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Saturday, November 04, 2017

UPDATED WITH VIDEO Bulldogs and Centennials play to thrilling 3-3 tie

The Bulldogs got off to a fantastic start on the opening shift, and kept it up through the early stages of the game, running up a 7-0 shots on goal advantage six minutes in as Austin Roden was good, and busy in the Merritt net. The Dogs continued to play a fast paced game through the media timeout past the midway point of the period, up 10-1 in shots and carrying the play. The theme continued as the period went on, with Roden keeping the Centennials in it. The Cents pushed back in the last five minutes of the frame as the pace slowed considerably with the period ending 0-0, and the Bulldogs out shooting the Centennials 17-4.

The second period saw the Centennials immediately make the first period a memory, as just 1:06 in it was 1-0 when they connected four seconds into a power play chance off a broken play from the faceoff in the Dogs end that saw Rylan Van Unen chase down a loose puck off the ride side of the slot and put it off the blocker of Lancaster and inside the far post. Assists on the play went to Bradley Cocca and Austin Stockie at 1:06 of the second. The Centennials played a much better period, hemming the Dogs in their zone for extended periods. The Bulldogs pushed back with several good opportunities to tie the game, the most notably being a beautiful save by Austin Roden on Bradley Ong on a beautiful set up by Cole Poliziani. The score stayed 1-0 until the late stages of the period as Ong took back to back hits to the head - or close, on the same shift, and finally had enough and went after Tyrell Buckley after the second one. He would pick up the additional minor penalty in the skirmish, and the Centennial took a 2-0 lead on the power play on a pretty down low set up to the right side of the net back to the slot where Nicholas Wicks one-timed it inside the far post. Assists on the play went to Zach Court and Christian Sabin at 17:17 of the second. The Bulldogs earned a power play two minutes later to try and cut the deficit, but instead it was 3-0 when the Centennials scored while shorthanded as Zach Zorn found a loose puck off his own clearing attempt that went off a Bulldog defender twice and out of the zone where he chased it down for a breakaway that he finished with a perfect top corner finish past the blocker of Lancaster at 19:21 of the second. Generous assists were given to Ashton Stockie and Joey Berkopec.  Shots in the period were 11-8 Merritt for a 25-15 advantage for the Bulldogs after two periods.

The Bulldogs connected on a carry-over power play to start the third to make it 3-1 as Connor Welsh took a quick D-to-D pass across the line at the left point from Mitch Oliver. He would walk into the top of the left circle and blow a slapper off a Centennial stick and top corner over the blocker shoulder of Roden at 28 seconds of the third, with Keaton Mastrodonato also assisting on the play. It was a 3-2 game and a whole new game just two and a half minutes later as the Centennials played the puck into their own end from the Dogs zone, went back to get it, and then threw it right up the middle where it was cut down by Paul Selleck who walked into the hash marks and ripped a gorgeous shot top corner over the blocker of Roden to make it 3-2 at 3:02 of the third. The score held that way until the late stages of the game, with Colten Lancaster coming up with a huge save to keep the Dogs within striking distance with 12:45 to play as he snared a cross-ice pass with his glove on what looked like an open net on an odd-man rush. The Bulldogs would get the equalizer with just over two minutes to play as Ryan Steele picked up the puck in the left corner of the Bulldogs zone and went end to end down the right wing with blazing speed to blow past all the defenders and cut in front where he put it off Roden, off a Centennial defenceman and in through the legs of Roden to make it 3-3. The goal was initially credited to Keaton Mastrodonato, but was later changed as replays showed it was Steele's goal, as the game went to overtime. Third period shots were 11-11, for a 60 minute total of 36-26 Bulldogs.

The first overtime saw plenty of action, but neither team was able to generate a shot on net. In 3 on 3 double overtime both teams had their chances, with Lancaster and Roden standing tall as neither of them conceded the winner as the game ended in a draw, with the Dogs earning a power play in the final minute but being unable to get the winner, with the Centennials off the opening draw creating a 2 on 1 rush that saw Mitch Oliver make a fantastic play to break it up and deflect the pass off the outside of the base of net.

Double overtime shots were 5-4 Merritt, for a game total of 40-31 Bulldogs. Colten Lancaster and Austin Roden - who picked up 3rd star honours, were the goalies of record. The Dogs went 1 for 4 on the power play while the Centennials went 2 for 4.

With the tie, the Bulldogs are unbeaten in two. They are next in action Friday when they host the Victoria Grizzlies.



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