Merritt Centennials
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The Merritt Centennials finished off 2018 strong with a pair of wins over the Trail Smoke Eaters including tonight 5-3. 

The game started with some rough stuff, but the Cents cooled things down by converting on the powerplay. Mattias Dal Monte blasted one from the top of the right dot after taking a dish from Matt Kopperud to make it 1-0. St. Nick Wicks would gift the Cents a 2 goal lead half-way through the first, but then the Smoke Eaters would start to crawl back. Kent Johnson and Powell Connor would add goals to tie the game after one period of play. Austin Roden made 9/11 and AP Logan Terness stopped 7/9 in the first. 

The second started with the Smoke Eaters on the powerplay and they'd convert early with a shot from Diarmad Dimurro. Mathieu the Goose Gosselin would make a triumphant return to the lineup and tie the game at 3 after a shot from the right wing from Nick Granowicz created a big rebound. The shots after 2 periods were 23-20. 

The Cents needed a big effort in the third, and would prove why they're one of the best teams in the BCHL on home ice. After battling through the first half of the period, the Cents would finally hit pay dirt. Brady Ziemer would walk into a perfect feed from Nick Wicks who was looking for the trailer on the play, and Ziemer made no mistake ripping a wrister top corner blocker side for the game winning goal. Christian Sabin would take a page from the same book, as he'd go top salami after a steal in the offensive zone to give the Cents some extra insurance at 5-3. Final shots were 38-30 and the Cents went 2/7 on the powerplay. 

ENERGY PLAYER OF THE GAME: Brendan Schneider 1A

3RD STAR: Mattias Dal Monte 1G

2ND STAR: Brady Ziemer 1G

1ST STAR: Nick Wicks 1G 1A

After the game Head Coach Joe Martin said he is proud of his team through the first half of the year. 

"I'm impressed by our scoring, I'm impressed by our depth at every position. The only thing that needs to improve is our special teams, and that will really help us as we head into the playoffs."

The Cents head into the Christmas break and will return to action on January 4th against the Prince George Spruce Kings. 

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The Merritt Centennials (3rd Int/22-13-1-1) return home for a rematch against the Trail Smoke Eaters (6th Int/14-18-5-3) tonight, in the second game of a home-and-home series in the final weekend of BCHL action of 2018.

The Cents are hoping to duplicate the effort from last night where they came away with a 5-2 win. A great start in the first period saw the Cents out to a 3-0 lead. Christian Sabin got the party started with a hard drive to the net, and was found flawlessly by Captain Nick Wicks. Rookie Brett Roloson extended the lead to 2-0 with a shot bar-down and in, while Nick Granowicz got the third goal by just throwing the puck on net. Vincent Duplessis was perfect through 2 periods stopping 21 shots in that time, but in the third the Smoke Eaters made it close crawling back to make it 3-2 before the Cents got more contributions. Another goal from Sabin where he was driving hard to the net gave the Cents some breathing room, and Nick Granowicz iced the game with an empty netter for a 5-2 final.

The Cents now lead the season series 2-0-1. Prior to the game last night, the Smoke Eaters had won against the Penticton Vees and the Wenatchee Wild. With the win the Centennials continue their streak of not losing 3 games in a row this season.

The Cents are looking to finish off a strong start to the season at home where they are 14-5 in 2018.The home record is good enough for 4th in the BCHL, and away from home they've been playing .500 hockey. The NVMA is one of the toughest buildings to play in, and it’s a place where things happen quickly. A turnover at either end can result in a chance before you know it so both teams will have to be sharp.

The Cents continue to be led by Brad Cocca who picked up an assist last night and is one shy of 50 ahead of the break and 3rd in the BCHL scoring race. Nick Granowicz is starting to collect points, and is up to 44 now, back into the top 10 at 7th. Captain Nick Wicks is third on the team with 38 points and remains in the top 20.

The Smoke Eaters can score in bunches and are led by veteran Chase Stevenson who has 34 points, Carter Jones has 31 points and their Captain Braeden Tuck has 29 points.

The special teams battle still favours the Smoke Eaters:

Powerplay:                            Penalty Kill:

Trail -  19.8% (7th)            Trail – 76.4% (14th)

Cents - 17.7% (13th)      Cents – 75% (17th)

The goaltending duel will see Austin Roden start the game for the Centennials. He is 14-7 with an .895 SV%, a 3.35 GAA and 1 shutout. New backup Logan Terness will go for the Trail Smoke Eaters the young goaltender has seen two games of action and is 0-1 with a 6.20 GAA and .860 SV%.

