Merritt Centennials
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The Merritt Centennials stormed back from a 2-0 deficit with 5 unanswered goals to win 5-2 over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. 

The first period started slow for the Merritt Centennials. Matthew Verboon scored 4:17 into the game on a goal mouth scramble to give the Silverbacks the early lead. The Cents would get a two-man advantage mid-way through the frame, but weren't able to make much happen and the Silverbacks would get a break shorthanded and Verboon would add another. Vincent Duplessis got the start and surrendered 2 goals in the first on 12 shots while Ethan Langenegger stopped all 10 shots he faced. 

The Cents came out as a different team to start the second. With an early powerplay opportunity, Head Coach Joe Martin opted to switch things up putting the energy line of Vincent Guy, Frazer Dodd and Daniel Tkac on with Mattias Dal Monte and Talon Zakall on the point. The gamble paid off as Dal Monte kept it alive at the line, Tkac found Dodd behind the net and he would stuff it short side on Langenegger to get the Cents into the game with new life. It didn't take the Cents long to tie things up as under a minute later Captain Nick Wicks would score on the rush to make it 2-2. The Captain of the Centennials wasn't done there as he'd finish off a gorgeous passing play with Mathieu Gosselin and Brad Cocca in front to make it 3-2, and then finish off a natural hat trick with a spin around shot top corner to make it 4-2. A scary moment occured before the Cents gained the lead as Frazer Dodd was hit heavily behind the play. Dodd would go to the tunnel bleeding, and shaky on his feet, and wouldn't come back to the game. Shots after a Cents dominated 2nd period were 34-20.

The final frame saw the Cents hang on and add some late insurance from Christian Sabin into the empty net. Final Shots were 47-30, and Duplessis and the Cents get back to the win column by a score of 5-2. The powerplay went 1/6, and while the Cents weren't shut out this weekend with the extra man, thay went 2/13. 

After the game Coach Martin really gave credit to the players. 

"There wasn't much said after the first. We talked long after the game last night, and earlier today. The players knew what they had to do, and they had a great second period."

With the win the Cents will remain in a tie for 2nd in the Interior Division with the Wenatchee Wild, but still trail the Penticton Vees by 3 points. 

Look out for the Centennials as they go door to door on Sunday from 10-4 looking for donations for the Food Bank.  

Next up the West Kelowna Warriors next Friday in West K. 

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The Merritt Centennials hope a return home will mean a return to the win column against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. 

The Cents are coming off a hard fought 3-2 loss against the Vernon Vipers. A game in which they were the ones who pushed the pace, but fell victim to the counterattack. That was the case in the first goal of the game when Connor Marritt was sprung for a breakaway at the end of a Cents powerplay and beat starter Austin Roden blocker-side. The teams traded powerplay goals in the second period with Christian Sabin scoring on a deflection in front, something the Centennials should try to do more often with the extra man. In the third, the Cents had numerous opportunities to beat Aiden Porter including a 40 second 5-on-3 advantage, but they couldn't quite get the equalizer trailing 2-1. Alex Swetlikoff would spread the margin to 3-1 when he broke in with speed, and outworked a Centennials d-man for a shot low that baffled Roden to make it 3-1. The Cents responded quickly when Brady Ziemer scored his second of the season simply by throwing it on net from the half-wall. The Cents will hope to learn some lessons from the styles of goals they scored last night, and take it into their home match up with the Silverbacks. 

The Silverbacks should come in angry after getting thumped by the now 2nd place in the Interior Division Wenatchee Wild. They lost the game 8-3 and never got a sniff of control throughout. The 'Backs got goals from Unruh, Krahn, and Hirose in the loss. 

The season series will conclude tonight, and the Centennials will look to finish with a dominating 5-1 record with a win. They only dropped the season opener at the Shaw Centre and have since come back with 4 straight wins against Salmon Arm. However, the last 2 games have been very tightly contested - a 3-2 win in Salmon Arm, and a 4-3 overtime win last weekend at the NVMA. The Cents scored three goals in the first period from Payton Matsui (2), and Brad Cocca shorthanded before the Silverbacks worked their way back in the game and tied it with 5 minutes remaining in the third. Jackson Munro delivered the Cents to victory in OT with a shot top corner glove side on Ethan Langenegger. 

The Cents are going through a bit of a rough patch offensively as their top guns haven't gotten on the scoreboard at the same pace fans have been accustomed to. Brad Cocca is now 5th in the league with 41 points, Nick Granowicz is 7th with 38, and Mathieu Gosselin is 16th with 34 points. 

