Sebastian Pare's empty-netter sealed a hat-trick, and a Centennials victory over a young Smokies squad in pre-season action tonight in Merritt.
The ex-Langley forward was dangerous offensively all night long, and was the difference as Merritt won for the first time in 3 tries during this exhibition campaign.
A scoreless first period featured some early fireworks. Cents forward Silvan Harper took offense to a check from behind on a teammate from Smokies defenseman Djordje Leposavic, dropping the mitts in a short bout that actually put Trail on a five-minute man-advantage.
Later in the period, rookie forward Anthony Conti went toe to toe with 20 year-old Sean Maktaak. Both sides landed bombs in a fight that had the Merritt crowd at a fever pitch.
The Centennials opened the scoring midway through the second after 16 year-old Rhett Willcox banged home a loose puck after a hectic scramble in front of the Trail net. Merritt struck again 27 seconds later as Pare wrapped around for his first tally of the game.
Shane Poulsen brought Trail back to within one before the end of period two, floating a wrister into the top corner through traffic.
An early one-timer from Pare on a Merritt power-play was cancelled out on a nifty deflection from Trail's Adam Wheeldon as the sides exchanged man-advantage goals early in the third. Pare's empty-net marker closed the scoring with 2.7 seconds left on the clock.
The mood is good as we rumble eastward on the bus, though. Trail had only 4 veterans dressed tonight and played much of the game with only five defensemen. Local Jake Lucchini was one of, if not Trail's best skater tonight. He earned an assist as well as it was his sharp wrister that was tipped home by Wheeldon in the third.
New goaltender Braden Krogfoss looked good as well, stopping all but two pucks he faced over half a game. The 17 year-old sees the puck well in traffic and will get better with each appearance. No doubt the consistent hard work put in by starter Lyndon Stanwood (who again was very strong this evening) will serve as mentorship too.
My 3 Stars:
1. Sebastian Pare, Merritt
2. Jake Lucchini, Trail
3. Rhett Willcox, Merritt
Up Next: The team will arrive home late tonight and get right back to work tomorrow with another date with the Cents. Tomorrow's pre-season finale starts at 7:30 at Cominco Arena and will be your first chance (and last for 20 days) to see the Smokies in action on home ice.
Trail: Stanwood, Krogfoss, Jenerou, Poulsen,
Leposavic, Clayton, McKinnon, Bruyckere, Baltus, Wheeldon, McGaughey, D. Holland, Flockhart, Davidson, Foyle, A. Holland, Lucchini, Jmaeff, Conti, Heinrich.
Merritt: T. Steel, Logan-Hill, Coish, Lisowsky, Martin, J. Steel, Harper, Huisman, Fletcher, Klinger, Soquila, Bruce, Maktaak, Huber, Pare, Cuglietta, Saunders, Willcox, Klimek, Patterson.
Penalties: Pare MER (interference) 1:38; D. Holland TRA (roughing) 8:27; Leposavic TRA (checking from behind, game misconduct), Harper MER (instigating, fighting, game misconduct) 10:16; Conti TRA (hooking) 13:32; Conti TRA (boarding, fighting, game misconduct), Maktaak MER (instigating, fighting, game misconduct) 15:51; J. Steel MER (high-sticking) 16:58.
1. MER Willcox (Huisman, Pare) 10:46
2. MER Pare (Bruce) 11:13
3. TRA Poulsen (Flockhart, Foyle) 15:49
Penalties: McKinnon TRA (high-sticking) 2:53; TRA bench (too many men, served by D. Holland) 5:52.
4. MER Pare (Soquila, Huisman) 1:57 (pp)
5. TRA Wheeldon (Lucchini) 5:52 (pp)
6. MER Pare (unassisted) 19:57 (en)
Penalties: Heinrich TRA (double high-sticking), Coish MER (roughing) 0:28; D. Holland TRA (???) 2:59; Klinger MER (hooking) 5:45.
Goal: Trail: Stanwood, Krogfoss (10:46 second); Merritt: T. Steel, Logan-Hill (10:46 second).
Power Play: Trail: 1/4; Merritt: 1/6.
Referees: Brandon Liefke, Brent Hazel