Merritt Centennials
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The 2nd in the Interior Merritt Centennials (30-14-4-3) continue their Island swing against the Nanaimo Clippers (25-26-1-0) tonight. 

The Centennials are coming off a rough game in Powell River, but they were able to prevail due to their cooler heads. There were dangerous plays made against Payton Matsui, Mike Van Unen, and Nick Wicks, but all of them came back to action last night, and it was a complete team effort for the win. The Kings had the early edge on the powerplay scoring two first period goals, but Vincent Guy scored at even strength to make it 2-1 after 1. Matt Kopperud got the lone goal of the second period on a two-man advantage to tie the game heading into the final frame. With some penalty time for a checking from behind major to Van Unen from the 2nd carrying over to the third, the Cents were able to score an early goal. Christian Sabin got knocked down in the corner, but got up, dusted himself off, and chipped home a pass in front to give the Cents a 3-2 lead. Powell River tied things up on a shorthanded chance, but on that same powerplay Brad Cocca was able to clap a one-timer to make it 4-3. Cocca also got in on the empty netter to end the game, setting up Nick Granowicz to ice the game and the win 5-3. Austin Roden stopped 30/33 shots and picked up his 2nd win in a row, and will go again tonight. 

The Clippers have been making a bit of a surge of late. They went on a 10 game win streak to bring them back to respectability and 3rd spot in the Island Division, and are playing some of their best hockey of late. They, like the Cents, are 3-1-1 in their last 5 games played with their most recent action coming against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. They beat the Dogs last night 6-5 in regulation. 

The only time these two teams met this season was back in December, and it was the Cents who picked up the W 5-1. Austin Roden had his shutout bid broken midway through the 3rd and the Cents had a strong offensive effort from Cocca, Kopperud, and Wicks in that game. 

Cocca is returning to the form that saw him shoot up the BCHL scoring lead picking up 6 points in his last 2 games. He tallied 1 goal and 2 assists last night and is up to 61 on the year. Nick Granowicz and Nick Wicks are keeping pace with 53 points a piece, and Mathieu Gosselin is in the top 20 league wide with 51 points. 

The Clippers are led by Ethan Scardina who has 48 points. rookie Tyler Williams has 44 points, and Captain Marcus Mitchell has 39 points. 

The special teams battle sees both teams struggling on the penalty kill, but both having respectable powerplays. 

Powerplay:                               Penalty Kill: 

Cents - 19.4% (10th)          Cents - 76.7% (14th) 

Clips - 20.5% (6th)               Clips - 75.7% (15th)

In net Austin Roden is the go to guy with Vincent Duplessis suffering an injury in practice. Roden is now 21-7-3 with a .907 SV%, a 3.01 GAA and 2 shutouts. Jackson Glassford is the affiliate player called up to be in the wings. 

Jordan Naylor is 17-16 with a .900 SV% and a 3.25 GAA. Landon Pavlisin is 8-11 with a .900 SV% and a 3.44 GAA. 

Head Coach Joe Martin knows that this game has the potential to get out of hand as well.

"The Clippers play a hard edged game, and have some players that can move. We need to have the same kind of effort we had against the Kings, and play smart to not get sucked in to the silly stuff."

The Cents will try and pick up their 3rd win in a row tonight. 

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

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The Merritt Centennials kept their cool and crowned the Kings by a score of 5-3.

In the first period the Kings struck first on a two man advantage, and it was Ryan Brushett to make it 1-0. The Cents found the answer with Vincent Guy after Frazer Dodd turned the puck over to tie the game at 1-1. The Kings regained the lead on a PP goal to lead 2-1 after 1.

In the middle frame, the Cents got the lone goal from Matt Kopperud on a two man advantage to tie the game 2-2 after 2.

The Cents converted early in the third period on the powerplay when Christian Sabin took a hit in the corner, got back up, went to the net, and banged in a pass from Cocca to give the Cents their first lead 3-2. The lead didn’t last long as on the next powerplay opportunity the Kings scored shorthanded. The Cents answered just 30 seconds later on the same powerplay when Cocca got a one-time past Adamyk to restore the one goal lead 4-3. Nick Granowicz iced the game with an empty netter in the final minute to make it a 5-3 final.

Austin Roden stopped 30/33 shots for the win.

After the game, Head Coach Joe Martin praised the team for keeping their cool.

“Powell River got a little undisciplined, and we really did well to not get sucked into their game.”

Next up the Nanaimo Clippers tomorrow night.

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The 2nd in the Interior Merritt Centennials (29-14-4-3) take on the 2nd on the Island Powell River Kings (31-19-1-0) tonight.

The Cents are coming off one of their best complete efforts on the season on Wednesday night against the Coquitlam Express. The Cents got a solid special teams effort that started early with Matt Kopperud converting on the first powerplay of the game, and the team with the help of Austin Roden was able to shut the Express down on the penalty kill going perfect on 6 occasions. Brad Cocca came alive in the game in the 2nd period connecting on a beautiful passing play with Jackson Munro to make it 2-0 after 40 minutes. In the third, the Cents converted early on an expiring powerplay in the first 20 seconds to make it 3-0, then had to weather a storm of momentum from the Express. Thanks to some stellar saves from Austin Roden the Cents kept Coquitlam at bay, and then were able to add goals from Cocca and Wicks to make it 5-0 for Roden's 2nd shutout of the season.