Head Coach Joe Martin says the Cents will need to get a couple things under control to have another victory over Trail.

“Our faceoffs and our penalty kill will need to improve. We started a lot of the 2nd and 3rd without the puck and you saw Trails shots go up. Tighten those two areas up and I like our chances.”

Puck Drop 7pm from the NVMA. It's Ugly Sweater night, rock an ugly sweater and get in for the price tier lower!

Pre-Game 6;45 on Q101.1FM and Q101.ca with Jared Thomas.

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The Merritt Centennials made their final road trip of 2018 worth their while by following a strong opening period to win 5-2 over the Trail Smoke Eaters.

The Cents shook off the road rust early with a goal from Christian Sabin just 4:09 into the game. Brad Cocca floated a cross ice pass to Captain Nick Wicks on the right wing side, and as he skated across the blue line, Sabin drove hard to the net with his stick on the ice and was able to deflect the centering feed past Adam Marcoux to make it 1-0. At the 12:09 mark, after killing off the first Trail powerplay of the game, the Cents would make it 2-0 when rookie Brett Roloson converted a pass from behind the net from Kopperud and fired it bar-down. The Cents would cap off the perfect road period with a heads up hockey play from Nick Granowicz. After gaining the zone on the left-side of the ice he’d simply throw it on net and it found a way to give the Cents a 3-0 lead after one period of play. Vincent Duplessis stopped all 7 shots he faced in the first, while Marcoux allowed 3 on 12 shots.

The second period didn’t see any scoring, and didn’t see many penalties either. However, Duplessis had to stand tall as the Cents were out shot 13-5 in the period.

The final frame started with some fisticuffs. Brady Ziemer dropped the gloves with Captain Braeden Tuck and after getting some good shots in early was wrestled to the ice. Ziemer got an extra minor penalty for his efforts, and the Smoke Eaters would make the Cents play on the powerplay. The Smokies would add another to get right back in the game at 3-2, and the Cents hadn’t mustered much offense to that point in the period. After a good energy shift from the energy line. Payton Matsui found Christian Sabin streaking to the net again, and the 20 year old converted for his second of the game to give the Cents some breathing room 4-2. Nick Granowicz would ice the game with an empty-netter to make it a 5-2 final. Duplessis stopped 30/32 shots while Marcoux stopped 19/24.

ENERGY PLAYER OF THE GAME: CHASE STEVENSON 2A

3RD STAR: MATT KOPPERUD 2A

2nd STAR: NICK GRANOWICZ 2G 1A

1st STAR: CHRISTIAN SABIN 2G

After the game Head Coach Joe Martin applauded his teams effort after a long bus ride.

“I thought that was our best period of the game. Playing solid at both ends of the ice, and it went a little downhill from there. Still nice to come out with a win.”

The Cents will reset for Trail tomorrow night at the NVMA.

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The Merritt Centennials (3rd Int/21-13-1-1) take the long road to face the Trail Smoke Eaters (6th Int/14-17-5-3) tonight, in the first of a home-and-home series in the final weekend of BCHL action of 2018. 

The Centennials will look to improve from last weekends events as the team lost both contests and was held pointless during a week of play for the first time in a long time. The Cents started off the weekend in West Kelowna to face the Warriors, and couldn't muster any offense until the third period. Down by a score of 3-0, the Cents came back to tie, but couldn't keep pushing after that and fell 6-3. The following night at home against the Powell River Kings the Cents got into a powerplay battle with the top team in the league, and actually came away with the edge in special teams goals, but at even strength the team didn't do enough defensively and fell by a score of 6-5. 

The Trail Smoke Eaters are coming off a pair of wins against some of the top contenders in the Interior Division, and aren't a team to be taken lightly despite their record. They are a handful on home ice, in part because of the travel teams have to undertake to get their, but also because of the support they get from the hometown crowd. They handled the Penticton Vees by a score of 3-2 last weekend, and during a mid-week match up managed to top the streaking Wenatchee Wild and ended their win streak at 9 games by a score of 5-2. 

The last time these two teams met was back in mid-November where the Cents also played them back to back, however, the games were separated by a week not just a day. The home teams have won both games in the season series. The Centennials handled the Smoke Eaters 4-2 when they visited the NVMA, but a week later the Smokies shut down the Cents with a 2-1 OT win. Brad Cocca scored the Cents lone goal in the third period to send the game to extra time and Vincent Duplessis had a goal get across the line, but not past him for the OT winner. 

