The series swaps venues starting tonight as the Merritt Centennials welcome the Wenatchee Wild to the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.
The Cents will hope to get an assist from their home rink, which is the smallest in the BCHL, to help slow down the Wild and their high flying offense. After two games the Wild are humming along, in large part due to their powerplay which is 6/14 or a staggering 42.8%! Jasper Weatherby and Cooper Zech, the league's leaders on forward and defense, have arrived in the series. Weatherby has 6 points, scoring 2 in each game including the game winners, and Zech has added 4 assists as he quarterbacks the powerplay.
The offense for the Cents did arrive in game 2, and as has been the case all season the team got it done by committee. Christian Sabin scored unnassisted on a sharp angle shot 33 seconds into the game to get the Cents first goal of the playoffs. Rylan Van Unen and Matt Kopperud combined on a 2-on-1 to tie the game at two and chase game 1 starter Seth Eisele. Mathieu Gosselin collected a feed from Nick Wicks and fired one far-side blocker on Austin Park, and Zach Risteau streaked down the wing on a Mike Van Unen offering before sniping one top corner glove side. All the Cents goals have come during even strength play as they haven't managed to convert on the powerplay in the series going 0/5 including a 5-minute major and a full 2-minute 5-on-3.
Goaltending hasn't been sensational for either side. Eisele coming off a shutout on 14 shots in game 1, allowed 2 goals on 3 shots in game 2 and was pulled in favour of Austin Park. Austin Roden after shutting the door on 16 shots in relief in game 1, only stopped 15/19 in game 2 before being pulled in favour of Jacob Berger. In Roden's defense, 3 of the 4 goals allowed were on the powerplay.
Needless to say discipline will be a huge factor in game 3. Head Coach Joe Martin mentioned that the Cents goal was to allow for 3 minors a game, and through 2 games their averaging 7. That being said, the Cents also need to seize the opportunity when it arises which hasn't been often with only 5 powerplay chances, but that makes them all the more valuable. In the post game comments from game 2, Coach Martin also said his team needs to rise to the moment instead of being overcome by it and there's no bigger moment in the series than game 3 when you're down 2-0. 2-1 is a lot easier to swallow than down 3-0 on the verge of elimination.
In net after two games for the Wild, Eisele is 1-0 with an 88.2 SV%, a 1.84 GAA and 1 shutout. Park who the Cents saw for the first time this season in game 2 is 1-0 with an 88.9 SV% and a 2.20 GAA. For the Cents, Roden hasn't been the goaltender of record for either loss but has a 88.6 SV% and a 4.56 GAA while Jacob Berger has an 88.7 SV% and a 5.38 GAA.
The Cents need to play better from the net out and rise to the occasion of a crucial game 3.
A reminder to show up wearing your red to support the team in their biggest game of the year.
Puck Drop 7pm, Pre-Game 6:45 with Jared Thomas on Q101.1FM or online at q101.ca.