The Cranbrook Bucks picked up a point on Sunday, but the franchise-best win streak is over at five games.
The Bucks went into Merritt looking for their fourth straight win on the road and sixth overall, but came up just short.
It was a bit of a tentative start for both teams, as Cranbrook was wrapping up three games in as many days, and the Centennials were playing just their second game under a new head coach.
The Bucks got the scoring started 7:54 into the first period, as AJ Vasko put one in from the side of the net. Brendan Rogers and Carsyn Good drew the assists on Vasko’s third of the season.
Merritt would get that one back at 13:26 on an unassisted powerplay goal by Sam Ward to tie the game up 1-1.
The Bucks were the better team in the opening period, but not by enough of a margin to take a lead into the first intermission.
Cranbrook really started to pull away in the second, and got it going early with a goal just 2:21 into the middle frame.
For the second straight game, Hayden Gelbard scored a goal with the primary assist going to new defenseman Declan Ride.
Vasko picked up the second assist on the goal, his second point of the night, and it was 2-1 Bucks.
Despite a convincing edge in play and a shots advantage of 12-4 in the second stanza, that was the only goal they could manage, taking just a 2-1 lead into the third period.
The Bucks came out hard in the final frame looking to extend their lead, but the Centennials seemed to have just a little more jump.
The game took a good pace with both teams getting chances, but Cranbrook started to run out of gas playing their third game in three days.
Merritt would take advantage of a tired Bucks squad and cash in its second PP goal of night at 13:04 of the third period to even the score at 2-2.
Cranbrook did find a little juice after giving up the tying goal and made a push for a go-ahead marker, but they couldn’t get it.
The Bucks outshot Merritt 10-8 in the third, but 60 minutes was not enough, and the game went to overtime.
Cranbrook got off to a good start in OT, getting a couple early chances, but were again unable to find the winner.
Ultimately, it was the Centennials who scored the sudden death winner, as Ben Ward found the back of the net at 3:23 of the extra frame.
Merritt’s second win of the season was enough to snap Cranbrook’s five-game winning streak, and hand the Bucks their first loss in their last four road games.
The two teams have now split the first two games of their season series, with three more to come:
- Nov. 3: vs Merritt (8-0 W)
- Jan. 2: @ Merritt (3-2 OTL)
- Feb. 18: @ Merritt (8pm)
- Mar. 10: vs Merritt (7pm)
- Mar. 11: vs Merritt (7pm)
The game recap from the Bucks website came be found here, and the official game boxscore can be found here.
Cranbrook returns home for a pair of games next weekend against the Prince George Spruce Kings on Friday and Saturday.