Merritt Centennials
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The Merritt Centennials made their second trip to OT in as many nights, but this time they wouldn't play the victim, as Jackson Munro rifled a shot top corner to propel the Cents to a 4-3 victory over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. 

The Cents got off to a strong start, and a forward who has been all over the ice since he's joined the team finally scored his first goal in the BCHL. Payton Matsui streaked across the right wing side before picking the far-side past the blocker of Ethan Langenegger to make it 1-0. He'd follow that up with a bit of a lucky one at the 8:04 mark of the first, banking it off a defenders skate and in to make it 2-0. The Cents and Silverbacks would trade chances on the powerplay, but the only goal on special teams on the night would come from the Cents shorthanded. Nick Granowicz drove wide with speed, then tried a wrap around and found Bradd Cocca out front and the leading scorer made no mistake giving the Cents the 3-0 edge through the first. The Cents outshot the Silverbacks 10-5 in the first, with Austin Roden having a clean sheet through one. 

In the second it would be the SIlverbacks turn to turn up the heat. Nick Unruh would score just 2 and a half minutes into the second, and Andy Stevens would add another later in the frame. Stevens threw a shot on Roden as he crossed the blue line and Roden got a big piece of it with the blocker, but it rolled over and in to bring the Silverbacks within 1. The Silverbacks threw everything on net to out shoot the Cents after 2, 27-20. 

The Silverbacks and Cents would both play strong in the third, but the Backs would pull all the way back and tie it at 3's with 5 minutes left. Matthew Verboon bullied the puck across the line. 

In OT, the Cents dominated, and were rewarded. Mathieu Gosselin worked the puck up to Nick Wicks, and then it found it's way to Jackson Munro who blasted a shot upstairs to play hero and give the Cents the 4-3 win. 

With the win the Cents keep pace with the Penticton Vees, but will remain in second place. 

Energy Player of the Game - Brendan Schneider 

3rd Star - Andy Stevens: 1G

2nd Star - Payton Matsui: 2G

1st Star - Jackson Munro: 1G, 1A

After the game, Head Coach Joe Martin said that Munro brings something special to the club. 

"Jackson just brings an all out positivity to the bench. He brings the team up when they need it. He's coachable and always ready to take advice. He's been great since returning to the line up."

The Cents will have another long road trip ahead when they face the Prince George Spruce Kings on Wednesday. 

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The Merritt Centennials (17-9-1-1) won’t get much rest as they welcome the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (14-10-1-0) to the NVMA tonight.

The Cents are coming off a 2-1 overtime loss to the Trail Smoke Eaters. The Smokies struck in the first period and held that lead until the third. Brad Cocca tied the game at 1 with his 40th point of the season and send the game to OT. However, in overtime the Cents and Vincent Duplessis would be victimized by a tough goal call after a goal line drive was stopped, but Duplessis was ruled to have fallen too far behind the goal line and the refs ruled Trail the winners.

The Cents will look to rebound against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, and they lead the season series 3-1. The Silverbacks took the season opener 4-2, but the Cents have since come back with wins 5-2 in Salmon Arm, 5-0 at home, and 3-2 in Salmon Arm for the edge.

The most recent contest came just last weekend, where the Cents won a bit of a wild one. Christian Sabin opened the scoring in Salmon Arm, but the game hinged on a 5-minute major against Matt Kopperud (which after tonight will mark game 3 of 4 in his suspension). On that major, Nick Granowicz scored two shorthanded goals to negate the two powerplay goals the ‘Backs scored. In the third, the Cents and Austin Roden hung on for the 3-2 victory.

The Cents return home where they are one of the most successful teams in the BCHL, and hope the offense will come back to life following a rare one-goal output in Trail. They’ll have to put their return home road legs to the test.

Cocca continues to lead the Cents with 40 points, Nick Granowicz has 37, and Mathieu Gosselin has 32.

The Silverbacks are led by Matthew Verboon with 22 points, Trevor Adams with 19 points, and Hudson Schandor with 18 points.

The special teams battle sees the Silverbacks with the edge.

