Merritt Centennials
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The BCHL announced their Player of the Week today, and once again a Centennials player was among the honorable mentions.

Captain Nick Wicks is starting to heat up offensively after a week that saw the Cents go 1-2, but Wicks pick up points in all three contests including a natural hat trick. He picked up where he left off by setting up two Cents goals against West Kelowna on Friday in a 5-4 victory, and then scoring a goal, adding an assist, and being named 1st star for his efforts against the Nanaimo Clippers in a 5-1 win on Saturday.

The Delta, BC native has moved into the top 20 in BCHL scoring with 9 goals and 27 assists, and joins 3 other Centennials team mates. Committed to play hockey next year for the University of Alaska Anchorage, Wicks has helped the Centennials move back into a tie for top spot in the Interior Division.

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The Teddy Bear's were tossed early, and the Cents didn't look back as they continued the Clippers woes with a 5-1 victory at the NVMA. 

The teams traded chances in the first before a goal mouth scramble saw the puck come to Christian Sabin who unleashed the teddy rain with a shot past Landon Pavlisin to make it 1-0. Once the ice was cleaned up, the Cents continued to push the pace. Joey Berkopec unleashed a shot from the right point that went top corner over the glove shoulder, blasting the water bottle off the netting to make it 2-0. The teams would trade a couple powerplay chances each in the first, but nothing would come of the man advantage. Austin Roden wasn't very busy in the first stopping all 5 shots he faced. 

Once again the second frame proved to be the Centennials weakest, but with that said they didn't surrender a goal. The team did lose momentum after a series penalties for and against, much like last night and once again they couldn't get all hands on deck. A turning point of the period came with the Cents at the end of a long shift, stuck with the energy line on, iced the puck. However, a keen move from Assistant Coach Brandon Shaw to call for the BCHL media timeout gave the guys some rest, and after winning the ensuing draw, they got a quick change, and Brad Cocca came on with fresh legs and lit the lamp on a stuff play from below the goal line. A solid performance from Austin Roden kept the Clippers at bay, and the Cents took a 3-0 lead into the third period. 

In the third, the Cents continued to push the pace, as the Clippers seemed content to back off to neutral ice. Matt Kopperud scored his 15th goal of the season after a turnover at the line, poking it into the slot, and taking a shot down low that fooled Pavlisin. The Clippers would then parade to the penalty box, and at first it paid off for them. Kovich scored on a shorthanded break away, but it would be the lone blemish against Roden. However, the Cents would finally connect with a 5-on-3 and Captain Nick Wicks would do the honors sniping one top shelf blocker side. Final shots were 34-23 in favour of the Cents as they took the game 5-1. 

After the game Assistant Coach Brandon Shaw said there were a few things to clean up in a strong game. 

"In a game like this you can nit-pick, but there's still some cleaner puck movement we could have out there. Overall though this was a great effort."

Energy Player of the Game - Brendan Schneider 1A

3rd Star - Brad Cocca 1G 1A

2nd Star - Austin Roden 22/23 

1st Star - Nick Wicks 1G 2A

With the win the Cents pull into a tie with the Wenatchee Wild at the top of the Interior Division. Next game day is Friday against the West Kelowna Warriors. 

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The Merritt Centennials (20-11-1-1) welcome the Nanaimo Clippers (12-17) to the NVMA tonight.

The Cents are coming off a gutsy win in West Kelowna where they got off to a great start, had a difficult second period, but then came back with a vengeance in the third to win it. Matt Kopperud supplied the early offense, tipping in a shot from Mattias Dal Monte in front just 2 minutes into the game. After the game was tied on a Warriors powerplay, Kopperud would answer with the Cents up a man, but Jackson Munro did all the leg work, dangling in from the point, and putting the puck on a platter for Kopperud with an open net. Vincent Guy would expand the lead under a minute later after he was set up by Daniel Tkac from the corner. The Cents third goal would chase starter Brock Baier in favour of Connor Hopkins, but Chase Dubois would get the Warriors back within striking distance before the period was over at 3-2. The Cents would get into penalty trouble (both up and down a man) and couldn't get into a rhythm, and the Warriors stormed back to get a 4-3 lead heading into the third. However, in the third, it would be all Centennials as they outshot the Warriors 17-3, and got goals from Brendan Schneider to tie it, and rookie Brett Roloson to win it. Austin Roden picked up the win, and the Cents righted the ship on the road where they had lost 3 in a row.

