The Merritt Centennials and the Wenatchee Wild have had a night off to think about the series, but tonight playoff action resumes.
The mood around the Centennials during their off-day was surprisingly upbeat despite dropping the opening game of the series 4-0.
The Wild shot out to a 2-0 lead courtest of league leading scorer Jasper Weatherby in the first period. Weatherby's first goal came 9:30 into the frame when he cut out of the corner, and rode the goal line before forcing his way in front of the net and beating Jake Berger low shortside.
After a Zach Court slashing call, Weatherby found the back of the net on the man advantage by deflecting a point shot to make it 2-0 after 1. Berger was the busier of the two netminders turning away 9/11 shots, while Seth Eisele only had to stop 3.
In the second, the Wild continued to press. The Cents were having trouble getting out of their zone, and were having an equally troubling time spending extended periods in the Wild end. Zak Galambos ended up fooling Berger with a 5-hole shot on a powerplay with Mike Van Unen in the box for slashing.
Ashton Stockie dropped the mits against Nathan Iannone late in the second looking to spark his team, and the bout was spirited but shortlived as Stockie lost his footing and fell to the ice with the linesman jumping in shortly after.
The fight didn't provide the fire as Captain of the Wild, AJ Vanderbeck, added his first of the post season on a quick bing-bang-boom play, fed by Murphy Stratton and Weatherby behind the net. That would be the end of Berger's night, stopping 21/25 shots.
Austin Roden would relieve Berger in the late second and third and managed to stop all 16 shots he faced, despite the Cents making a parade to the penalty box late in the game. The Cents fell 4-0 while being outshot 41-14.
The Wild have only been outshot four times throughout the whole regular season, so that task may be a little out of reach, but they'll need to test Eisele a little more than 14 times in a game if they want to top the Wild.
The Cents will also have to engage their forecheck with a little more pace. The Wild were able to use their quick puck movement to escape pressure, and their zone too easily in game 1. However, the Cents were able to generate chances on the counter-attack, but just weren't able to convert. They'll look to do so tonight as they're they only team in the BCHL playoffs to be shutout in game 1.
The special teams battle in game 1 saw the Wild go 2/8 on the powerplay or 25%, the Cents were 0/2 on their opportunities.
Seth Eisele stopped all 14 shots he faced in net, and Bliss Littler, coach of the Wild, will likely turn back to his top netminder. Despite the low number of shots, Eisele did make a couple highlight reel saves to keep the Cents off the board. Jacob Berger stopped 21/25 for an 84 SV%, while Austin Roden stopped all 16 he faced in relief duty. On the postgame show, Head Coach Joe Martin said that his mind was made up about who would start game 2, but he wouldn't divulge that info.
The Cents will look to bounce back and earn the split in game 2 against the Wild. The key word being earn, Cents need to play with that desperation and desire to win.
Puck Drop 7:05, Pre-Game 6:45 with Jared Thomas on Q101.1FM or online at q101.ca.