Powerplay:                                 Penalty Kill:

‘Backs - 19.8% (8th)              Backs - 82.4% (8th)

Cents - 17.8% (12th)            Cents - 75.9% (16th)

The goaltending battle sees Austin Roden winning his last 3 starts including the last two contests against the Silverbacks including the lone shutout of the year. Austin Roden is 11-5 with an .894 SV%, a 3.51 GAA, and 1 shutout. Vincent Duplessis is now 6-3-2 with a .908SV% and a 3.13 GAA. The Silverbacks have relied on Ethan Langenegger and Matthew Armitage this season. Langenegger is 9-8 with a .909 SV% and a 3.03 GAA. Armitage is 3-2 with a .925 SV%, a 2.50 GAA, and 1 shutout.

Head Coach Joe Martin says the Cents will have to battle the road warrior stigma.

“There will be a lot made of the road trip we just made to Trail, and how they can come in and take advantage. We have to make sure we are ready to play, and play our game to give them a stiff test.”

The Cents will hope to pass the test against the Silverbacks tonight.

For all fans who show up to the game, make sure you drop by the Xplornet booth for your chance to win a $100 gift card.

Puck Drop 7pm. Pre-Game 6:45 on Q101.1FM and Q101.ca with Jared Thomas

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The long road to Trail wasn’t for not as the Cents picked up a point, but they’ll wish for more after a controversial 2-1 loss in OT against the Smoke Eaters.

On their first powerplay, on their first shot, the Smoke Eaters would get the first goal of the game from Carter Jones. Rylan Van Unen was in the box for slashing. The Cents would get a chance on the powerplay in the period, but would be unable to convert. Brett Roloson had the golden opportunity of the first, but his shot went wide from the high slot. Vincent Duplessis made the start, but wasn’t overly busy stopping 5/6 shots while Adam Marcoux stopped all 10 for Trail.

The second period was a little sloppy on both sides. Lots of forced passes, lots of neutral zone play, lots of quick zone entries and exits. As imagined, it didn’t result in much offense as neither team scored in the middle frame. Shots after 2 were 17-13 in favour of the Cents.

The third period opened with the Cents hungry to get in the game. Just three minutes in they were rewarded when Brad Cocca scored his 13th goal of the season, and his 40th point by beating Marcoux with a quick shot as he crossed the blue line in the middle of the ice. It beat Marcoux low glove side and tied the game at 1-1. The Cents would make a heavy push in the third shooting 16 shots on net, but couldn’t find the game winner.

OT wouldn’t last long as just 2 minutes in, Bryce Anderson drove in from the far side of the ice and cut towards net. Vincent Duplessis made the save, but as he was falling backwards into the net, he thrashed it out into the blue paint. The referees ruled the puck crossed the line as Duplessis was falling backwards and that would be the end of the game.

The Cents picked up a point, but will slide back to 2nd in the Interior Division after a Penticton Win.

The Cents will make the journey home, and get set to host the Salmon Arm Silverbacks tomorrow night.

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The Merritt Centennials (17-9-0-1) take to the road to face the Trail Smoke Eaters (10-12-4-2) in a battle of division rivals tonight. 

The Cents are coming off a week where they went 2-1. The week kicked off with a 3-2 loss at home to the Wenatchee Wild - Matt Kopperud picked up both goals in the loss. The Cents followed that up with a 3-2 victory at the surprisingly stingy Shaw Centre against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. This time it was Nick Granowicz's time to shine as he collected 2 shorthanded goals and an assist to see the Cents past the backs. The weekend finale was back at home where the Cents handled the Smoke Eaters in their first meeting of the season and won by a score of 4-2. 

It's rare, but not unheard of, to face the same two teams on back to back weekends, but that's what the Cents will do. They'll look to replicate their 4-2 win last Saturday as they outworked the Smokies for the victory. Nick Wicks, Rylan Van Unen, Ben Ward, and Brendan Schneider all tallied for the Cents as they'll try to put together another 3 game win streak tonight. A week after the powerplay had it's best weekend of the season going 7/12, it had one of it's worst weeks of the season going 1/16. The Cents have had a long week of practice to prepare for this rematch - we'll see if the practice pays off tonight. 

The Smoke Eaters made the long trek to Prince George for a mid-week match up in between facing the Cents. The 10-hour one-way journey didn't pay dividends as the Smoke Eaters were upended by the best defensive team in the BCHL 4-1. Smokies netminder Adam Marcoux had a solid game to keep his team in it, but with just 17 shots in the game the Smokies couldn't generate enough offense. 

