The 1st place in the Interior Division Merritt Centennials (11-7) take on their nearest challenger the Penticton Vees (8-5-0-2) tonight.
The Cents are coming off a week where they went 2-1 with wins over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, and a split against the Wenatchee Wild. Last Wednesday the Cents earned their first shutout of the season with stand out play from Austin Roden to win 5-0. In the first of two against the Wild, the Cents overcame a slow start to finish strong. Nick Granowicz put the team on his back during the final frame scoring twice to tie the game and then scoring the game-winner for a hat trick in overtime 4-3. However, in game 2 against the Wild the Cents couldn't get their legs going, were outworked by the Wild, and got shelled 6-1. Head Coach Joe Martin said it was a cautionary tale of what can happen if you don't show up to play.
The Vees have already been in action this week and fell 3-2 in a shootout against the Coquitlam Express. Brendan Harrogate had a two-goal game for the Vees, and Christian Sanda and Chase Danol answered for the Express. Danol was the lone scorer in the shootout, and the Vees suffered their 3rd loss in 5 games.
First periods have been the undoing of the Cents against the Vees. So far this season they have gone 0-2 against Penticton falling 6-3 in late September and 6-2 in mid-October. In both games the Cents have failed to register a goal in the first period and have allowed 7 against. Getting out of the first period in a draw, or within one could be considered a minor victory.
The Cents will continue to rely on their top guns. Brad Cocca is now second in the league with 25 points, Nick Granowicz is 5th league-wide with 23 points, and Mathieu Gosselin is 8th with 20 points.
The Vees are led by David Silye who's 6th in league scoring with 22 points. Eric Linell has 18, and defenseman James Miller provides some scoring from the back end with 14 points this year.
The special teams battle sees the Vees with the edge. They're 12th on the powerplay with a 16.5% conversion rate and 9th on the penalty kill at 82.5%. The Cents penalty kill is improving at 77..2% but are 15th in the league, and with the extra man they're 15.9% for 14th in the league.
In net the Cents are starting to heat up. Roden is 8-4 with a 3.53 GAA and a .893 SV% and 1 shutout. Vincent Duplessis hasn't seen the crease for 5 games as the Cents rode the red hot Roden, but is 3-3 with a 3.57 GAA and a .885 SV%. The Vees are getting solid performances from Jack LaFontaine who is 6-4 with a .915 SV%, a 2.00 GAA and 2 shutouts. Derek Krall is 2-1 with a .902 SV% and a 2.46 GAA.
Head Coach Joe Martin knows that this game could be won or lost in the first period.
"I think the first is important. We've dug deep holes in the last two games against the Vees and haven't been able to get out of them. If we have a strong first we will take it from there."
Tonight fans are encouraged to wear pink to support breast cancer. Everyone who wears pink will get a free entry into a raffle for a one of a kind Cents breast cancer jersey, but fans are also encouraged to buy tickets: 1 for $2 and 3 for $5.
Puck Drop 7pm. Pre-Game 6:45 on Q101.1FM or q101.ca with Jared Thomas.
Another week has gone by, and another Centennials' forward is catching the eyes of the BCHL.
Nick Granowicz has gotten his second Honorable mention of the season during the BCHL's Player of the Week for his efforts last week.
On wednesday night the 20-year old forward from Macomb, Michigan scored a highlight-reel goal by getting behind the 'D', driving the net, and outwaiting the goaltender plus added 2 assists in the Cents 5-0 shutout of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
In the first game of a double-header against the Wenatchee Wild, Granowicz put the team on his back from the third period on scoring twice to tie the game at 3, before stealing a puck at his own blue-line, streaking down the right wing leaving the defenseman in the dust, and then firing a wrister mid-blocker side to win the game for the Centennials and complete the hat trick.
Unfortunately, Granowicz would go pointless in game two of the double-header, a 6-1 loss.
The Cents have now had 6 honorable mentions and 1 BCHL Player of the Week this season.
The Merritt Centennials couldn’t overcome a much more determined Wenatchee Wild team in night two of a double-header down under, and were beaten 6-1.
The Cents started the game with some life in the first, but their efforts were quickly dashed after an ill-advised pinch at the blue line that resulted in a two-on-one on Austin Roden with Matt Gosiewski finishing it off to make it 1-0 just a minute and a half into the game. The second goal of the period went to the Wild as well, a seeing eye shot from the line on a delayed penalty call at the 15 minute mark made it 2-0 after 1. Shots after 1 were 13-10 Wild.
The middle frame didn’t see the Cents come out with much punch, as they were disunited and making mental mistakes. The Wild were able to capitalize scoring two more to make it 4-0, but they got into penalty trouble late in the second and the Cents would make them pay. Brad Cocca converted on a 5-on-3 powerplay for the Cents lone goal with the extra man on the weekend to make it 4-1 after 2. Shots after 2 were 29-18 Wild.
The night before the Cents were able to silent the house in the ‘minute to win it,’ but the Wild fed off the cheers tonight and scored 50 seconds into the frame to make it 5-1. They’d add another on the powerplay to make it a 6-1 final handing the Cents their most lopsided loss of the season. Roden stopped 35/41 in the loss. Austin Park stopped 27/28 for the Wild who snapped the Cents win streak at 4.
After the game, Head Coach Joe Martin said it was a reminder of what can happen if you take a night off in the Interior Division.
“I don’t think our team thinks they can coast to victory, but tonight proved what can happen if you decide to not give it your all. You don’t lost by a little, you lose by a lot.”
The Cents will hope to recapture the form that saw them win 4 in a row when they face the Vees on Friday night.
