Merritt Centennials
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The setting was different, but the story line and the score line were eerily similar as the Vees topped the Cents for the third time this season by a score of 4-2. 

The first period belonged to the goaltenders Jacob Berger and Nolan Hildebrand. Neither allowed one past them, and neither team converted on their powerplay chances. The Vees went 0/2 while the Cents went 0/1. Berger made 13 stops while Hildebrand made 6. 

The second period was a goaltending clinic by Berger as he stopped 16 shots in the frame to keep his team in it while Brad Cocca got his first in the BCHL, first of the season, and first of the game for either side. He skated off the half wall, dished to Munro at the point, got the return pass, and put a shot low glove on Hildebrand that got through. Despite the Cents only putting another 6 shots on net, they came out of the second with the crucial one goal lead. 

The Vees came to life in the third period. After killing off a penalty that carried over from the second, they went to the powerplay, but when Jackson Munro made a pinch at the right point, Owen Sillinger banked it off the boards, streaked past him and was off to the races on a 2-on-0 with Grant Cruikshank, and dished across to get one short handed. The Cents still had a minte and a half of powerplay time, and were able to get back on the board after a weak shot from Joey Berkopec made it's way through, and Rylan Van Uned got the rebound to go, regaining the one goal lead 2-1. It didn't last long as not even a minute later, Jonny Tychonik led a rush down the right wing, dished to the middle, and Massimo Rizzo took a shot, and batted in his own rebound. Then at the 5 minute mark of the third, Ryan Sandelin wristed a shot by Berger from the left dot over the glove side giving the Vees their first lead of the game, and they hung on until the final minute of the third when Dakota Boutin got the empty netter. 

After the game, Head Coach Joe Martin said the team lost it's focus. 

"We had a great first two periods, but to begin that third we lost our focus and against a team like this you just can't do that."

The Cents will look to regain their focus on Saturday night when they visit the Salmon Arm Silverbacks at the Shaw Centre. Puck Drop at 7pm, Pre Game at 6:45 with Jared Thomas on Q101.1 FM, q101.ca, or the Q101 Merritt App. 

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The Cents hit the road once again for a two game swing this weekend, and the first stop on the tour is the South Okanagan Events Centre where they'll face the now defeated Vees. 

The Vees are coming off their first loss of the season, a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Langley Rivermen on Wednesday night. The Cents are coming off a loss of their own as they were doubled up by the Chiefs on Wednesday 4-2. Both teams will be looking to get back to the winning ways. 

This will be the third matchup of the season between these two clubs, with Penticton sweeping the season series so far. They won the season opener 4-2, and won by the skin of their teeth last Friday at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena 3-2 in overtime. The Cents led for a large portion of that game, after going scoreless in the first period, the Cents got a goal midway through the second, and added another midway through the third before the Vees got two late to tie it, and the dagger in overtime to win it. Both teams will be using that game as motivation, the Cents for hanging onto a lead, and the Vees to not allow it to get that late in a game before coming back. 

The Vees are only 3 points out of top spot in the Interior Division and the league with 17 points despite playing 4 fewer games than the division leading Warriors and Vipers. The Cents are 4 points back of Salmon Arm for 6th in the Interior Division, and would love to get a win to get back in the race of the standings. The Cents currently sit 15th in the league, remembering that the top 16 teams in the league make the playoffs. 

The Cents couldn't convert on the powerplay against the Chiefs, but their penalty kill numbers continue to improve and are now above 82% on the season. The Vees hold one of the best powerplays in the league at 21.6%, and got the key tying goal last friday on the powerplay. 

Head Coach Joe Martin said that despite the Vees losing against the Rivermen it won't be an easy outing. 

"They may have lost, but they're still a good team and they'll want to get right back at it. We have to focus on our game." 

The Cents will focus on getting the win tonight at the South Okanagan Events Centre. Puck drop at 7 and Pre Game at 6:45 with Jared Thomas on Q101.1 FM, q101.ca, or the Q101 Merritt App. 

 

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The Chilliwack Chiefs came into Merritt to take on the Centennials last night, and ended up riding an offensive outburst in the second period to beat the Cents 4-2. 

The Cents got the start they were looking for, courtesy a good feed from Mike Van Unen up to Matthieu Gosselin who burst away from the defense on a breakaway, but left himself enough room to beat Matthieu Caron with a deke in tight that had just enough to get across the line and give the Cents a 1 goal lead. Jacob Berger fresh off of his BCHL Player of the Week honors, was perfect in the first stopping all 9 shots he faced, while Caron allowed one past him on the 9 he faced. 

