Merritt Centennials
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The Merritt Centennials (21-12-1-1 3rd Int) look to rebound at home against the Powell River Kings (20-13-1-0 2nd Isl) tonight.

The Centennials are coming off a tough loss in West Kelowna where they ran into a hot goalkeeper. Connor Hopkins stopped 48/51 shots, and only buckled in the 3rd period, but held off a Cents attack through 2 periods of play. The Cents couldn't get their powerplay going in the first 2 periods, and the Warriors did - that spelled the difference in the game. The Warriors went 2/4 while the Cents went 0/4, and when you factor in the empty netter the 3 goal spread came courtesy the extra man. The Cents to their credit came back valiantly in the third period with goals from Brad Cocca, Mattias Dal Monte, and Matt Kopperud, but they couldn't hold the tie and suffered the 6-3 loss. Cocca and Kopperud now have 16 goals on the year.

Powell River are one of the top teams on the Island, and they are starting to really turn it on across the board. They represent a challenge up and down the line up, and on special teams. Goalie Mitch Adamyk is coming off a player of the week performance, and forward Ryan Brushett scored the league-wide honor just three week ago. On special teams they are the top team with the man advantage, and second on the penalty kill. It's going to take a full effort from top to bottom to beat the Kings.

The Kings swept the season series last year. They won in Merritt in a close 3-2 double overtime victory, and in Powell River they handled the Cents 7-4.

The Kings are 3-2 in their last 5 games, and have topped two strong teams in their last two outings. They blanked the Chilliwack Chiefs 5-0 and doubled up the Langley Rivermen last night 6-3.

The Centennials will need a full effort from their whole line up, but especially their top guns. With a goal and an assist, Cocca remains in 3rd in league scoring with 47 points. Nick Granowicz was robbed of a secondary assist last night and remains at 38 points, but did show flashes of his former slump self and has 38 points. Nick Wicks picked up an assist and is up to 37 points on the year.

The Kings are led by Ryan Brushett who is 2nd in league scoring with 48 points, and first in goals scored with 25. There's a bit of a drop to Levi Glasman who has 34 points, and Neil Samanski who has 28 points.

The special teams battle is stacked in the Kings favour:

Powerplay:                                                   Penalty Kill:

Kings - 24.2% (1st)                                  Kings - 87% (2nd)

Cents - 16.5% (15th)                             Cents - 76.3% (15th)

In net, Austin Roden suffered the loss last night and is 14-7 with a .897 SV% and a 3.35 GAA. Vincent Duplessis could see a return to the crease and is 7-4-2 with a .906 SV% and a 3.21 GAA. Mitch Adamyk is the standout goalie for the Kings and is 15-9 with a .908 SV% and a 2.73 GAA, and a league leading 4 shutouts. Hayden Missler is 4-3 with a 2.18 GAA and a .921 SV%.

Assistant Coach Brandon Shaw says the combination of depth with their ability on special teams will make the Kings a challenge.

"They're really good throughout the line up and they're right at the top in terms of the powerplay and the penalty kill. They'll be a stiff test."

The Cents will hope they can be equal to the task tonight.

Puck Drop 7pm. Pre-Game 6:45 on Q101.1FM and q101.ca with Jared Thomas.

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The Merritt Centennials had difficulty getting the puck past a strong goaltender, and the Warriors made their special teams count to take their first of the season series 6-3.

In the first period, the Centennials and Warriors traded chances, but no one could find the back of the net early. A rare shift in the season series that has seen the first goal scored within the first 3 minutes with regularity. The first goal wouldn’t come until the first powerplay opportunity for the West Kelowna Warriors. With Joey Berkopec in the box, Lucas Cullen would score low blocker on Austin Roden from the slot off a broken play. The Warriors would add to the lead at even strength when Mike Hardman ringed one in from a sharp angle to make it 2-0. Shots after 1 were 16-15 in favour of the Warriors. Rookie Connor Hopkins closed the gate through the first.

In the middle frame the Cents upped the ante, but couldn’t solve Hopkins. They’d fire 14 shots on net to the Warriors 6, but West Kelowna would come away with the extra goal on the PP. Lucas Bahn would fire one low through a screen that found it’s way past Roden to make it 3-0 heading into the third.

The Cents started to simplify their game in the final frame, and it paid dividends early. Brad Cocca scored from below the goal line, by banking it in off Hopkins who was cheating off the post. Mattias Dal Monte brought the Cents within one with a blast from the right point that deflected in, and Matt Kopperud tied the game by poking the puck across the line on a goal mouth scramble. The Cents would push back to tie it at 3, but that would be as close as they’d come. Parm Dhaliwal and Anthony Bishop answered for the Warriors, then Cavin Tilsley filled the empty net to make it a 6-3 final. Final shots were 51-33.

Assistant Coach Brandon Shaw said after the game that the Cents saw results when they didn’t overthink it.

“When we play a simply game is when we have success, and that’s how we’ve had success all year. We need to focus on a very good Powell River team now.”

With the loss the Cents now slide to 3rd in the Interior Division, just one point up on the West Kelowna Warriors.

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The Merritt Centennials (21-11-1-1) lock swords with the West Kelowna Warriors (20-14-0-1) for the second time in a week.

