In a valiant effort from both sides, the Trail Smoke Eaters got by the Merritt Centennials 4-2 on Saturday night in Merritt’s final home game of the exhibition schedule.
In dropping to 3-1 in pre-season play, the Centennials sat out four regulars in exchange for that amount of players competing for the final spots on the roster, while the Smoke Eaters also dressed unsigned prospects that could potentially suit up for their team in the future.
Trail opened the scoring just 15 seconds in to the game, when Dallas Calvin struck with a quick shot that beat Jonah Imoo, with assists to his linemates Craig Martin and Keinan Scott.
The Centennials would strike late in the first period as John Schiavo made the most of his room and slipped out from behind the net with a quick shot that beat starter Adam Todd.
Just over 7 minutes in to the middle frame, Charlie Zuccarini made nice work of an opportunity to beat Imoo as the Centennials trailed 2-1 but led in shots 17-11.
Trail would head to the break with the lead, and to start the third period would also have a new goaltender as Brock Lefebvre would take over, relieving Adam Todd and his 16 saves on the night.
Craig Martin picked up his 2nd point of the night when Sheldon Hubbard set him up for a strong individual effort to make it 3-1 Trail.
Lefebvre would surrender just one goal, as Michael Ederer picked up a pass in the low circle on the powerplay, beating a sprawling and desperate Trail defense, roofing the puck to cut the lead to one.
Late in the game, a quick low shot from Jake Lucchini would beat Imoo between the legs to make it 4-2, ultimately sealing the deal for the Smoke Eaters.
Despite a late game empty net, the Centennials could not slip another one by and will move forward to tomorrow’s roster decisions with a fresh mindset.
Jonah Imoo finished the game with 30 saves, including a stellar dive across save which was comparable to the goal in which Ederer scored later in the game.
The Centennials will close the exhibition schedule next Saturday night at South Okanagan Events Centre, taking on the Penticton Vees at 5:30.
The BCHL Bauer Showcase begins Saturday, September 20th as the Centennials open the season that morning against Cowichan Valley, with the first home game fast forwarded to September 27th when the Penticton Vees are in town.