The Merritt Centennials (6-4) continue the Island swing tonight against the Cowichan Valley Capitals (1-6-1). **PUCK DROP 6PM**
Last night the Cents picked up their second win in a row by edging the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 4-3. After the Bulldogs got the lone goal of the first period, Joey Berkopec was the first to beat John Hawthorne in the second period for his first goal of the season. Rylan Van Unen got his 6th goal of the year on a Cents powerplay to gain the one goal edge 2-1, but the Bulldogs would tie it up on a powerplay of their own. In the third, Nick Granowicz broke off the wall and slid a backhander low to baffle Hawthorne to restore the one goal edge 3-2, but once again the Bulldogs managed to beat Vincent Duplessis to tie the game at threes. The Cents pushed for the go-ahead, and persevered thanks to leading scorer Brad Cocca who wristed one blocker-side to give the Cents a 4-3 lead with a minute and a half remaining. Duplessis and the Cents would hang on for the victory to start this road trip off right.
Last year the Centennials bested the Capitals on both occasions they played. The first game was a resounding 7-1 win, while the game on the Island was a shutout 4-0.
The Capitals were the only team on the outside looking in when it came to the playoffs last season, and find themseles in the same spot to start the year at 1-6-1. Starting the year 0-3, they picked up their lone win 4-0 against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, and find themselves in a 5 game losing skid heading into tonights matchup. The Capitals also find themselves struggling on offense, as they've taken over the bottom of the league in goals for with 17, while the Cents continue to lead the way with 39.
After his game-winning goal, Brad Cocca continues to power the Cents offense with 14 points, and following a two-point game Nick Granowicz moves into second on the team with 12 points. Captain Nick Wicks has 11 points, while Matt Kopperud, Mathieu Gosselin and Brendan Schneider all have 10 points a piece.
The Capitals are led by Vincent Millette with 5 points and have a slough of players at 4 points a piece including: Luke Vanroboys, Ryan Moon, and Preston Brodziak.
The special teams battle sees the Cents improve their numbers to 16.1% with the powerplay but remain in 10th in the league while the Capitals are 15th with a 13.5% conversion rate with the extra man. The Capitals have the edge on the penalty kill at 8th with 84.5% and the Cents are 15th with a 75.4% kill rate.
In net the Cents will turn to Austin Roden for game 2, just up the road from his hometown Victoria. Sporting a record of 4-2, a save percentage of .874, and a goals against of 4.12, he looks to get back in the win column after being pulled in the 6-3 loss to Penticton after allowing 4 goals in the first. Vincent Duplessis has improved to 2-2 with an .888 SV% and a 3.13 GAA. Jack Grant has shouldered the majority of the starts for the Capitals and sits 1-6 with a .917 SV% and a 3.02 GAA. Matthew Waite is 0-1 with a 3.51 GAA and a .897 SV%.
Head Coach Joe Martin anticipates a fierce physical battle tonight.
"The Capitals play more of a physical game, so our guys will have to power through some hits and make some plays and just persevere."
The Cents will look to persevere tonight for ther 3rd win in a row against the Capitals.
PUCK DROP 6PM. Pre-Game 6:45 on Q101.1FM or online at q101.ca with Jared Thomas.