Nelson native Cole Arcuri set up the winning goal as the Merritt Centennials came back from a 3-2 third- period deficit to defeat the Trail Smoke Eaters 4-3 on Friday.
Arcuri sent a headman pass to Michael Ederer, who stepped across the blue line and wristed a shot past Trail goalie Brett Clark to give Cents a 4-3 lead at 13:21 of the final frame. The Cents shut down the Smokies the rest of the way, outshooting them 12-3 in the period and 35-30 overall.
Trail had plenty of chances in the first period, including a shorthanded 2-on-1, but Cents goalie Jonah Imoo was spectacular between the pipes for the Cents, making 13 saves including a couple crucial stops to keep the game locked at a scoreless tie.
But Trail would find the back of the net first at the 13:56 mark when Jake Lucchini jumped on a Stephen Penner rebound and sniped it top corner to give the Smoke Eaters the 1-0 lead. The Cents would respond before the end of the first when John Schiavo sent it in deep to Fidanza behind the net, who centred for Cuglietta who made no mistake rippling the mesh and tying the game at 1-1 to send it to the first intermission.
The Cents would take the lead just 3:31 in to the second frame. Colin Grannary walked out from behind the line and straight to the net where he sniped home his 11th of the season to give Merritt the 2-1 lead. It was short lived, however, as Trail tied it back up less than a minute later when Bryan Basilico wired it in the far side to bring it back to even. Trail would then regain the lead at the 10:09 mark when Copper Leitch rippled the mesh. The Cents were unable to capitalize on a late powerplay opportunity in the second and the game would head to the third 3-2 in favour of Trail.
The power play late in the second would carry over to the third and it didn’t take long for the Cents to tie it back up. Just nine seconds into the final frame Nick Fidanza accepted the cross ice pass from Schiavo and wristed it home to tie it at 3-3 before Ederer netted the winner.
Trail continues its road trip with a game in Vernon tonight to take on the Vipers.