The Cents return home looking to keep some of the momentum from the third period, and the last couple weekends alive. Overall, the Cents are the 3rd best team in the league at home with a record of 13-4, where they've outscored opponents 80-56. They'll look to give the Nanaimo Clippers the same treatment in their lone visit to the NVMA this season. Last year the Cents and Clippers split the season series, with both teams winning at home. The Cents won 4-2 on home ice, but lost to the Clippers 3-1 when they visited Nanaimo.

The Clippers are mired in a 4 game slump themselves. Their last win came against the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Nov. 20 5-4. Since then they've fallen 4-2 to Victoria, 7-5 to West K, 3-0 to Coquitlam, and 5-3 to Prince George last night. However, before this losing streak, the Clippers were on a 5 game winning streak, so they are capable of playing solid hockey. For an Island team with a lot of turnover it will be a trial by fire in the NVMA. The only teams to win in the NVMA this year are Interior Division teams: Penticton, Wenatchee, and Vernon so the deck is stacked against the Clippers tonight.

The Cents got a balanced scoring attack last night, but are still lead by the same stalwarts up front. Brad Cocca was held off the scoresheet last night as was Nick Granowicz so they remain at 43 and 38 points respectively. Captain Nick Wicks is starting to turn it on and is the next leading scorer in the absence of Mathieu Gosselin with 33 points.

The Clippers are scoring by committee and are led by Ethan Scardina with 28 points, Joshua Borne has 19, and rookie Aiden Hansen Bukata has 18 points.

The special teams battle favours the Clippers on the powerplay, but the Centennials on the penalty kill:

Powerplay:                                      Penalty Kill:

Nan- 20.6% (4th)                            Nan - 75.6% (17th)

Cents - 16.4% (16th)                      Cents - 76.3% (15th)

In net, Austin Roden is coming off a win and is now 13-6 with a .899 SV%, a 3.34 GAA and 1 shutout. Vincent Duplessis is 7-4-2 with a .906 SV% and a 3.21 GAA. The Clippers have two options. Jordan Naylor is 8-11 with a .898 SV% and a 3.35 GAA. Landon Paylisin is 4-6 with a .887 SV% and a 3.99 GAA.

Assistant Coach Brandon Shaw says the Cents need to focus on the attitude they had in the third period against West Kelowna.

"I think if we channel that energy that we had in the third period and we should be fine against the Clippers tonight."

A reminder that it is Teddy Bear Toss tonight, so bring a teddy to the rink and be ready to toss after the first CENTS goal! All proceeds go to the local Nicola Valley and District Food Bank. SANTA will be in the building, and Save On Foods is giving you a chance to win your holiday turkey early in a Turkey Bonspiel in the 1st Intermission.

Puck Drop 7pm. Pre-Game 6:45 on Q101.1FM and q101.ca with Jared Thomas.

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The Merritt Centennials continued their perfect output against the West Kelowna Warriors, but this time in the Warriors barn, by a score of 5-4.

It started off early for the Cents who converted just under two minutes into the game. Matt Kopperud deflected a Mattias Dal Monte point shot past Brock Baier to make it 1-0. The Warriors would tie things up on their first powerplay of the game with a shot off a set play from the draw to level the game 1-1. The Cents would respond on a powerplay goal of their own when Jackson Munro walked in from the left point, and dangled in and juked Baier out of his jock strap, then found Kopperud to the side of the net who blasted it into the empty cage. The energy line would convert just moments later with Daniel Tkac streaking down the right wing and finding Guy out front to make it 3-1. That would chase Baier from the net, and in would come Connor Hopkins. Chase Dubois would answer for the Warriors to make it 3-2 after 1.

The second period posed some problems for the Merritt Centennials as a carousel to the penalty box on both sides meant that the Cents couldn’t get into a rhythm. The Cents would suffer as a result and surrender two goals to make it a 4-3 lead for the Warriors after 2 periods of play.

