Merritt Centennials
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The Centennials come into a sunday afternoon tilt against the West Kelowna Warriors looking for redemption on parents weekend. The Cents lost on friday night to Trail Smoke Eaters 5-4 in a game that was within their grasp. They led 2-1 after 1 on goals from Zach Court and Tyrell Buckley, and led 3-1 mid way through the second after Ashton Stockie went top shelf on Tanner Marshall, but Trail was able to rally off three straight powerplay goals to tie the game, and then get the go ahead goal at even strength before Buckley tied it late in the third only to have the lead restored a minute later. Jake Berger turned away36 of 41 shots, and allowed more than 4 goals for just the 2nd time this year. 

The Warriors are coming off a 5-2 loss to the Vernon Vipers in which they managed to tie the game at two before Vernon pulled away. Nik Amundrud got the start in the game and turned away 34 of 39 shots. The Warriors have gone 6-3 in October, but they come into this game on the heels of two losses. 

The Cents and Warriors clashed earlier this season, the third game of the year, and the Warriors were able to get the win. They scored three throughout the game, and Cole Demers had a shutout until the final minute, when Jack Vincent broke the bid. The Cents will see Cole Demers once again in net, and statistically, he's the top net minder in the BCHL with a 1.38 goals against average and a .954 save percentage and a perfect 5-0 record. The Cents will look to give Demers the first blemish on that record. 

The Warriors are led by Jared Marino, Calvin Tilsley, Michael Ryan, RJ Murphy, and Chase Dubois offensivley, all with over 10 points. Marino, the captain, leads the pack with 6 goals and 9 assists. However, the Warriors won't have goaltender Nik Amundrud or forward Calvin Tilsley in the lineup this afternoon. The Warriors finally busted their 0/18 slump last night on the powerplay and now sit at 18.9% for the season, and have the leagues third best penalty kill at 87.2%. 

The Cents are led by Nick Wicks (15 points), Tyrell Buckley (11), Henry Cleghorn (10), Zach Zorn (10), and Zach Court (10) offensively, and have had no problems filling the net in the past few games. However, they've had trouble on the penalty kill where they've allowed 7 goals in the past two games, and their PK numbers have suffered as a result at 79.6%. Their powerplay got two against the Silverbacks last saturday, but couldn't manage to get one against the Smoke Eaters and now sits at 16.9%

Assistant Coach Matt Sampson says that a fast start is key. 

"We'll need a fast start, I thought our start [on friday night] was a little sloppy, we'll need to get after them early, and get back on track here."

The Cents will look for the fast start and the strong finish this afternoon. Puck drop 2pm, Pre Game 1:45 with Jared Thomas on Q101.1 FM or on your desktop or device at q101.ca

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If the game was left to 5 on 5 play, the Cents would have won 4-2, but there's a reason why they call penalties in the game, and the Cents allowed 3 goals while short handed falling 5-4 in a close one in front of the home fans, parents, and billets on the kick off to parents weekend at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena. 

The first period started well for the Cents as Nick Wicks was able to work it to the line to Sam Miller, who threw a shot on Tanner Marshall from the point, the puck deflected high into the air before bouncing off the back of Marshall and into the crease where Zach Court was able to push it across the line for the first goal of the hockey game. The Smoke Eaters were able to tie things up on a 5 on 3 powerplay with Matthieu Gosselin and Joey Berkopec in the box. The Smoke Eaters worked it around the perimeter and set up Seth Barton with a one-timer to tie things up at 1. However, the Cents regained the lead when a d man of their own jumped up into the play and was found by a feed from Christian Sabin from behind the Trail net. Tyrell Buckley was able to step into one and put it up and over the glove of Tanner Marshall for a 2-1 lead. 

The second period went back and forth before Ashton Stockie had the ice breaker. Gosselin had the opportunity to break in, but couldn't get past the D so he dished to Stockie who walked in and went top shelf on Marshall to make it 3-1. Late in the second, the Cents got into penalty trouble,and the Smoke Eaters were able to add two more on two seperate powerplays. Andre Ghantous and Braeden Tuck got the goals past Jacob Berger who was making his league leading start after playing 809 minutes total leading into the game. After 40 minutes the teams were tied 3-3. 

The tie didn't last long into the 3rd period as the Smoke Eaters got the early go ahead goal. Spencer McLean found the loose puck in the slot and roofed it on Berger to make it 4-3. Tyrell Buckley provided some late game heroics, tying the game at 4-4 with 3:44 to go, but just a minute later Levi Glasman scored a wrister from the outside to beat Berger and restore the lead 5-4, and that was the closest the Cents would come despite pulling the goalie. 