The Silverbacks are led by Matthew Verboon with 26 points, Trevor Adams with 21, and Noah Wakeford with 20 points. 

The special teams battle sees the Silverbacks with the edge. The Cents scored once on seven opportunities last night with the extra man. 

Powerplay:                          Penalty Kill: 

Backs - 18.3% (12th)          Backs - 81.3% (8th)

Cents - 16.6% (14th)          Cents - 76.5% )14th)

In net both Cents goalies are coming off a loss and will look to return to the win column tonight. Vincent Duplessis is 6-4-2 with a .904 SV% and a 3.30 GAA. Austin Roden is now 12-6 with a .901 SV%, a 3.30 GAA, and 1 shutout. Matthew Armitage is 3-3 since joining the Silverbacks from the Red Deer Rebels and has a .924 SV%, a 2.71 GAA, and 1 shutout. Ehtan Langenegger is 9-10 with a .902 SV% and a 3.37 GAA. 

Head Coach Joe Martin knows that the Silverbacks always present a challenge. 

"Games with this team are always physical, always tight checking, and usually pretty close, so we will need to really focus on ourselves tomorrow night if we want to come away with the win."

Fans in attendance tonight are encouraged to bring a donation to the food bank, and be warned that Centennials and volunteers will be collecting donations throughout Merritt from 10-4 tommorrow for the Hockey with Heart Food Drive. Tonight there's also a chance to win a $100 gift card, so be in attendance and talk to Deb at the Chuck-a-Puck table to win. 

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

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The Cents pushed the pace, and had great stretches throughout the game, but they fell victim to the counterattack against the Vernon Vipers and fell 3-2 in regulation.

In the first period the Cents were outshooting the Vipers 6-1 when on the tail end of a powerplay, an ill-advised cross ice pass was picked off and played ahead to Connor Marritt who beat Austin Roden mid-blocker side for the 1 goal lead. After the goal the Vipers seized momentum and ended up out shooting the Cents in the first 8-6. The Cents couldn’t solve Aiden Porter in the first.

The middle frame saw the teams trade powerplay goals. The Vipers would strike first on a beautiful tic-tac-toe play on the rush. Jagger Williamson found Jesse Landsdell streaking to the net, who passed it to Matt Kowalski back-door to make it 2-0. The Cents would get within one on a shot from Mike Van Unen from the point on the powerplay that was deflected by Christian Sabin in front for his 7th of the season. A scary moment came in the 2nd when Jesse Landsdell caught Nick Granowicz up high with a hit. Despite being predatory in nature, Granowicz got to his feet quickly, but Landsdell was only assessed a 2 minute minor and a misconduct and would come back in the third. Shots after 2 were tied at 18.

In the final period, the Cents came out with a push, and drew a couple penalties to give them a 5-on-3 advantage, but couldn’t convert on the powerplay. The Cents were trying to be a little too cute with the puck, stick handling all over the zone, no-look back passes, and not many shots. Alex Swetlikoff would extend the Vipers lead by beating a defender outside, and then driving to the net with a shot that beat Roden to the far side post to make it 3-1. Shortly after Brady Ziemer would bring the Cents back within one by just throwing it on net from the half-wall and it found it’s way top corner. The Cents needed more plays like Ziemer’s in a game that the Vipers were collapsing to the net, but in the final 1:33 with the net empty they didn’t show enough desperation, and looked lackadaisical and didn’t find the equalizer. Final shots were 29-22 in favour of the Cents. Porter stopped 27/29 while Roden stopped 19/22.

After the game Head Coach Joe Martin said that the Cents need to simplify their game.

“We need to get back to our game plan, and that isn’t doing it on your own. Our best line was our energy line of Roloson, Dodd, and Ward and they had the least ice-time. The rest of the team needs to take notice.”

The Cents will hope that a return home will provide the tonic they need to get back in the win column against a Salmon Arm team that is coming off an 8-3 loss to the now streaking Wenatchee Wild.  

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Call it a fairy tale ending and beginning for Mathieu 'The Goose' Gosselin as he has committed to Clarkson University for the 2019-20 season.

Hailing from Quebec City, the Goose will be trading in his wings for armour as he's set to join the Golden Knights in Northern New York and play in the NCAA's Division 1 Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC). Gosselin has had a break out year for the Cents scoring 14 goals and adding 20 assists for 34 points in 30 games in his second season with the Merritt Centennials. Last year as a rookie in the BCHL, Gosselin collected 33 points through 53 games.

