The Merritt Centennials ended September on a high note, and look to continue that momentum into October as the Spruce Kings come to town.
The Cents will face a team that's already gotten the better of them once this season. The Spruce Kings were able to come back and top the Cents at the BCHL Showcase just a week ago. The Centennials learnt some lessons over that showcase, and started to get some chemistry going that has paid off in this homestand where they're starting to find the offensive side of their game. It's paid off on this homestand as Colten Gerlib, Alex Bourhas, Matthieu Gosselin, and Ashton Stockie have all gotten their first goals of the season and now know what it takes to score in the BCHL.
The 2-1 win over the Surrey Eagles on Wednesday saw the Centennials finally get a goal on the powerplay, and they carried that into yesterday's game against the Cowichan Valley Capitals where they went 4/11 on the powerplay. The team finally seems like they have a set plan on the powerplay, and even on powerplay attemptswhere they didn't score the Cents had good puck possession and good puck retrieval.
The Prince George Spruce Kings still remain first in the Mainland Division with 11 points and a 5-2-0-1 record, but since playing the Centennials at the Showcase they were shut out by the Victoria Grizzlies 5-0, they lost to the Surrey Eagles 4-1 on Friday night, and beat the lowly Coquitlam Express last night 5-3. The Spruce Kings are back to their winning ways coming into the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena, but since the last time these two teams met the Spruce Kings have come down to earth a little bit.
After the offensive output, and strong defensive play throughout the season, the Centennials are working back towards an even goals for and goals against differential. Defensively, the teams are similar, with the Spruce Kings only allowing one less goal this season.
The Cents are also buoyed by the play of Jake Berger. He came into action in relief for Vincent Duplessis during the game against the Surrey Eagles, and didn't allow a goal, and only allowed a single goal last night to improve his numbers yet again. His save percentage is now above 90% and his goals against average is just over 3. He will need to continue to be solid as the Spruce KIngs present the stiffest test so far on this homestand.
Looking ahead to the matchup this afternoon, Head Coach Joe Martin says that Prince George does a number of things well.
"They're big up front, they can move pucks well from the back end, and they can attack off the rush, so if we're not good positionally,and we're not putting pucks in the offensive zone we will be on our heels."
Puck drop is at 2pm this afternoon, with Jared Thomas and the Pre Game starting at 6:45. Listen live at 101.1 FM, stream us online at q101.ca, or download the Q101 Merritt app on your mobile device.