The Merritt Centennials took some time away from the rink to get to know their teammates better this week.
The team building trip took place in Little Shushwaps Indian Band's Pow Wow grounds from Monday to Wednesday, and the team was able to forget about what can be the high stress situation of making the Centennials roster.
Head coach and General Manager Joe Martin says that the team had a number of activities lined up.
"It's a chance to get to know people on a different level and have some fun. We played some baseball, white water rafting."
Martin also mentioned that the purpose of the trip was to bring the game of hockey back to it's roots.
"Even though it's a difficult time of year for these young men, it still should be enjoyable with what they're going through. So that's what we tried to do, bring it back to the roots of having some fun."
We will see if the Cents carry over their team building to preseason action against the visiting Chilliwack Chiefs on Friday night.
The Merritt Centennials faced the West Kelowna Warriors for the second time in two nights. The Warriors won the opener, and on Saturday night in front of a healthy host of home fans, the Centennials couldn't convert on their chances and fell 5-1 to West Kelowna.
The first period was even through the first 5 minutes with both teams trading chances, but against the flow of play on a counter attack defender Bryon Moradshadi of the Warriors was able to streak down the wing and get a shot on the Cents Jake Berger who kicked it out and onto the stick of a streaking Jared Marino who put the puck into the net for the 1-0 lead.
The Warriors added a goal late, when a bobble by the Cents defense allowed Willie Reim to gather the puck in tight, and he made a nice move backhand-forehand to slip it through the 5-hole of Berger for the 2-0 lead, and that's how the 1st ended.
The West Kelowna Warriors used a 27-save performance by Nik Amundrud and a five-goal outburst for a 5-1 victory over the Merritt Centennials on Saturday night at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.
The Cents didn't start the second period as they drew it up in the dressing room, as the Warriors pounced twice within the first minute of play to make it 3-0. Tyler Jutting wired a shot past Berger's glove, and just 27 seconds later RJ Murphy received a cross ice pass and went five hole on Berger to make it 4-0.
The Warriors got their work done during the early goings of the period, and the score remained at 3-0 after 40 minutes of play. Halfway through the period there was a goaltending change. Berger allowed 4 goals on 26 shots, and his counterpart for the Warriors, Nik Amundrud, was perfect in his action stopping all 27 shots he faced. Berger gave way to Jon Holloway, and Amundrud left the net to Billy Girard for the remainder of the game.
In the 3rd, the Centennials came out with a bit more energy, but still surrendered the first goal of the period. Bennett Norlin managed to beat Holloway, blocker side, to put the Warriors up 5-0.
The Cents responded just a minute later when Blake Sidoni had a text book screen in front, and managed to deflect a Jackson Munro point shot up and over Girard for the lone tally for the Cents to make it 5-1. Shortly after, Sidoni made a move in tight that went off the crossbar and out, and was amongst the strongest Cents on the ice. Despite not finding the back of the net, Alex Bourhas was a bulldog on the ice always going after the puck with intent and pace. Holloway finished the game with 11 saves on 12 shots.
After the game, Head Coach and General Manager Joe Martin said that in a game like this it gives them a good read on who has a heartbeat out there against the odds.
"You're looking for guys when it's not going your way to somehow change the game in your favour... you have to show something. You're looking for guys like that, not guys that go out there and cave. The positive thing is, it helped us make some decisions."
The Cents are now 1-2-0-0 in the Preseason and will next face the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on Wednesday, August 30th for a rematch after topping them 7-4 in the first preseason match earlier this week.
The Merritt Centennials fought valiantly over 3 periods last night. Despite getting out to the early lead, and carrying that through most of the game. The West Kelowna Warriors managed to come back and secure a victory by a score of 4-3 over the Cents in exhibition play yesterday night at Royal LePage Place.
The Cents opened the scoring with the lone goal of the first period. Jack Vincent, who's looked impressive so far through camp and preseason, sped down the right wing and found Mitch Ledyard back door who made no mistake to put Merritt in front.
Vincent Duplessis got the start for the Centennials and proved to be good yet again, stopping all eight shots he faced in the first. On the other end, Billy Girard stopped 9 of the 10 shots he faced for the Warriors.
In the second period, the teams traded goals. The Centennials got one early with Frazer Dodd deflecting a Jake Berry shot five hole on Girard to make it 2-0, but the Warriors answered shortly after with a nice passing play finished by Willie Reim to cut the lead in half at 2-1.
The third period saw the Cents get into a bit of penalty trouble as they surrendered a goal on a 5-on-3 at the midway point of the period. Warriors veteran Jake Harrison was able to slap a one-timer past Jordan Naylor who came in for 3rd period duty, and just 13 seconds later Harrison was able to beat Naylor again with a good move in tight. In a short span, the West Kelowna Warriors had their first lead 3-2.
