Merritt Centennials
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The Merritt Centennials (19-25-4-1) continue the Island swing tonight in Nanaimo where they face one of the hottest teams in the BCHL in the Clippers (27-20-3-3).

The Cents are coming off a 7-4 loss last night to the Powell River Kings. A game that had a lot of swings of momentum. Merritt dominated the first period, but were a victim of a goal against the grain before Brendan Schneider tied the game 13 minutes into the first.

The second saw the counter attack loom large. Zach Risteau converted on an early period powerplay, but the Kings answered with 3 goals (one of them shorthanded), before Rylan Van Unen got the Cents back within one to make it 4-3. The period ended with the teams exchanging goals with the Cents on the man advantage. They surrendered another goal shortmanned before Nick Wicks converted on a late powerplay to head into the 3rd trailing 5-4.

In the third, the Cents had to kill off a double-minor to begin the period, and that set the tone for the remainder of the game. The Cents weren’t quite able to get going and the Kings added 2 more goals including an empty netter to take it 7-4.

Nanaimo is coming off a victory over the Wenatchee Wild last night where they came away with a 4-1 victory. Continuing their hot play of late, as they are unbeaten in 6 games in a row. Josh Bourne, David Silye, Brady Lynn, and Tristan Crozier had goals for the Clippers.

The last time these two teams met, was the last game before Christmas. Where the Cents finished their pre-Christmas push strong with a 4-2 win.

Since then, the Cents are playing another team that’s made a head coaching change. Long time Cents coach, then Clippers boss Mike Van de Kamp was let go shortly after Christmas when new ownership took over the team. Nanaimo is now run by Darren Naylor who comes from the highly successful Junior B’s Delta Ice Hawks.

The Clippers are led by Tristan Crozier who is 15th in league scoring with 52 points. He’s supported by Jake Harris (45), Parker Colley and David Silye (37), and Cal Babych (33).

The line of Risteau, Court, and Schneider remains red hot heading into tonights matchup. They’ve combined for 13 points over the last two games. Rylan Van Unen begun to pick up his game since his return from injury and now has 10 goals and 15 points.

The game will be a bit of a homecoming for Mattias Dal Monte, the Nanaimo native, as well as Austin Roden, who hails from Victoria but came over in a mid-season trade from Nanaimo.

The special teams battle sees the Clippers 5th in the league on the powerplay with a 20.4% conversion rate, while the Cents are now 8th with 19%. They scored two goals on the powerplay last night, but also surrendered two short handed goals. On the penalty kill, the Cents also 8th with an 81.8% kill rate, while the Clippers are tenth at 81.3%.

The goaltending battle will see Austin Roden suit up against his former club. He’s 8-9-0-2 with a 92.5 SV%, a 2.70 GAA, and 1 shutout. It will be his first game back since returning from injury. The Clippers will turn to the tandem of Taz Burman and Noah FeatherStonhaugh Gowe. Burman is 18-11-0-2 with a 91.5 SV%, a 2.66 GAA, and 1 shutout. Gowe is 7-7 with an 89.4 SV%, 3.42 GAA, and 1 shutout.

The Cents will hope to right the ship against the Clippers tonight.

Puck drop 6pm, Pre-Game 5:45 on Q101.1FM or online at q101.ca  

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