie. Captain Donovan Frias netted a short-handed goal at 1:24 to put the game at a deadlock. The Centennials took over the middle frame from there with goals from Dylan Wegner, Nathan Taylor and Easton Ryan to secure a 4-1 lead at the second buzzer.

Merritt made it a 5-1 game with a power play goal from Murray at 7:04, seemingly putting the game out of reach – but the Bucks still had plenty left in their tank. A response from Loke Sodergren at 7:39 made the score 5-2, and gave Cranbrook a fighting chance. Bucks newcomer, and former Centennial, Tyler Wishart scored at 13:07 to put the Bucks within two goals at 5-3. With time winding down, Donovan Frias tallied at 18:23 to make it a 5-4 game, prompting a late push from the road team. However, the Centennials were able to fend off the Bucks for the last minute and a half, and secured a 5-4 win.

Friday’s loss drops Cranbrook’s record to 14-19-2, the Bucks outshot Merritt 38-37. On special teams, the Bucks went 0/2 on the power play, and their penalty kill finished 3/4.

The Bucks finish their road trip Saturday night versus the Penticton Vees.

Buck Tracks

  • Jaxon Loewen stops 32 of 37 shots in BCHL debut.
  • 3 points for Donovan Frias (2g,1a)
  • Cranbrook Bucks debut for Tyler Wishart & Patrick Murphy