The Merritt Centennials (8-6) will look for a measure of revenge this afternoon against the Cowichan Valley Capitals (2-8-1-1).
The Cents are coming off an offense fueled 8-4 win against the West Kelowna Warriors. Brad Cocca started the game with a wrap around goal just 2 minutes in, but the Warriors quickly seized back momentum with three unanswered goals. After the BCHL media timeout, the Cents got a shot in the arm thanks to the words of Head Coach Joe Martin and stormed back with 3 unanswered of their own including the first in the BCHL from Brady Ziemer, one from Brendan Schneider, and a beautiful goal from Matt Kopperud to lead after one, 4-3. In the second period, both teams added a powerplay marker, and Mathieu Gosselin converted for the Cents to make it 5-4 heading into the third. The Cents offense continued to churn as Brad Cocca scored his second of the game, Vincent Guy sniped his first of the year, and Mike Van Unen added his second in as many games. The Cents went 3/12 on the powerplay in the penalty filled contest, and killed off 4/5 on the penalty kill. Austin Roden picked up his first win in 3 tries, as he really looked to return to form after allowing the third goal against.
The Capitals represent the lone loss for the Cents on the Island road swing last weekend. Austin Roden took the loss, as 3 powerplay goals, and 3 deflections got past him in a 4-2 defeat. Nick Granowicz and Mathieu Gosselin tallied for the Cents in a losing effort, and the team will have to learn from its mistakes in short order. Head Coach of the Capitals, Mike Vandekamp, is a former coach of the Centennials and will have his team ready to play in the smaller confines of the NVMA. The Capitals are a big team that possesses a game that will be well suited to the Cents arena, and are coming off tough matchups against the Penticton Vees and Trail Smoke Eaters this weekend.
The Capitals couldn't hang on to a one goal lead from the second period against the Smoke Eaters falling 6-4 at the Cominco Arena. Last night against Penticton the Caps played an undisciplined brand of hockey with many players ejected from the game and surrendered 13 powerplays. The Vees took advantage for a 4-1 win. It means the Capitals are 0-2 on this weekend road trip and hungry for two points against the Cents.
In the special teams battle the Cents crawl up to a 15.6% conversion rate on the powerplay, good enough for 14th in the league while the Capitals are 11th with 17%. On the penalty kill the Cents improve slightly to 72.5%, but are still last in the league while the Caps are 7th at 83.8%.
The Cents are coming off a strong start from Austin Roden who dusted off some early shakiness to guide the Cents to an 8-4 win. He's now 5-3 with a .877 SV% and a 4.09 GAA. Vincent Duplessis was bested in his last start by the Vees but before that rattled off three wins in a row, he's 3-3 with an .855 SV% and a 3.57 GAA. The Capitals got a solid outing from Matt Waite against the Centennials, he's 1-3 with a 3.42 GAA and a .884 SV%. Jack Grant is 1-6 with a .917 SV% and a 3.02 GAA.
Head Coach Joe Martin knows that the Capitals won't be pushovers in the NVMA.
"Mike Vandekamp has a lot of experience in this building, his team is built for a smaller arena, and their arena on the Island is pretty similar. We have to be ready to play for sure."
The Cents can't afford to underestimate the Capitals on home ice if they want to come away with another win to continue to pace the Interior Division.
Families can take advantage of A&W Family day and a family of 4 can come to the game for just $20. Meet the Root Bear, take part in fun intermission games, bid on raffles that will support MS reseasrch, and let the Cents help make you a combo.
Puck Drop 2pm, Pre-Game 1:45 on Hockey TV and Q101.1FM with Jared Thomas.
In the Merritt Centennials and the West Kelowna Warriors it was a clash of the two top offenses in the Interior Division, and they didn't dissapoint combining for 12 goals as the Centennials scored 8 to the Warriors 4 to take the first clash of the season.
The party didn't take long to get started as Brad Cocca lit the lamp just 2 minutes into the game with a wrap around goal through the wickets of Brock Baier of the Warriors. But the shortly after the momentum would swing in the Warriors favour, Mike Hardman got one up high, short side past Austin Roden who made the start, and Willie Reim would add two as they'd score 3 unanswered. The BCHL media timeout came later in the period with 6 and a half minutes to go, and instead of unleashing on his team, Head Coach Joe Martin gathered the boys around and built them out. It paid dividends almost immediately as the puck was won back to Brady Ziemer and he tallied his first in the BCHL. That would swing the pendulum back in the Centeniials favour, as Brendan Schneider would find the back of the net from the slot, and Matt Kopperud would add a highlight reel goal for the ages by dangling the defender and juking the netminder to make it 4-3 Cents after 1. Austin Roden stopped 8/11 shots, but seemed to turn a corner mentally after allowing the third goal. Baier stopped 10/14.
The second period didn't produce nearly as much offense as the first as only a goal was scored on each side. The goal for the Cents came on the powerplay up 2 men, and Mathieu Gosselin scored his team leading 9th goal of the year. The Warriors kept within one with a powerplay goal of their own from Tyler Pang, who had his first of the BCHL as well. Away from the scoreline, Head Coach of the Warriors Geoff Grimwood was thrown from the game after becoming too heated on the bench. Through two Roden stopped 18/22 while Baier saved 26/31.