Gosselin says that he had a number of teams courting him through the committal process but decided on Clarkson because of the fit on the ice and in the classroom.

"I think I will have a good opportunity there on the hockey side, but it's a good school academically and they have the programs I want to go into."

Head Coach Joe Martin saw something special in Gosselin last season, and knew he could blossom if given the opportunity.

"You could tell he was talented, and smart, has that elite level skill, and you knew with time his body would catch up with his brain."

With the commitment the Cents now have 9 players that will go on to Div. 1 schools in the NCAA in the future, the most ever in a single season.

 

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The Merritt Centennials will look to shake off some road rust as they take on the Vernon Vipers tonight. 

The Cents are coming off a 3-1 loss in Prince George and their previous road trip was a long one to Trail where they fell 2-1 in overtime. Needless to say the offense has been hard to come by as teams are focusing in on the Cents top scoring threats in Brad Cocca, Nick Granowicz, and Mathieu Gosselin. Prince George was able to get out to an early start in the first scoring on a goal mouth scramble, a rush on the powerplay, and an off-speed back hand on a partial break away. After 1, Prince George was in the driver seat up 3-0 and they had chased Vincent Duplessis from the net after he allowed 3 goals on 15 shots. Austin Roden came into the net, and stood on his head in relief stopping all 29 shots he faced, making big stops when the Cents were pushing for the comeback. Mathieu Gosselin broke Logan Neaton's goose egg in the third, but the Cents couldn't muster any more offense. 

The Cents get ready to take on the Vernon Vipers and lead the season series 2-1. The team's exchanged 5-2 wins in each other's barns early in the season, and the most recent match up came earlier in November where the Cents edged the Vipers 4-3 at home. The Cents never trailed in the game, but the Vipers were always quick to tie it. Matt Kopperud, Christian Sabin, Nick Wicks, and Nick Granowicz tallied for the Cents, and tonight will mark the return of Matt Kopperud from a 4-game suspension for a high hit against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. 

The Vipers are coming off a weekend split. They were shutout against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on home ice, but then shutout the Trail Smoke Eaters the following night. Jesse Landsdell had the lone goal for the Vipers on the weekend, as they continue to struggle to put pucks in the net. They have an even goal differential and have scored 79, while allowing 79. The 79 goals for ranks 13th in the league, but the 79 against is 3rd best. The Cents are at the other end of the spectrum, their 114 goals for is 2nd best in the league, but their 102 goals against has them in 13th position. 

The Cents got contributions from Nick Wicks and Mathieu Gosselin on the scoreboard on Wednesday, but Brad Cocca still leads the way with 41 points. Nick Granowicz has fallen to 5th with 38 points, and Mathieu Gosselin is 13th with 34 points. The Cents could be in tough during December if both Brad Cocca and Mathieu Gosselin succeed in making it onto Team Canada West for the World Junior A Challenge. They have both been invited to camp next week. 

The Vipers are defender Jack Judson with 21 points, then they have Josh Latta, Captain Jagger Williamson, and Matt Kowalski all tied with 19 points. 

The special teams battle sees the Vipers with the edge, although in the last match the Cents went 3/5 and the Vipers went 0/4. 

Powerplay:                                                 Penalty Kill: 

Vipers - 19.5% (6th)                              Vipers - 80.7% (11th)

Cents - 16.7% (15th)                            Cents - 76.5% (15th)

In net the Cents are coming off a game where both goalies saw action. Vincent Duplessis shouldered the loss and stopped 12/15. He is now 6-4-2 with a .904 SV% and a 3.30 GAA. Austin Roden saw relief duty and stopped 29/29 and is now 12-5 with a .901 SV%, a 3.32 GAA, and 1 shutout. The Vipers have been getting solid contributions from rookie Aiden Porter who is 7-12 with a .905 SV%, a 2.79 GAA and 3 shutouts. Vernon also acquired Bradley Cooper from the Prince George Spruce Kings earlier this week. He is 3-5 with a .914 SV%, a 2.28 GAA, and 2 shutouts. 

Head Coach Joe Martin feels that the game in Prince George was a good precursor for the match against Vernon. 

"These two teams play a similar style. Vernon will try and frustrate you as well. Our guys need to be patient, and realize that something special isn't going to happen every time you go down the ice."

The Cents will hope for a special effort to come away with the win tonight. 

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

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