The Merritt Centennials are heating up as they head into the post season.
Unbeaten in their last 4 games, a big reason why has been the play of Captain Tyrell Buckley - who's heating up as well.
He earned an honorable mention in the BCHL's Player of the Week award with 3 goals and 2 assists over 3 games last week.
Buckley is 5th on the team in scoring overall with 11 goals and 26 points, and he's 7th in the league in scoring by defensemen with 37 points.
The final week starts tonight against the Trail Smoke Eaters, a makeup game Thursday against Salmon Arm, the home finale against West Kelowna, before the season finale on the road in Langley.
The game went the distance, and neither the Merritt Centennials nor the Victoria Grizzlies had the edge. The Cents were on their heels when the chants of ‘Go Cents Go’ began heading into overtime, and that helped the team push the pace in sudden death despite the game skating to a tie.
In the first frame, Zach Court was set loose on the left side, and as he gained the line found Brendan Schneider who deked towards the net before letting the shot go, Kurtis Chapman got a big piece of it with his glove, but the puck carried on and crossed the goal line to give the Cents the only goal of the first.
The middle stanza saw the Grizzlies tie it up just 3 minutes in. BCHL Player of the Week Jamie Rome cut across the line, and from the high slot wristed one past Austin Roden blocker side. Roden was making his 5th straight start with the Cents searching for their 4th straight win.
4 minutes later with the Cents on their first powerplay, Tyrell Buckley got a deflection off a Grizzlies defenseman to restore the one goal lead after a feed from Nick Wicks and Schneider.
The third period saw the Cents play with fire and get burned by the Grizzlies powerplay, the top unit in the league. TJ Friedman had the marker on the powerplay, after Ethan Nother faked a shot in the high slot and dished it off for a one timer.
The game went to OT where the Cents had the first glorious opportunity. After both teams playing cautious through sudden death, Joey Berkopec went for a skate down the left side, behind the net, out the right side, to the point before he dished to Zach Court who ripped one off the post.
In double OT, it was Roden who robbed Victoria’s Carter Berger after he went for a skate, and after coming back to the point, lost the Cents defenders and was in all alone, and despite his deke Roden stuck with him to keep it tied at 2’s, and that would be how it would end.
After the game, Head Coach Joe Martin said that the fans helped the Cents.
“I thought that towards the end of the game we were tired, but when the fans started up the Go Cents Go chant, that really ignited the team and helped us get back in the game.”
Cents will next play on Tuesday night against the Trail Smoke Eaters at the NVMA.
The Merritt Centennials got an unexpected game off last night, and hope the extra rest can help them prepare for the Victoria Grizzlies who are in town for a matinee contest.
The Grizzlies did the Cents a favour on Friday night, topping the Salmon Arm Silverbacks 3-0, but last night they fell to the West Kelowna Warriors 6-3.
The Grizzlies win, paired with the Cents win over the Chilliwack Chiefs on Friday, set up a collision course with Salmon Arm that was delayed due to weather. But the game against the Chiefs saw both the goaltender and the team show their resilience. Bouncing back from an early goal from the Chiefs just 9 seconds into the game, the Cents scored 2 in the second frame from Wicks and Rylan Van Unen, and despite an early goal in the third to tie the game at twos, Zach Risteau had the game breaker with 7 minutes to go in the 3rd and the Cents added two empty netters to pull out the 5-2 win.
In the only other meeting this season, the Cents rolled over the Grizzlies early with a 4-goal first period on route to a 6-0 win. Chasing starter Zachary Rose, and facing a team without their rookie sensation Alex Newhook who for a time was leading the league in scoring.
The Grizzlies come into this contest on a bit of a roll, in February they were 5-0 before the 6-3 loss against the Warriors, but once again they will be without Newhook who was injured last week against Cowichan Valley. However, Jamie Rome is coming off player of the week honors and has 65 points, Ethan Nother has 54, TJ Friedmann has 52, and Justin Michaelian has 44 points.
The Cents have rallied off 3 straight wins and hope that streak continues. All the big guns have been picking up points lately for the Cents. Nick Wicks now has 41 points, Brendan Schneider has 31, Zach Court has 37, and Zach Risteau has 18 points in the 16 games since rejoining the club.
In special teams the Grizzlies own the top powerplay in the league at 22.3%, while the Cents are now 8th at 19.3%. On the penalty kill, the Cents have the slimmest of margins as they are 6th at 83% and the Grizzlies are 7th at 82.9%.
Austin Roden has been between the pipes for the last three Cents wins, and the coaching staff are riding the hot hand in net, and with the lineups. Expect Roden to start, now 11-10-0-2 with a 92.8 SV%, a 2.50 GAA and 2 shutouts. Roden has the 6th best GAA, and 2nd best SV% in the league.
The Grizzlies rely upon Zachary Rose and Kurtis Chapman in net. Rose is 16-13-0-1 with a 91.8 SV%, a 3.16 GAA and 2 shutouts. Chapman is 10-3-0-2 with a 92.5 SV% and a 2.88 GAA with 2 shutouts.
The Grizzlies are in a battle for first place in the Island Division, the Cents are looking to stay hot as they head into the playoffs.