The second didn't start well for the Cents as just 50 seconds in Kaden Pickering picked the top corner glove side on Berger with a shot that came off the stick with enough velocity to bounce in and out of the net to tie it 1-1. Jack Vincent regained the lead for the Cents on a penalty shot after getting slashed on his was in on Caron. On the penalty shot he started left cutting to his right on a backhand move before dragging the puck across his toes to the forehand, completely leaving Caron out to lunch and was able to tuck it in while he was guessing the wrong way. However, that didn't give the Cents life, Skyler Brind'Amour was able to score not even a minute later on a deflection to tie the game for the Chiefs 2-2, before Jonathan Roy beat Berger up glove high to give the Chiefs their first lead 3-2 with 8 minutes left in the second. 

The Cents came back to life in the third, but couldn't take advantage of 4 powerplay opportunities and couldn't get another marker. The Chiefs weren't able to convert on their chances either as both teams were snake bitten with the man advantage. The Chiefs did get a late 2 goal margin courtesy Pickering's second goal of the night on a wrap around. 

After the game, Head Coach Joe Martin said the team lost it's way in the 2nd period. 

"We stopped skating in the second period, and we end up spending 8 minutes in the penalty box, that's 8 minutes where you're solely defending, and it doesn't leave enough time to get into the game."

The Cents will look to rebound when they face the Penticton Vees who are coming off their first loss of the season, and will be looking to get right back to their winning ways. Puck drop at 7 from the South Okanagan Events Centre, Pre Game at 6:45 on Q101.1 FM, q101.ca or the Q101 Merritt app with Jared Thomas.  

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On a rare Wednesday night game, the Cents welcome the third place team from the Mainland Division, the 5-6-1-1 Chilliwack Chiefs. 

Last season, the Chiefs swept the season series by a combined score of 8-4. Winning 4-3 in Merritt, and 4-1 in their home rink. In the preseason, the Chiefs defeated the Cents 2-1 in Double OT on a 4-3 powerplay. However, It's the first of two matchups this season, the second matchup won't go until mid February when the Cents will visit the Chiefs at the Prospera Centre. 

The Chiefs come in to this one trending in the right direction. After a September to forget where they went 1-5-1-1, they've managed to turn things around with the flipping of the calendar, going 4-1 to start October. The Cents are starting to trend back in the right direction, and are 2-1-2-0 in October with two tough losses in overtime last week, before getting the win against the Wild.

The Chiefs are led offensively by Will Calverly, Corey Andonovski, and Tommy Lee offensively all with over 10 points, but Calverly is the only Chief with over a point per game.  Now the Cents can boast a player who's scored more than 10 points with Nick Wicks reaching 11 after a goal and assist effort against the Wenatchee Wild, setting up Tyrell Buckley for the game winner. 

The Centennials have seen a healthy bump to the special teams numbers after a great performance in Wenatchee in which they were perfect on the powerplay and penalty kill. They now sit 14th in the league, one spot behind Chilliwack, with a 15.8% conversion rate on the powerplay, and are now over 80 percent on the penalty kill with a 81.4% kill rate. Conversely, the Chiefs are 16.4% with the extra man, and are 8th in the league on the penalty kill with 82.6%. 

Head Coach Joe Martin says that despite seeing the Chiefs in the preason, that won't be part of the game plan. 

"The focus will be on us, we'll talk a little bit about what they do well as a team, but the focus will be on us and what we're trying to do as a team and getting better everyday."

The Cents will continue their quest to get better when the Chiefs come to the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena tonight. Puck drop at 7, Pre Game at 6:45 with Jared Thomas. Listen live at Q101.1 FM, stream on q101.ca, or take the game with you on the Q101 Merritt App.  

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Jacob Berger was an honourable mention earlier this season, but now the honour is all his. After a week in which he stopped 121 of 129 shots, backstopped the Cents to a win and two overtime losses, Berger has been named the BCHL's Player of the Week. 

Berger now is 4-6-2-0 with the most minutes seen of any goaltender in the league. He has a save percentage of .914 and a goals against average of 3.13. He's been forced into an increased workload due to the injury of Vincent Duplessis, and continues to perform at a top level. 

Head Coach Joe Martin says that Berger is one of the biggest competitiors on the club. 

"Jake expects himself to be great, and I don't think there's a goal out there that Jake doesn't think he can make a save on. He'll be good for us every night he plays."

The next opportunity for Berger to make his league leading 13th start will be tomorrow night against the visiting Chilliwack Chiefs. 

 

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