The Cents managed to answer towards the late stages of the game with Ledyard getting his second goal of the game, a one-timer from the right face-off dot to even things up at 3, but again the Warriors responded quickly as Chase Dubois pounced on a broken play and was able to beat Naylor to makeit 4-3, the eventual final.
Merritt saw strong performances by Vincent, Dodd, Ledyard (2), and Duplessis once again. Duplessis stopped 17 of 18 shots before giving way to Naylor in the third who made 9 saves on 12 shots.
Merritt heads back home for a redemption game tonight at 7pm at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena. Tickets 5 dollars at the door.
Centennials veteran forward will play at a different university than originally thought.
Zach Court announced today on his personal twitter account that he has committed to play college hockey at a different university.
Originally, Zach Court was scheduled to join the University of Nebraska-Omaha this season, but he decided to forgo his first season with the club to return to the Merritt Centennials. Since rejoining the Cents, Court has looked great in camp and the preseason. Every time he's touches the puck, you notice his speed and poise with it. However, he has just earlier this afternoon announced that he will be committing to play his college hockey at the University of Alask-Anchorage for the Sea Wolves for the 2018-19 season..
Last year, Court managed to tally 11 goals and 23 points in 57 games. Injuries kept him limited to 4 games in the post season where he contributed 1 point.
The Merritt Centennials began their 45th Anniversary season on the right foot by beating the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. Keeping to his word Head Coach and General Manager Joe Martin played a lineup of mainly Centennials hopefuls with the exception of veteran Zach Court.
Despite the lack of experienced BCHLers, the Centennials did just fine. They managed to topple the Silverbacks 7-4.
The first period started with penalties. Timber Lewis of the Silverbacks was the first player to go to the box less than two minutes into the game. The Cents couldn't convert and ended up going shorthanded minutes later when Connor Bowey went off for a minor for head contact and a ten minute misconduct. Blake Sidoni, who looked good throughout main camp, continued to impress by scoring the first goal of the Cents preseason.It was a nifty play where he got the puck in tight after a turnover at the line, managed to pull it to the back hand and tuck it between the legs of Pelletier. The Cents killed off another penalty before the Silverbacks' Trey Thomas tied things up after skating onto a bank pass, pulling it backhand, and chopping it past Jordan Naylor glove side.
In the second period the Cents came to life. The period started slowly with each team taking two minor penalties before newcomer Ashton Stockie was the recipient of a beautiful passing play on the power play. Kevan McBean slid a hard pass up the near side wall, and Mitchell Gove gave the perfect one touch, poke pass ahead to Stockie who gathered the puck and went bar down on Pelletier to make it 2-1. That's how things ended heading into the BCHL Media time out. Naylor finished with 13 saves on 14 shots, and Pelletier finished with 13 saved on 15 shots. After the timeout is when the Cents goalscorers came to life. Fraser Dodd added a goal after a nice passing play with Mitch Gove, then within a minute Sidoni scored his second of the game to make it 4-1. The Silverbacks tried to grab back the momentum by scoring against the flow of play to make it 4-2, but the Cents just kept rolling. Alex Bourhas got credit for the goal, after a Christian Siban shot went off both posts and out before Bourhas finished off the play, and then Dodd was the recipient of a beautiful pass from behind the net from Sidoni to make it 6-2 after 40 minutes of play. The shots were 24-17 for the Cents at that point.
The third period saw the Cents come back to earth a little bit. Bar Lev-Wise scored for the Silverbacks to make it 6-3 early in the 3rd, but then Court did yeoman's work on an ensuing powerplay bowling over a player while he had the puck, returning to his feet, turning over the puck, and then finding Sabin with a cross ice feed that was finished beautifully to make it 7-3. The Cents got into a bit of penalty trouble in the third, with Court and Peakman going to the box within a minute of eachother, but the Centennials managed to kill off the 5 on 3 advantage and go perfect on the special teams throughout the game. Harley Bootsma added a late goal for the Silverbacks to get the score to 7-4.
After the game, Martin said the will to win was there, the boys were enjoying the game, but some hard decisions regarding trimming the roster will have to be made tomorrow.
"Think we let go about 8 this morning, and we're at the low 40's and by tomorrow we want to get to the low 30's, so 10 to 12 is probably the number we'll have to let go."
Looking forward to Friday's contest Martin says the team needs to work on making the right plays.
"We have some structure that we want to improve upon, but you want to start creating good habits at the start of the season. Hockey players are creatures of habit, and you need to instill those in practice and carry them over into the game."
The next pre-season game goes on Friday on the road at 7pm against the West Kelowna Warriors.