Puck Drop 2pm, Pre-Game 6:45 with Jared Thomas on Q101.1FM or online at q101.ca.
If you judged the game by the first 10 seconds, you’d think a Chiliwack Chiefs blowout was on the way after an early goal, but the Merritt Centennials and netminder Austin Roden showed their resilience to bounce back in net and on the scoreboard and take the game by a 5-2 final.
The Chilliwack Chiefs scored on their first foray into the zone, a Harrison Blaisdell drive from wide, and his one handed back hander fooled Roden for a goal just9 seconds into the game. Roden recovered to stop the remaining 14 shots of the period, and keep the Cents in the game early.
The second saw the Cents return the favour with a goal in the first minute of play, when Nick Wicks converted on the powerplay. Getting a feed on the backdoor side and letting a wrister rip that rippled the top corner glove side on Mathieu Caron to tie the game 1-1.
The Cents expanded their lead just 5 minutes later with the Wicks back on the ice he found Colten Gerlib at the point, and he walked in and let a shot go that was deflected by Rylan Van Unen in front to give the Cents the 2-1 lead that lasted into the third.
Chilliwack drew level 3 minutes into the third with a backhand in front from Tommy Lee that beat a sprawling Roden just over the glove.
The game remained tied into the final 7 minutes, when Zach Risteau shot down the far side of the ice from his own blue line with speed, he made a defender stutter and blow his coverage at the offensive blue line betore firing a shot on Caron and collecting his own rebound to break the game open and make it 3-2.
The Chiefs pulled their goalie in the final minute to draw level, but off the draw in their own end won by Chase Bell, Tyrell Buckley said his prayers and converted on a hail mary that went the full 200 feet and into the Chiefs empty cage to give the Cents breathing room 4-2. Zach Zorn added another empty netter to make it 5-2.
Roden rebounded to stop 38/40 shots and the Cents won their 3rd game in a row to bring them within 1 point of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks and 6th place in the Interior.
After the game, Head Coach Joe Martin praised Risteau for his play.
“He brings a confidence, and that spreads to the team. The boys feel good knowing that he can go out there, and could score on any shift. He’s a good presence in the room, and has made a difference since we brought him back at the trade deadline.”
The win sets up a monster matchup tomorrow night at the NVMA against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
Puck Drop 7pm, Pre-Game 6:45 with Jared Thomas on Q101.1FM or online at q101.ca.
The Merritt Centennials make their way back to the Prospera Centre for the first time since the BCHL Showcase to take on the Chilliwack Chiefs for the final time this season.
These two teams last met way back on October 18th and it was the Chiefs who pulled away with a 4-2 victory despite early goals from Mathieu Gosselin and Jack Vincent. Kaden Pickering had two goals for the Chiefs, and Skyler Brind'Amour and Jordan Roy added the others for the Chiefs.
A lot has changed since then personnel wise and team mentality wise, but both teams are starting to rebound in February with 3-3 records. The Cents have won 2 in a row and look to make it an official streak with a third win tonight, but the Chiefs are already on a 3 game bounce back after dropping 4 in a row to finish January and into February. Both teams are also still playing for playoff positioning, the Cents only trail Salmon Arm by 3 points, and a win tonight paired with a Grizzlies loss would bring them within one and make the matchup tomorrow mean all the more. The Chiefs are currently in a 3-way tie for 2nd in the Mainland Division, and with Prince George sitting clear in 1st place, teams are trying to avoid finishing as the 4th seed and being forced to travel all the way to PG for round one of the playoffs.
The focus tonight will be a matchup that on paper is very close. Merritt holds the edge in the goals for and against over the season, but the Chiefs do have some offensive weapons including: Captain Will Calverley with 43 points, Tommy Lee with 38, Corey Andonovski with 36, and defenseman Brian Allbee with 30. When you hold the top Cents up in comparison it's much the same: Henry Cleghorn back in the offense with 45 points, Nick Wicks with 39, Zach's Zorn and Court with 37, and D-man Tyrell Buckley with 33. Once again, the edge on paper atleast goes to the Cents.
On special teams, Merritt holds the edge on the powerplay, 8th in the league with 19% while Chilliwack is 12th with a 16.9% conversion rate. The Chiefs have the edge on the penalty kill where they sit third at 85.3%, while the Cents are 7th at 82.8%.
In net, the Chiefs have split duties between Mathieu Caron and Daniel Chenard, but the rookie Caron has been the one picking up the wins - 17-9-0-1 with an 89.3 SV% and a 2.71 GAA. Chenard is 8-15-0-2 with an 8-15-0-2 record, an 89.5 SV%, a 3.04 GAA, and 2 shutouts. Austin Roden has gotten the call for the last 3 games straight and has played great now 10-10-0-2 with a 92.7 SV%, a 2.53 GAA, and 2 shutouts. Jacob Berger should be poised to return to the crease on the weekend with a 12-21-2-0 record, a 90.6 SV%, a 3.41 GAA, and 2 shutouts.
The matchup may look even on paper, and that's why they play the games.
Puck Drop at 7pm from the Prospera Centre, Pre-Game at 6:45 with Jared Thomas on Q101.1FM or online at q101.ca.