Matt Kopperud continues to serve a 4-game suspension for his hit on Hudson Schandor last Friday in Trail. Brad Cocca continues to lead the team and is 3rd in BCHL scoring with 39 points, Nick Granowicz is 4th with 37, and Mathieu Gosselin is 11th with 32. 

The Smoke Eaters are led by newly acquired forward Chase Stevenson and Captain Braeden Tuck with 24 points while Carter Jones has 23. 

Players to Watch: 

Centennials - #29 Brett Roloson (2G,2A): The young forward for the Cents is seeing some extra ice time in the absence of Matt Kopperud as he centres Brendan Schneider and Rylan Van Unen. His work ethic has been on display in the last number of games, using his speed to get pucks quickly up ice, and back check to be back in sound position defensively. He's a pot that's ready to boil over. 

Smoke Eaters - #14 Diarmad Dimurro (0G,18A): The smooth skating defenseman for Trail had his feet on display against the Centennials in the last outing. He can make the first man miss, and then skate the puck up ice to start the offense. He hasn't bulged the twine yet this season, but he's a good puck distributor for the Smokies. 

Special Teams: 

Powerplay                                          Penalty Kill

Smoke Eaters - 21.6% (2nd)    Smoke Eaters - 76.2% (14th)

Cents - 18.2% (11th)                   Cents - 76.1% (16th)

Goaltending: Austin Roden comes in with the hot hand winning his last 3 starts. Vincent Duplessis had won 3 in a row before being stopped by the Wild last wednesday. 

Cents: 

Austin Roden - 11-5 .894 SV% 3.51 GAA 1 shutout

Vincent Duplessis - 6-3-1 .908 SV% 3.23 GAA 

Smoke Eaters: 

Adam Marcoux - 8-12 .888SV% 3.35 GAA

Tanner Marshall - 2-4 .884SV% 3.22GAA

Head Coach Joe Martin hopes that with a long week of practice, the Cents will be prepared for the Smokies. 

"There's some things we will work on, including the powerplay, to be ready for the Smoke Eaters, but it all comes back to our game plan and how we execute."

Puck Drop 7pm. Pre-Game 6:45 on Q101.1FM and Q101.ca with Jared Thomas. 

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The Merritt Centennials broke their slump on the powerplay, and broke through with a 4-2 win against the Trail Smoke Eaters. 

The first period started off slow, 3 minutes passed before the first shots were exchanged. After the slow start, the Cents slowly started to turn on the offense. After a stretch in the offensive end, Brad Cocca threw the puck from behind the net out front to Nick Granowicz, who passed it to Nick Wicks at the side of the net who finished off the play to make it 1-0. It was Wicks' 5th goal of the season, and the Cents lone goal of the frame. The Smoke Eaters would tie things up late in the period on the powerplay to make it 1-1 after 1. Austin Roden made his second consecutive start for the Cents and stopped 8/9 in the first period. Adam Marcoux stopped 8/9 for the Smokies. 

In the second, the teams traded a couple powerplay opportunities before the Cents broke the deadlock. The energy line went to work down low in the offensive zone, and Frazer Dodd tried a shot from the near side that was denied, but Ben Ward found it behind the net and tucked it in the other side for his second of the season, and the 2-1 lead. Rylan Van Unen finished off a quick passing play from Brendan Schneider behind the net for the Cents to take the 3-1 lead into the third. Shots after 2 were 23-15. 

The final frame saw both teams trade goals early on the powerplay. The Smoke Eaters used the powerplay to their advantage for the second time in the game, and the Centennials used the powerplay to their advantage for the first time in 12 attempts. Brendan Schneider broke the slump for the Centennials by finding the rebound from a Brady Ziemer point shot to make it 4-2. The Cents would get a full length 2-man advantage that they couldn't convert on, and then they'd play defense the rest of the way to hang on to the lead. Austin Roden would pick up his third win in as many tries, and the Cents will retain their hold on first place in the Interior Division. 

Energy Player of the Game: 

Nick Wicks - 1G

3rd Star: Joey Berkopec - 1A

2nd Star: Ben Ward - 1G

1st Star: Brendan Schneider - 1G, 1A

After the game, Head Coach Joe Martin said it was important to come away with this kind of victory. 

"This kind of win is almost more important than one where everything is going right. We had to work hard, teams are starting to gun for us and play us like we are the top team in the division."

The Cents and Smoke Eaters will do it all again next Friday from Trail. 7pm puck drop on Q101. 

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