Merritt Centennials
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The Centennials return home hoping to shake the blues that have followed them after the Christmas break. A delayed game loss here at home last Friday to the Coquitlam Express, followed by two more on the road to the Express and Vipers, have the Cents looking for answers and they'll hope to find them tonight against the streaking Salmon Arm Silverbacks. 

The 'Backs come into this one winners of their last 2 in a row, and those wins come over some pretty good competition the Vernon Vipers 4-3, and last night they topped the Wenatchee Wild 3-0. Those teams 1 and 2 respectively in the Interior Division. The Cents and Silverbacks 6 & 7 respectively in the division, but Salmon Arm now just two points back of the Cents and you know they'd like to retake 6th place, and get out of the basement of the Interior. 

The last game between these two clubs was back on December 9th at the NVMA, and the Cents absolutely peppered Kyle Dumba in the first period with 25 shots. That's more than the Cents record in a number of their games, but Kyle Dumba who got the start kept it scoreless through one. In the second, Henry Cleghorn scored 2, and in the third he'd add another for the Cents lone hat trick of the year. Zach Zorn would add one as well, and Rhett Kingston had the only answer for the Silverbacks as Merritt won 4-1. 

Rhett Kingston remains the go to guy on the Silverbacks with 34 points, but the Silverbacks will have some new faces since the last time these two teams met. The 'Backs have completely renovated their goaltending situation from the beginning of the year, gone are the likes of Nic Tallarico and Bo Didur, and in come Kyle Dumba, and Reid Cooper more recently from the Coquitlam Express. They've also added some size to the blueline with Joseph Leahy from the Penticton Vees, and got Brandon Whistle from the Vernon Vipers. The moves have sparked the club, and they have rung off two straight since acquiring those players. 

The Cents have a couple feelers out there, but nothing concrete as of yet on the trade front. The deadline is January 10th, and the Cents have one open roster spot to make an addition without necessarily having to make a subtraction. 

On the powerplay, the Centennials are in a bit of a funk, going 1/16 since Christmas, but still hanging onto 10th with a 17.6%, Salmon Arm has just climbed above them in 9th with 18.1%, but there was a time when Salmon Arm was leading the league so they're a threat with the man advantage. The Cents hold down 9th in the league on the penalty kill, and are yet to have a perfect game since Christmas. The Silverbacks however are second worst in the league on the penalty kill at 76.9% so the Cents may be able to seize the special teams battle tonight. 

On paper, the Cents with the edge in the goaltending matchup as well. Austin Roden is 6-6-0-2 with a 92.1 SV% and a 2.89 GAA. Jacob Berger now 10-15-2-0 with a 91 SV% and a 3.22 GAA with 2 shutouts. Reid Cooper and Kyle Dumba are the netminders for Salmon Arm now. Cooper 3-11-0-1 with a 90.9 SV% and a 3.63 GAA and 1 shutout. Dumba 4-13 with a 89.7 SV% and a 3.86 GAA. 

Head Coach Joe Martin said last night that Salmon Arm is getting some payoff from their trades. 

"They've made some moves and brought in some players, and so far it's paying off for them. Sometimes that's the spark you need."

The Cents will try to light a spark tonight when they take on the Silverbacks. 

Puck drop 7pm, Pre-game 6:45 with Jared Thomas on Q101.1FM or online at q101.ca

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