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Merritt Comes Back to Beat Express in OT

by Eddie Gregory  I

Nick Wicks tied the game in the final minute, then won it in overtime in Merritt’s 5-4 overtime win over the Express Wednesday night. Click here for boxscore

The Merritt captain started the game by taking the games opening faceoff against his younger brother Garrett who dressed for the Express for a second straight game as an AP.

Danny Pearson returned to the Express lineup after being on the receiving end of a big hit from Powell River’s Ryan Pouliot in the final game before the Christmas break. Pearson picked up right where he left off chipping in offensively, 5:35 into the game he went hard to the net and tipped home a perfect pass from Christian Sanda to open the scoring.

The lead was extended to 2-0 just over 6 minutes later when Chase Danol’s shot from the left wing eluded Austin Roden for Danol’s Express leading 21st of the season.

39 seconds later the Centennials cut the lead to 2-1 on a powerplay goal from Payton Matsui chipping home a loose puck in the Express crease.

Rylan Van Unen erased Merritt’s two goal deficit for the first time putting home a rebound that was put right on his tape from Kolby Matthews following a shot from Talon Zakall.

Christian Sanda was really effective using his speed to be a difference maker for the Express Wednesday. He put the Express back in the lead with a pass from the right wing that went off a Centennials defender and in for Sanda’s 16th of the season.

Alex DiPaolo was on the receiving end of a hit from Matthieu Gosselin that didn’t sit well with the Express. Regan Kimens among others quickly got into the face of Gosselin, but they showed good restrain to not take their team off the on-coming powerplay.

DiPaolo got his revenge personally late in the advantage burying the rebound of Jordan Schulting point shot giving the Express a 4-2 lead heading to the 3rd period.

The lead was looking pretty safe as the final minutes of the third period stared to emerge on the horizon. Kolby Matthews appeared to be pretty dialled in in the Express crease.

Then a 3 on 2 resulted in a third chance opportunity ending up on the stick of Daniel Tkac who buried the rebound with 3:50 to play.

In the final minute with Austin Roden on the bench, his replacement Nick Wicks set up shop in front of the Express net and tipped home a Jayden Fetter shot to tie the game at 4 with 37 seconds left to play.

The Express argued the goal was contacted with a high stick. And the referee originally waved off the goal. Then upon further discussion the call was overturned and the goal was allowed to stand sending the game to overtime.

Chase Danol had the best chance for the Express in overtime cutting into the slot firing a wrist shot that was denied by Roden.

Merritt showed good patience in overtime being very reluctant to give up the puck during the 3 on 3. That patience paid off on the game winning goal. Nick Wicks had the puck in the Express zone and retreated back into the neutral zone then went back on the attack from the right wing and ripped a shot over the shoulder of Kolby Matthews to give the Centennials the 5-4 overtime win. For the Centennials it was their third consecutive overtime win.

The 6 game home stand for the Express continues Friday when the Express host the Chilliwack Chiefs.