For two teams who see each other only twice every regular season, the Powell River Kings and Merritt Centennials played like old rivals, continuing on from their emotionally charged and penalty filled encounter in December with another similar game at Hap Parker Arena on Friday night…one the Kings lost 5-3.
The tone of the game was set early with several behind the play encounters paired with a fast paced start to the game. Merritt went down 5-on-3 early in the game with the Kings able to seize control as Ryan Brushett failed to find the back of the net on two chances, but making good on his third by beating Austin Roden for his 36th of the season and a 1-0 lead. Merritt would get the goal back late in the frame as Vincent Guy spun and fired to goal, with Mitch Adamyk appearing partially screened on the 1-1 shot.
To another powerplay and the Kings converted once more to go 2/3 in the first period. Ethan Schmunk, moments after missing a great chance on a half open net, was able to redirect in a Ben Thomas shot from distance for his 10th of the season and a 2-1 Kings advantage after 20. Shots 14-12 Powell River.
Penalties dominated the 2nd period with Ethan Kimball making consecutive trips to the penalty box, followed by Christian Buono receiving a 2+10 for a blow to the head and capped by Jack Long being ejected from the game through a five minute check from behind penalty. Total penalties in the frame were 8-2 Powell River and the Centennials took advantage, scoring the lone goal on a 5-on-3 powerplay early in the period and it was 2-2 at the 2nd break. Shots 11-10 Merritt in the 2nd period.
Merritt got off to a great start in the third, with Christian Sabin scoring at the side of the net shortly after a hit along the boards from Ryan Pouliot. Sabin’s goal led to Kings head coach Tyler Kuntz being ejected from the game, leaving assistant Brock Sawyer to manage the bench by himself in the absence of suspended assistant coach Kyle Bodie. With the Kings shorthanded once more, Josh Coblenz went on the attack by benefiting from a great forecheck and harassment of the puck from Levi Glasman, setting up Coblenz to run onto a loose puck and beat Roden for his 18th of the year and a 3-3 game.
The tie game lasted 25 seconds as the Cents scored on the same powerplay through Brad Cocca, the eventual game winner made it 4-3 as the Cents added another into the empty net for a 5-3 win. Mitch Adamyk took the loss, falling to 23-14 on the year, stopping 27/31 Merritt shots.
Here’s what Brock Sawyer had to say in the post game show. Due to a technical error at the Hap, we were unable to broadcast on Facebook Live.
The Kings continue a 4-game home stand Saturday night, hosting the West Kelowna Warriors at the Hap Parker Arena. Puck drop is at 7:00pm.