The final frame was penalty filled, and the Cents took advantage. They'd add three to the scoreline: Brad Cocca would get another goal on the powerplay, Vincent Guy locked and loaded for his first of the season, and Mike Van Unen added a late marker on a 2 man advantage to tally his second in as many games. Roden picked up his 5th win of the year by stopping 29/33 while Baier was peppered with shots and fell to 1-2 by saving 40/48.
After the game, Head Coach Joe Martin applauded the play of his whole team.
"You have to give a lot of credit to the team, and a lot of credit to Austin Roden. We talked a lot about playing with intesity, and after talking about it in that first BCHL timeout, we found it, and elevated our game."
The Cents next play on Sunday Afternoon in a rematch against the Cowichan Valley Capitals. Puck Drop is 2pm and it's an A&W family day - 2 parents and 2 students/kids can get in for $20. Come cheer on your first place Cents!
The 1st place in the Interior Division Merritt Centennials (7-6) will take on the 4th place West Kelowna Warriors (6-5) for the first time this season tonight at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.
The two clubs split the season series last year 3-3 with each team winning twice on home ice, and once as the visitors. 4 of the games featured a lot of offense, as the teams combined for 6 goals or more, and with the way these two teams are playing we could be heading that way again. The Centennials continue to lead the league in scoring with 47 goals to date, but the Warriors are tied for second in the Interior Division with 38 goals. However, the Warriors have only allowed 34 goals against while the Centennials have allowed 51.
The Cents are coming off a penalty filled game against the Penticton Vees that saw the Cents go to the box for 9 minor penalties, and they'd surrender 3 goals while short a man. The Cents got goals in the 3rd period from Mike Van Unen, his first of the season, and Matt Kopperud, his 5th of the year and the Cents second short handed goal of the season. The game saw some late rough stuff as well as Christian Sabin dropped the gloves and pummeled the Vees defender in the Cents first fight of the season. Despite the late efforts, the Cents dug their grave too deep and fell 6-2 to Penticton.
The Warriors are back in the win column after topping the Victoria Grizzlies in their last game 4-1. By all accounts that was also a lopsided game in terms of penalties, and the Warriors had trouble with the extra man, but still found a way to win. Before that win, they dropped 2 decisions to Salmon Arm, but have also shown they can get hot with a 4 game win streak already early in the year.
Discipline will be a key factor, as the Centennials have 3 defenseman in the top 10 in penalty minutes. Mike Van Unen, Joey Berkopec, and Brady Ziemer sit 6,7,8 league-wide in regards to the sin bin with 24, 24, and 22 minutes of penalties a piece. The Cents have had the most powerplay opportunities in the league with 78, and they've also spent the most time short handed with 75 penalties against. The Centennials may be struggling with their special teams units, but eliminating needless penalties like the extra shots to the back in the corner, slashes, and other stick work would help them stay 5-on-5 where they're the most talented group in the league.
Brad Cocca continues to pick up points, now 4th in the league with 16, and Nick Granowicz sits 10th in BCHL scoring with 14.
The Warriors have a representative in the top 10 in BCHL scoring with Willie Reim sitting 6th with 15 points throughout the early season. Other top threats on the Warriors: Mike Hardman - 12 points, Max Bulawka - 11 points, and defender Wyatt Head with 10 points.
The special teams edge goes to the Warriors. Despite struggling in their last game on the powerplay, they're second in the league with a 25% conversion rate. The Cents are 15th in the league at 14.1%. On the penalty kill the Cents will have some company as it's the battle of the two worst teams short manned. The Cents are 17th at 72% while the Warriors are just above them at 74.3%.
The battle of the blue paint will see the Cents looking for a strong start from their goaltender. Vincent Duplessis saw his personal win streak snapped at 3 with the loss to the Vees on Wednesday and now sits 3-3 with a .885 SV% and a 3.57 GAA. Austin Roden has dropped his last two starts and has fallen to 4-3 with a .877 SV% and a 4.10GAA. The Warriors have been getting solid goaltending from Connor Hopkins who is 5-3 with a .910 SV% and a 3.11 GAA, and they've just acquired Brock Baier from the WHL's Windsor Spitfires and he is 1-1 with a .919 SV%and a 2.56 GAA.
Head Coach Joe Martin says the Centennials need to show some of the extra gear they had late against the Penticton Vees to get past the Warriors.
"I think we proved we have another level that we can play at, and we'll need to use it against the Warriors if we want to beat them."
The Cents will hope to stay at the level they are in the standings, and to do that they'll need to pick up a win tonight against the Warriors.
Puck Drop 7pm, Pre-Game 6:45 on Q101.1FM and Q101.ca.
The Cents were looking for their first win against the Vees in over a year, and will have to continue waiting as they fell 6-2 at the SOEC on Wednesday night.