The Centennials are coming off a great weekend that started with a win against the Warriors 5-4, and continued with success against the Nanaimo Clippers with a 5-1 victory on Teddy Bear Toss night. Christian Sabin set off the bear storm, Joey Berkopec added his 3rd of the season, Brad Cocca tallied his 15th, Matt Kopperud scored and has points in 3 straight, and Nick Wicks converted on a 5-on-3 to propel the Cents to victory. The lone blemish on Austin Roden's night came on a shorthanded breakaway from the Clippers, but Roden picked up both wins on the weekend, and is perfect against the Warriors this season, like the team, at 3-0.

Last week against the Warriors wasn't the one sided offensive tilt that we saw in games at the NVMA, but the Cents found a way to win nonetheless. After a strong starting period, that saw the Cents out to a 3-2 lead after 1 courtesy goals from Matt Kopperud (2), and Vincent Guy, the wind was sucked out of the game with penalties for both teams in the second period and the Warriors crawled back to lead 4-3 after two periods of play. The Cents came storming out of the gate in the third, out shooting West K 17-3 in the final frame and were rewarded by goals from Brendan Schneider and Brett Roloson to win the game 5-4.

Offense will loom large in the match up as it has all season. With scores of 8-4, 8-3, and 5-4 and an average output of 10.6 goals per game, baton down the hatches and prepare for another barn burning effort tonight.

The Centennials would like to extend a congratulations to forward Brad Cocca, on his commitment to Brown University for the 2019-20 season. The Centennials staff and Director of Scouting Brandon Shaw will have their hands full replacing a talented Cents lineup that will have up to 9 players moving on next season.

Brad Cocca paces the Cents offensively with 45 points, and is 3rd in BCHL scoring. Nick Granowicz is looking bust a mini-slump that has seen him held off the score sheet in the last 5 games. He still is hanging in the top 20 in league scoring but has slid to 13th with 38 points. Cents Captain Nick Wicks has been filling the void offensively. is coming off an honorable mention in the BCHL's player of the week, and now has 36 points on the season.

The Warriors have been turning it on offensively this season and are led by forward Mike Hardman who's tied for 1st in the league in goals-scored with 24 and 41 points. Willie Reim is tied with him in points with 41, and Chase Dubois had two goals against the Centennials last week and has 37 points on the season.

The Cents are coming off a rare game where they were perfect on the penalty kill, and will hope for a similar effort against a strong Warriors powerplay:

Powerplay:                                                         Penalty Kill:

WK - 19.6% (5th)                                           WK - 80.1% (11th)

Cents - 16.8% (15th)                                   Cents - 77% (13th)

The goaltending duel sees Austin Roden coming off a pair of wins last weekend, while the Warriors had to use both goalies in the 5-4 game last week. Roden is 14-6 with a .901 SV%, a 3.22 GAA, and 1 shutout. Vincent Duplessis is itching at a return to the crease and is 7-4-2 with a .906 SV% and a 3.21 GAA. Brock Baier surrendered 3 goals on 7 shots and was chased in the last contest. He sits at 10-3 with a .905 SV% and a 3.63 GAA. Rookie Connor Hopkins came in and played well. He is 10-10 with a .909 SV%, a 3.23 GAA, and 1 shutout.

Assistant Coach Brandon Shaw says the proximity of match ups between these two clubs will spell more intensity.

"When you have a game against a rival with not much breathing room in between, it will mean a step up in the bad blood."

The Cents will hope the intensity will propel them to victory tonight.

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

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The Merritt Centennials announced today that forward Bradley Cocca has committed to Brown University for the 2019-20 season.

A native of Mississauga, Ontario, Cocca is having a banner year for himself in the junior hockey ranks. He's played in the OJHL and the USHL, but really started to find success when he came to the Merritt Centennials. Already in his 4th year of junior hockey, Cocca is currently 3rd in BCHL scoring with 15 goals and 30 assists in 34 games which nearly doubles last years total of 23 points in 44 games played.

Already earning a commitment from Harvard for stellar play in Minor Midget Triple A with the Don Mills Flyers, Cocca elected to switch to Brown siting a better fit personally.

"After talking it over with my family, we felt that Brown was the better fit overall. The education was a big factor too, I know I won't play hockey for the rest of my life so I wanted to go somewhere that I'd get the best education possible."

He adds that the staff at Brown has a soft spot for small, skilled forwards.

"Both the assistant coaches at Brown were smaller college hockey players, so I think they saw a bit of themselves in me."

Assistant Coach Brandon Shaw says that any program would be lucky to have Cocca because of the work he puts in academically and on the ice.

"Brad's a competitor, he comes to practice everyday and competes, he shows up for games, and he wants to be a difference maker every single night."

The Centennials still have 9 players committed to NCAA Div. 1 hockey for next season - a club record.

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The BCHL announced their Player of the Week today, and once again a Centennials player was among the honorable mentions.

Captain Nick Wicks is starting to heat up offensively after a week that saw the Cents go 1-2, but Wicks pick up points in all three contests including a natural hat trick. He picked up where he left off by setting up two Cents goals against West Kelowna on Friday in a 5-4 victory, and then scoring a goal, adding an assist, and being named 1st star for his efforts against the Nanaimo Clippers in a 5-1 win on Saturday.

The Delta, BC native has moved into the top 20 in BCHL scoring with 9 goals and 27 assists, and joins 3 other Centennials team mates. Committed to play hockey next year for the University of Alaska Anchorage, Wicks has helped the Centennials move back into a tie for top spot in the Interior Division.

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