After the game Assistant Coach Matt Sampson said that the Cents have to be better prepared. 

"Our start of periods, and our shifts after goals need to be better if we want to have success."

The Cents will have a night off for the Ice Breaker, before hosting the West Kelowna Warriors on Sunday Afternoon. Puckdrop at 2pm, Pre Game at 1:45 with Jared Thomas on 101.1 FM or stream on your desktop or device on q101.ca. 

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The Cents have had almost a full week to rest and prepare for the 3rd place team in the Interior Division the Trail Smoke Eaters who have a 10-4-1-0 record throughout the first two months of the season including an October in which they've gone 4-3-0-0. The Cents have improved in October and own a 3-3-2-0 record.However, Trail is coming off their most lopsided loss of the season to the Vernon Vipers, a game in which they fell 9-0. The Cents are coming off a Double OT 5-4 win over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, so the teams are at opposite extremes of the emotional spectrum. 

 This will be the first matchup of the season between these Interior Division rivals. Last season the Cents won the season series 5-2, but this Trail team is a much improved club that has added some key youngsters to their team without losing many players to aging out. 

The Smoke Eaters boast the top scoring tandem in the league in Kale Howarth and Ross Armour with a combined 44 points. They also have 5 more players who have more than 10 points so far in the season. The Cents now have 3 players above the 10 point plateau: Nick Wicks, Zack Zorn, and Henry Cleghorn. 

The Special Teams battle sees the Centennials numbers continue to improve. They now sport a 17.8% conversion rate on the powerplay, good enough for 11th in the league, and are killing penalties 81.5% of the time, also 11th in the league. The Cents have also spent the 3rd most time in the league on the penalty kill. The Smoke Eaters are 6th best in the league currently on the powerplay with a 20.3% conversion rate, and an 80.7% rate on the penalty kill. 

In net, the Cents' rookie Jared Breitkruz got the win last saturday against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, but we'll most likely see a return to the goalie who has seen the most time in the crease out of any goalie in the BCHL with 809 minutes played, Jacob Berger. Berger sports a 4-8-2-0 record with a .911 save percentage and a 3.09 goals against average. 

The Smoke Eaters have used both their goaltenders this year and Tanner Marshall or Brandon Wells could come into the crease tonight. Marshall has been the more successful goaltender despite fewer starts with a 5-0-0-0 record, .916 save percentage, and a 3.12 goals against average. Wells is 5-5-0-0 with a .890 save percentage, 3.20 goals against average. 

Head Coach Joe Martin says the Cents will have to be wary of the Smoke Eaters skaters. 

"Their top group is very patient with the puck and they excel when there's a lot of space, and can create offense out of nothing."

The Cents will hope to create a win tonight when they host Trail at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena. Puck Drop 7pm, Pre Game 6:45 with Jared Thomas. On air at 101.1FM or stream us online from your desktop or device at q101.ca. 

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The refs had the whistles out in full force as the Cents took on the Silverbacks at the Shaw Centre for the second time this season. There were 17 minor penalties called throughout the game with 11 being called against the Cents, but they were able to win it in double OT 5-4. The Cents got 2 goals on the powerplay, 1 goal short handed, 1 goal 4 on 4, and 1 goal 3 on 3. 

The first period set the tone for the game on the penalty front, but it wasn’t until the 9:08 mark when Sam Miller went off for interference, and just 3 seconds later Henry Cleghorn went off for high sticking off the following faceoff. The Silverbacks’ Josh Latta was able to convert on the 5-on-3 after a point shot went off his chest and to the ice and he backhanded the puck into the net past Jared Breitkruz who was making his first start in the BCHL to make it 1-0.

At the 13:06 mark Jack Vincent went off for cross checking, and on the penalty kill the cents were able to find the back of the net short handed. Zach Zorn checked the D-man up high and was able to break away, he lost control of the puck on the deke and couldn’t get a decent shot away, but Cleghorn was there to clean up the garbage and tie the game up 1-1.

The Silverbacks regained the lead on the same powerplay as Latta struck again to make it 2-1, and that’s how the teams would skate into the second period. The Silverbacks had 5 chances on the powerplay, and coming into the game had the best powerplay in the league at 23%.