The Centennials were playing the perfect road game until penalty trouble late in the first opened the game up. Vincent Guy went off for elbowing at the 16:38 mark, and Ryan Sandelin of the Vees quickly followed suit, but 4-on-4 the Vees would strike for the first goal of the game off a centering feed to Luke Sillinger. Jaydon Fetter was called for a spearing double-minor at the 17:43 mark putting the Cents in a rare 4-on-3 situation. Mike Van Unen would make it worse when he went off for slashing 10 seconds later, and then the Vees went to work with the extra man. Sandelin scored after coming out of the box to make it a two- man advantage and then Conner Hutchison added another to make it 3-0 before the end of the first. Vincent Duplessis stopped 11/14 in the first while Jack Lafontaine stopped all 6 shots he faced.
The second period saw the Cents take steps forwards, and back as the penalties continued but no one found the back of the net in the second. Through two Duplessis stopped 23/26 and Lafontaine hadn’t let any by of the 11 the Cents threw on net.
The Cents came out more determined in the third and were rewarded early when Mike Van Unen scored his first of the year. A play off the rush that saw Nick Wicks, drop it back for Brad Cocca who unleashed a shot that let out a large rebound that Van Unen cleaned up. However, with the Cents pushing at the tail end of a powerplay, they were caught pinching at the line and James Miller skated in uninhibited for a breakaway goal. Hutchison would add another on the powerplay before the rough stuff began. Christian Sabin dropped the mitts and thumped Lagerstrom of the Vees into submission with repeated rights. The fight energized both benches, but it paid dividends for the Cents as the Vees turned it over off an incoming hit to Matt Kopperud in the slot, and he dangled in and went back hand forehand past a sprawling Lafontaine to make it 5-2. Miller would silence the comeback trail with another goal on the partial breakaway to make it 6-2. Duplessis stopped 39/45 shots while LaFontaine stopped 19/21.
After the game Head Coach Joe Martin said that the team showed resilience despite calls not going their way.
“I think this team showed themselves that they have a whole other gear to work with. When the chips are down they can really find another level.”
The Cents will look to find that other level on Friday night when they return home to take on the Warriors. Puck Drop 7pm from the NVMA.
The Merritt Centennials (7-5) road swing continues after returning home from the Island, they travel over the Connector to take on the Penticton Vees (5-4).
This wil be the Cents 5th road game in a row, and so far on the road trip they are 3-1, picking up wins over the Vipers, the Bulldogs, and the Eagles while suffering their lone defeat at the hand of the Capitals. The Cents picked up 4 of a possible 6 points last weekend, and hope to carry over some momentum from their last win against the Eagles. If they can manage a similar start, one that saw them shoot out to a 3-0 lead in the first 10 minutes of play with goals from Mathieu Gosselin, Brett Roloson, and Rylan Van Unen, they should be okay. Nick Granowicz got the eventual game winner, as the Centennials weathered a late Eagles comeback to win 4-3. Vincent Duplessis also picked up his third win in as many starts against the Eagles.
The Vees spoiled the celebration of the Humboldt Broncos when these teams met last, jumping out to a 4-0 lead in the first, and making it 5-0 before the Cents started to turn the game around. The Cents would get as close as 5-3 before the Vees iced the game on the powerplay with a goal from then newcomer Andre Ghantous to win 6-3.
Penticton is coming off a 2-1 loss against the Vernon Vipers, but before that had rattled off three in a row, including that game on September 28 against the Centennials. They also continue to tinker with their group as they've added Eric Linell, former Eagles and Express forward, to the mix and have parted ways with Devon Mussio.
Brad Cocca and Nick Granowicz represent the Cents in the top 10 in league scoring with 15 and 14 points a piece, and Granowicz is coming off an honorable mention after scoring 3 goals and adding an assist over the Island road swing. Mathieu Gosselin and Nick Wicks aren't far behind with 12 points each.
The Vees continue to rely on David Silye to provide offense as he has 16 points. The're hoping newcomer Eric Linell can continue to produce in a Vees uniform as he has 12 points, and Ryan Sandelin has chipped in with 8.
The Cents continue to win without elite special teams. They are now 15th in the league with the extra man at 14.9% and last in the league in regards to the penalty kill at 72.7%. The Vees have the edge at 13th on the powerplay with 15.2% and 8th on the penalty kill at 83.8%
In net the Cents are stil looking for a break out game from either Austin Roden or Vincent Duplessis. Duplessis has won his last 3 starts and is 3-2 with a .891 SV% and a 3.10 GAA. Roden has picked up more wins at 4-3, but has a .877 SV% and a 4.10 GAA. The Vees have gotten some solid performances from Jack Lafontaine who is 4-3 with a .917 SV% and a 1.87 GAA. However, the Cents last saw Derek Krall who is 1-1 with an .881 SV% and a 3.55 GAA.
Head Coach Joe Martin says the Vees present a challenge, especially on their ice.
"You can't get lost looking at the Vees record, Penticton wil always be Pentiction, and they'll always be a good club. They've made some improvements, and we have to continue to improve."
The Cents will hope to end a losing streak against the Vees that goes all the way back to Game 7 of the 2016-17 Playoffs.
Puck Drop 7pm. Pre-Game 6:45 on Q101.1FM or online at q101.ca with Jared Thomas