The Merritt Centennials will hope for a better finish in their Home Opener against the Vernon Vipers, than the fate they suffered in their Season Opener against Salmon Arm last night.
Despite a strong first period that saw goals from Rylan Van Unen and Frazer Dodd, with assists from Nick Wicks and Matthew Kopperud, the Centennials lost focus in the early goings of the second period, and surrendered 3 goals. The story of the night was the special teams battle. The Centennials couldn't manage a goal with the man advantage despite a lengthy 2-man advantage and ended the night 0/7 while the Silverbacks scored 3 of their 4 goals with the extra man and finished the night 3/6. The brunt of the scoring came in the first half of the second period where the Backs were able to ride a momentum wave and score 3 unanswered in the first 10 minutes of the 2nd. To stem the momentum, the Centennials pulled starter Vincent Duplessis in favour of Austin Roden. Duplessis stopped 20/23 shots he faced while Austin Roden stopped 6/7 in relief as the Cents lost 4-2.
The Centennials didn't suffer from lack of chances in game one of the season. They hit numerous posts, and may have even had a goal from Joey Berkopec that bounced in and out fast enough for it to go unregistered on the ice. The missed marker, would've tied the game at 3 and given the Centennials something to build off of on the powerplay, but none of the officials or bench staff seemed to notice.
Discipline will remain a theme throughout the season, but many of the newcomers played well in their BCHL debut. Despite it not being his first BCHL game, Frazer Dodd registered his first BCHL goal. In 7 games as an affiliate player last season, he got on the score sheet, but only registered 4 assists. He was set up by a beautiful give and go with line mate Matt Kopperud. Talon Zakall, Brady Ziemer, and Jaydon Fetter didn't look out of place on the blue line, and Fetter's confidence seemed to go throughout the game jumping up in the rush and trying to create offense. Brett Roloson and Ben Ward had exceptional nights, but saw limited action as the Cents opted to go with 7 defenseman, and different players cycled in to play with them.
The veterans held their own as well seeing plenty of ice-time, time on the powerplay, and providing the scoring punch, but will need to stay consistent for the whole game to pull the Cents past the Vipers.
The Cents will have to put that behind them, try and learn from the game film, and move on as the Vernon Vipers come to town on the heels of a loss of their own. The Vipers Home Opener was spoiled by BCHL Champions, the Wenatchee Wild, as they also came back to win 5-3. The Vipers were also the victim of the special teams battle as the Wild ran wild on the powerplay going 3/4 while the Vipers went 0/1. With plenty of returning talent in the Vipers lineup the Centennials will face a stiffer test than the young Silverbacks squad. Both teams will be hungry for their first win of the year.
There will be plenty of festivities on hand for the Murray GM Home Opener. Free Hand Clappers for the first 150 fans through the door, giveaways in the first intermission, and the Murray GM Bungee Battle for an oil change in the second intermission. Tickets will be available at the door.
Puck Drop 7:05, Pre-Game 6:45 on the air at Q101.1FM, and online Q101.ca with Jared Thomas.