The Cents came out a different team in the third, and it started to pay dividends. Playing cleaner it was all hands on deck, and Brendan Schneider would tie the game 6 minutes into the third when he drove the net, fired a shot, and picked up his own rebound to score his 11th of the year, and tie the game at 4’s. With the game on the line late, it was rookie Brett Roloson who sniped one low, just inside the far post, to give the Cents the lead late. The Cents and Austin Roden would hang on for the win in the final minutes.

After the game, Assistant Coach Brandon Shaw said it was a character win for the club.

“All credit to the team for this one. They calmed themselves down after the second, came out with a renewed effort in the third and this one belongs to them.”

The team will try and replicate that effort tomorrow night when the Nanaimo Clippers come to town for Teddy Bear Toss night.

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The Merritt Centennials (19-11-1-1) will hope to right their road woes on the short journey to play the West Kelowna Warriors (18-13-0-1) tonight.

The Cents are coming off a week where they went 1-2 with games against the Prince George Spruce Kings, the Vernon Vipers, and the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. Against the Spruce Kings the Cents couldn't seem to find any jump out of the gate, and by the time their heads were in the game they trailed too far on the scoreline. Prince George pounced in the first and scored all 3 of their goals there, and the league's best defense kept the Cents off the board until the third where they'd only manage one to make it a 3-1 final. The Cents seemed to learn their lesson and pushed the pace in Vernon against the Vipers, but fell victim to some goals against the flow of play and fell 3-2. They busted their mini two game slide by topping the Salmon Arm Silverbacks for the 5th time this season. After a dreadful first that saw them trail 2-0 to the 'Backs, the Cents came out a different team in the second and on the back of Captain Nick Wicks' natural hat trick the Cents scored 5 unanswered to win 5-2.

The Warriors are coming off there first trip to the Island, and it yielded positive results. They outlasted the Nanaimo Clippers in an offensive thriller 7-5, were bested by the Cowichan Valley Capitals 4-1, but then came back with a great effort against the Victoria Grizzlies 6-1.

The Cents lead the season series against the Warriors 2-0, but both games have been played at home and offense has yet to be an issue. In game one of the season, the Cents came back from a 3-1 deficit to win by a score of 8-4. In game 2, the Cents were in the drivers seat from the outset and put the boots to the Warriors 8-3. Watch for big games from Brad Cocca who has a combined 7 points over those two games, and Brendan Schneider who seems to light it up whenever the teams clash with 2 goals and 3 assists.

Brad Cocca returns from Team Canada West tryouts, and will have a fire under him to prove that the team picked wrong. He's in a 3-way tie for 2nd in league scoring with 43 points. Nick Granowicz has been stuck in idle during the last few games and has slid to 9th in BCHL scoring with 38 points. Mathieu Gosselin will be unavailable as he has made the Team Canada West roster, and Captain Wicks will be looking to add to his goal totals coming off a natural hat trick that has him up to 31 points on the year.

The Warriors are led by Willie Reim who's 7th in BCHL scoring with 40 points, Mike Hardman is 13th with 36 points, and Chase Dubois rounds out the top three with 31 points.

The special teams battle see the Warriors with the edge.

Powerplay:                                                       Penalty Kill:

WK- 19.4% (7th)                                              WK - 79.7% (12th)

Cents - 16.5% (15th)                                       Cents - 76.5% (14th)

In net the Cents have been alternating starts between their two capable goalies. Vincent Duplessis is coming off a win and is now 7-5-2 with a .906 SV% and a 3.21 GAA. Austin Roden is 12-6 with a .901 SV%, a 3.30 GAA, and 1 shutout. The Warriors have given Brock Baier more starts since joining the club, he's 10-3 with a .910 SV% and a 3.45 GAA. Rookie Connor Hopkins is 8-9 with a .903 SV%, a 3.46 GAA, and 1 shutout.

Head Coach Joe Martin says he knows he's leaving the team in good hands.

"I know Brandon will step in and do a good job, and he'll be getting some help from Zach Wright who runs the Midget program in town. I trust they'll be fine while I'm gone."

Puck drop 7pm from Royal LePage Place. Pre-Game 6:45 on Hockey TV and Q101.ca with Jared Thomas.

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