Tonight's match will feature the return of bronze medalists at the World Junior A Challenge, Mathieu Gosselin and Head Coach Joe Martin. Gosselin picked up a goal and 2 assists through the tournament in his first time representing Canada on the International stage. Coach Martin adds a bronze medal to his collection which includes a gold from last years tournament. 

The Centennials top guns will need to feature prominently, but the Cents will also have to focus on defense a week after allowing 6 goals in each game. Brad Cocca paces the team and is 3rd in the league with 48 points. Nick Granowicz has busted his mini-slump at 6 games with a goal the last time out and is 11th league wide with 41 points. Mathieu Gosselin and Nick Wicks are tied at 37 points and are both in the top 20 in BCHL scoring. 

The Smoke Eaters are led by early-season acquisition Chase Stevenson who has 32 points. Carter Jones has 31, and Captain Braeden Tuck has 29 points. 

After the game against Powell River, the Cents powerplay got a boost, but their penalty kill took a hit. The Smokies hold the edge in both categories: 

Powerplay:                                                                  Penalty Kill: 

Trail - 19.4% (8th)                                                   Trail - 76.6% (14th)

Cents - 17.8% (13th)                                              Cents - 75.3% (17th) 

In net the Centennials are looking for a rebound with both goalies coming off losses. Austin Roden is 14-7 with a .897 SV%, a 3.35 GAA, and 1 shutout. Vincent Duplessis is 7-5-2 with a .902 SV% and a 3.39 GAA. For the Smoke Eaters, Adam Marcoux has been the work horse this season. Marcoux is 12-17 with a .896 SV% and a 3.05 GAA. Tanner Marshall is 2-4 with a .884 SV% and a 3.22 GAA.

Assistant Coach Brandon Shaw knows that this will be a game that both teams will be hungry for ahead of the Christmas break. 

"Whenever you play a team back to back, you know there's going to be bad blood. We're hoping to regroup after last weekend, and put our best foot forward to end the year."

The Cents will look to sate their hunger with a win tonight.

Puck Drop 7pm. Pre-Game 6:45 on Q101.1FM and Q101.ca with Jared Thomas.  

 

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The Merritt Centennials got into a special teams battle with the Powell River Kings, but it would be the even strength game that would set them apart as the Cents fell 6-5. 

The first period saw the Cents get the first powerplay of the game, and the first goal of the game. The offense came from a source that has been quiet of late. Nick Granowicz coralled a Matt Kopperud saucer feed in the middle on a hard charge to the net, and made Mitch Adamyk miss with a move to the backhand and beat him down low. The Cents would keep the offense coming with another goal on the powerplay. Rylan Van Unen would turn the puck over at the blue line, and Christian would pick up the loose puck and fire it past Adamyk to make it 2-0. However, Powell River would get the next chance on the powerplay and they'd prove why they are tops in the league convertiing on their first opportunity. Captain Nick Wicks would get in on the offense by finishing off a crash bang play to the net. Joey Berkopec took the original shot that didn't get through, Brendan Schneider found the puck threw it towards net, it didn't get through, and then Wicks found the loose puck and this time it found the back of the net. After one period, shots were 15-12 in favour of the Cents. Vincent Duplessis stopped 11/12 in the period. 

Early in the second on a powerplay that carried over from the first, Ryan Brushett would score coming across the line with speed and a quick shot to tie the game at 2's. Late in the frame Brendan Schneider would make it 4-2 by picking up a shot off the end boards and beat Matteo Paeler-Chow who came on in relief of Adamyk after the first period. However, the Kings would would pull within one with just 8 seconds left in the second. Shots after two were 28-20 for the Centennials. 

In the third, the Kings would begin to flex their might. Jaydon Lee would score through the crowd from the point to tie the game at 4. Brushett would add another goal on the powerplay for the Kings to take their first lead 5-4. The Cents would answer, once again on the powerplay, but this time Matt Kopperud maneuvered the puck off the half-wall then fired a quick shot mid-glove of Paeler-Chow to make it 5-5. Late in the third, the Kings would get the eventual game winner on a bit of a weak one from the slot that fooled Duplessis from Shmunk. With the Cents pushing for the tie late, Kopperud was hit up high, but instead of the Cents going to the powerplay late - he would be called for embellishment and sent to the box despite bleeding on the play. That would essentially derail the comeback effort and the Cents would fall 6-5. 

After the game, Assistant Coach Brandon Shaw said the team worked hard, but couldn't get the late push. 

"There were stretches where we were really pushing the pace, but there were those small lapses where we got caught."

The Cents next play the Trail Smoke Eaters in a home-and-home next weekend. 

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