The 1st in the Interior Division Merritt Centennials (11-6) will complete the double header against the 6th in the Interior Division Wenatchee Wild (6-6-2) tonight.
Last night saw the Cents survive a frustrating first 20. They couldn't get the puck out of their own zone, they couldn't complete a clean pass, they couldn't stick handle around the Wenatchee defense without having the puck poked off their stick by the active twigs of the Wild and thrown back into the Cents defensive end. Austin Roden stood tall in that first period making many key saves throughout, and despite only 10 shots getting thrown on net, it felt like 50 for a team that just couldn't get going offensively. Roden would allow one in the first frame and the Cents would be lucky to just be trailing 1-0. In the second, the Wild continued to frustrate, but the Cents started to get their legs as the period went on, and after the Wild widened the margin to 2-0 the Cents would climb back. Nick Wicks danced across the offensive blue line, skated across the ice, and then made a return course before dropping the puck on a platter for Mike Van Unen who sniped it glove high to cut the lead in half at 2-1. Then in the third the Cents offense came to life, and Nick Granowicz led the way. He silenced the house during their rowdy 'minute to win it' in the first minute of the third. The Wild would quickly regain their lead, but Granowicz would tie things up again by converting on a 2-on-1 play with Rylan Van Unen. That would send the game to overtime tied at threes, and would be the Cents first trip into the extra frame. As if by fate Nick Granowicz had a steal at his own blue line, flew down the right side of the ice, and then sniped one on Austin Park blocker-side for the game winner. The win was the Cents 4th in a row, and Austin Roden has started all four wins for the team.
The Wild have now lost 4 of the last 5, however, 2 of those games have been in overtime. They had numerous opportunities with their constant pressure early on in the game, but we will see how both teams adapt in a back-to-back situation.
The Cents continue to be led by Brad Cocca up front with 24 points, but with a monster 3 goal game Nick Granowicz moves into 3rd in league scoring with 23 points. Goose, Wicks, and Schneider all have spots in the top 20 with 20, 17, and 17 points each. Mike Van Unen and Jaydon Fetter represent the Centennials in the scoring race for D-men. Van Unen now has 3 goals and 10 points while Fetter has 9 assists as they look to break into the top 10.
The Wild had another strong game from their Captain Lucas Sowder who continues to be their top point producer with 16 points. Christophe Fillion has 13, and then they have 4 players tied with 12 points.
The special teams battle saw the penalty kill win out last night as both teams went 0-for. The Cents went 0/3 and the Wild went 0/4, but to the Cents credit they only had one complete 2 minute advantage. The Wild slide to 5th on the powerplay with a 20.6% conversion rate, while the Cents slide to 13th at 16%. The penalty kill got a bump, and the Cents are above 75% now at 76.1% for 15th in the league. The Wild are 11th at 79.6%. If a team can win the special teams battle tonight it could spell the difference.
The Cents have ridden Austin Roden to four wins in a row, and they'll look to do the same tonight. He's now 3rd in the league in wins with a 8-3 record with one shutout and continues to improve his stats, now at a 3.30 GAA and a .897 SV%. Vincent Duplessis will have to wait and be sharp when his opportunity comes between the pipes. He's 3-3 with a .875 SV% and a 3.57 GAA. Austin Park is now 4-4 with an .876 SV% and a 2.94 GAA with one shutout. Cal Sandquist could get the start in a back-to-back situation and is 2-4 with a .862 SV% and a 3.13 GAA.
Head Coach Joe Martin said the Cents will have to be wary of the Wild forecheck if they want to take 2/2 in Wenatchee.
"They really had us pegged in that first period. Winning two in a row against the same team is tough, so we will have to come back harder and stronger if we want to win again."
The Cents will hope to win again, and extend their current win streak to a season high 5 in a row.
Puck Drop 7pm. Pre-Game 6:45 on Q101.1FM or online at Q101.ca with Jared Thomas.
The Merritt Centennials put a forgettable first period in the rearview, continued to improve, and rode Nick Granowicz to a 4-3 win in OT against the Wenatchee Wild for their 4th win in a row.
The Cents overcame a poor start where just everything seemed to be going wrong. They couldn't complete a clean pass, they couldn't get out of the zone, and the allow one to AJ Hodges but escape the period just down one in large part to the play of Austin Roden in net. The shot totals were only 10-6 after 1, but they felt a lot more lopsided with the zone time the Wild had.
In the second period, the Cents started to find some form offensively, but not before the Wild added another one 4-on-4 with Captain Lucas Sowder doing the damage. At the 13:21 mark, Captain Nick Wicks would dance across the offensive blue line cut across the ice, and then cut back and drop off a gift for Mike Van Unen that he blasted top corner to cut the lead in half. Shots after 2 were 26-17.
The final frame saw the Cents come out determined. Nick Granowicz silence the Wild crowd in the 'minute to win it' where the crowd goes absolutely insane, holding his hand to his ear afterward and taunting the crowd. The Wild would quickly regain the lead at the 3 minute mark when Nathan Iannone potted a rebound to the side of the net past Roden. But Granowicz would back up his taunt by finishing off a 2-on-1 rush to tie the game back at 3. The Cents and Wild wouldn't solve anything in the final minutes, and for the first time the Cents headed to OT.
In overtime, the Cents had the early chances, then had to weather a Wild storm around the net. As if fated, Nick Granowicz had a steal at his own blue line and then blew past the Wild defenders to stare down Austin Park 1-on-1 and Granowicz would snipe it blocker-side to vault the Cents to a 4-3 victory.
Austin Roden stopped 37/40 shots for his and the Cents fourth win in a row.
The Cents and Wild will do it all over again tomorrow night from the Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee. Puck Drop 7pm.