The Cents started the second period on the penalty kill, but were able to kill it off, and were able to convert on a powerplay of their own at the 6:48 mark. Matthieu Gosselin had the puck behind the net, and threw it out front and Zorn willed it passed the line outworking three Silverbacks in front to bang home the puck to tie it 2-2.

After Colten Gerlib went off for a double minor half way through the second, and a Silverbacks player took a penalty, the teams skated 4 on 4 for a full two minutes. Skating 4 on 4, Tyrell Buckley worked it up the right side to Nick Wicks and the Cents went to the attack. Wicks had Court open on the farside, but opted to wait for the trailer, Sam Miller, and Miller went mid-blocker side on Didur to give the Cents their first lead in the game 3-2.

In the third, Nic Unruh was the first on the board on the PP, getting to a lose puck that was caught in some skates in the slot, and he found it first and beat Breitkruz just over the right pad to tie things up at 3.

Late in the game, after a hit up high on Brad Cocca, the Cents went to the powerplay, and Henry Cleghorn gave the Cents the late lead 4-3. However, moments later Tyrell Buckley took a very soft slashing call, and on the PP the Silverbacks managed to tie it up to send it to overtime 4-4.

The first OT saw teams taking chances, and Breitkruz saved his best for the extra frames as he stoned the leading goal scorer for the Silverbacks, Rhett Kingston, in tight with a right pad save with 2 second left in the first OT.

In the second OT, Breitkruz came up huge again with an even more miraculous save on Kingston this time with the back heel of his skate when he was down and out to kick it away. Later on in the 3 on 3 frame, Zorn broke down the right wing and threw a shot on that was partially blocked, and it went to Nick Wicks who was able to roof it over Didur for the 5-4 double OT win.

After the game, Joe Martin was proud of how his team overcame adversity despite the numerous penalties.

“There were some calls made in the game that by the rulebook were calls. I disagreed with calls on both sides… but we got the win.”

The Cents end the weekend on a high note before welcoming Trail and West Kelowna next Friday and Sunday.

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A night after losing to the Penticton Vees after a 5 minute lapse of judgement early in the 3rd period. The Cents go right back on the road to take on the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. 

The last time these two teams played on October 6th before the Thanksgiving Day longweekend, the Backs ended up beating the Cents by a final score of 7-4. However, the scoreline was a lot more flattering than the game itself as the Silverbacks were leading 7-1 before the Cents managed to score 3 goals in the final 5 minutes including 2 in the final minute of play. 

The Cents will continue to adhere to their mantra this season, which is play a strong 60 minutes. It hasn't come as easy as saying it in the last week, off of matching 4-2 losses to the Chilliwack Chiefs and the Vees. Against Chilliwack at home, the Cents took off the second period and were chasing, and last night the Vees only needed 5 minutes to explode for enough offense. 

There were some bright spots in last nights game as Brad Cocca, the newest Centennial, scored his first goal in the BCHL and on the season, and now has 3 points in 4 games since joining the team last Friday from the St. Michael's Buzzers. His point per game rate is actually second on the team behind leading goal scorer Nick Wicks at .75. 

The Cents will have to be wary of a couple big offensive weapons for the Silverbacks, as they have 5 players who are converting above .75 points per game. Leading goal scorer Rhett Kingston has 13 points this season, and he's followed by Tanner Campbell with 12, and Justin Wilson with 11.

However, it was the pressure of the defense that Head Coach Joe Martin wants to focus on tonight. 

"If we're late to pucks or we're not skating with the team tomorrow we'll be in our end, and we'll get outshot again, and they'll have a lot of chances on net. They're an agressive hockey team... they're really focused on pushing you back towards your end."

The Cents will look to get a little more offensive zone time as they only managed 20 shots last night compared to Penticton's 43. 

The special team numbers continue to improve for the Cents who scored both their goals with the man advantage last night on 5 attempts, and managed to kill off all of Penticton's powerplays, but they did allow a shorthanded goal. The PK is now up to 84% while the PP is up to 16.4%, the Salmon Arm Silverbacks now find themselves with the best powerplay in the league at 23% however they now have the third worst penalty kill at 75.3%. Last night in the 6-1 loss against the Chiefs, the Silverbacks allowed 3 shorthanded goals, all to the same player as Regan Kimens had a shorthanded hat trick. The Cents have two short handed goals already this season. As always, special teams will be a factor. 

The Cents will look for win number 5 tonight and win number one against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks this year at the Shaw Centre. Puck drop at 7pm, Pre Game at 6:45 with Jared Thomas on 101.1FM, q101.ca, or the Q101 Merritt App. 

 

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