The Cents are hoping the momentum carries over into the weekend as this stretch of 3 in 3 could define the season. They sit just 4 points back of Penticton, and have one final head to head match up next Friday. They'll get an extra push from having their Dads join them on the trip, and hopefully they perform well in front of their families in the not so familiar territory of the Island Division.

First up are the Powell River Kings who are the 2nd best team on paper in the division, but may have the best structure. The Kings are 3-2 in their last 5 and continue to have two of the top threats in the league including leading goal scorer Ryan Brushett with 35 goals this season. They also possess the leagues best powerplay so the Cents will have their hands full on defense.

The lone game these two teams played earlier this season saw the offenses combine for 7 goals on the powerplay. The Cents tallied 4/7 while the Kings went 3/5, but Powell River got more goals even strength to make it a 6-5 final.

The Cents got a big 3 point game from Brad Cocca who's now up to 58 points on the year - 6th in the BCHL. Nick Granowicz and Nick Wicks both have 52 points, and Mathieu Gosselin joins the 50 points club with 50.

The Kings rely on Ryan Brushett to fill the net. He has 72 points on the year - 2nd only to phenom Alex Newhook. Levi Glasman has 54 which is 13th league wide, and Neal Samanski has chipped in 41 points.

The special teams battle sees the Kings with the edge.

Powerplay:                                 Penalty Kill:

PR - 24.6% (1st)                        PR - 80.8% (8th)

Cents - 18.9% (12th)                 Cents - 77.1% (13th)

In net, Austin Roden is coming off his best performance of the year posting his 2nd shutout of the year. He's now reached the illustrious 20 win plateau on the season as well at 20-7-3, a .907SV%, a 3.01 GAA and 2 shutouts. Vincent Duplessis didn't dress on Wednesday, and an AP could be on the bench tonight.

Mitch Adamyk has been the go to guy for the Kings at 23-13. He sports a .907 SV%, a 2.93 GAA and 4 shutouts. Matteo Paler-Chow is 4-4 with a .891 SV% and a 3.36 GAA.

Head Coach Joe Martin says the Kings will be a good barometer for the Island road swing.

"The Kings have the best structure out of all the Island teams, they have good special teams, they play well at home. If we can get past them it will set a good tone."

The Cents hope to set the tone early tonight.

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

 

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The Merritt Centennials got a 40 save performance and plenty of offense to return to the win column on Wednesday night against the Express 5-0.

The powerplay has been a bit of a question mark all season long, but it had answers early in the goings of the first. Matt Kopperud clapped a one-timer from Nick Granowicz upstairs, bar down to make it 1-0. The offense took a while to arrive as shots after 1 were only 8-7 in favour of the Express. Kolby Matthews got the nod for the Express while Austin Roden got the start for the Cents.

In the second period, the Cents and Express traded chances but it took until the 12 minute mark for the offense to arrive. Austin Roden was the best penalty killer by a long shot, and it led to some good things at the other end of the ice. Brad Cocca and Jackson Munro combined for one of the nicest rushes of the season. Cocca gained the line on the right side, dropped for Munro, and then got open on the other side of the ice. Munro made a move, saucered a pass over, and Cocca made a move to the backhand past a sprawled out Matthews to make it 2-0. Shots after 2 were 20-19 Cents.

The Cents had a third opportunity on the PP when the third period began with just 30 seconds to work. Merritt hit pay dirt in the first 20 seconds after Brendan Schneider found a rebound and batted it home to make it 3-0. The Cents then weathered an Express storm and Austin Roden captained the ship killing off a couple penalties and a total of 6 on the night, once again it led to opportunities for offense. Mathieu Gosselin had a steal at the offensive blue line, and came in all alone, his initial shot was stopped by Matthews, but he collected the rebound and waited for reinforcements and found Cocca out front to make it 4-0. Nick Wicks got the final goal of the night, after Rylan Van Unen did the heavy lifting and found him in front to make it 5-0. From there the team switched gears to the defensive side to help reward Roden for his efforts. The Cents netminder turned aside 21 shots in the final frame, and 40 overall for the shutout.

After the game, Head Coach Joe Martin said that there was a lot to like.

"The powerplay was good, Roden was great, the offense was there. We took a few too many penalties, but there's always small things to look at after a game like this."

ENERGY PLAYER OF THE GAME: Joey Berkopec 0G 2A 2PIM

3RD STAR: Jackson Munro 0G 2A

2ND STAR: Brad Cocca 2G 1A

1ST STAR: Austin Roden 40/40

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The 2nd in the Interior Division Merritt Centennials (28-14-4-3) take on the Mainland's 3rd place Coquitlam Express (25-21-2-2) tonight.

The Centennials are coming off a light week of action with just 2 games, but are heading into their heaviest of the season with 4 games in 5 nights this week. The Cents were unable to get into the win column in the week that was, but did pick up one of a possible four points in a shootout loss. First up was the Wenatchee Wild last Wednesday, and the Cents had trouble breaking through a strong neutral zone of the Wild. Mathieu Gosselin was able to score in the first period, and Nick Granowicz was able to add a late goal to make things interesting, but the Cents fell 3-2 in regulation - their first regulation defeat in 2019.

On Saturday night against the Trail Smoke Eaters, the coaching staff elected to switch up the forward group hoping to add some life and some intrigue to lines that may have been getting too comfortable. It paid off early as the Cents were able to get two first period goals from Brendan Schneider and Brett Roloson for a 2-2 tie, but after that the offense dried up and the teams skated all the way through the last 45 minutes without a goal. That gave way to the shootout where the Cents were burned again, unable to score on three shooters and surrendering one to wiz kid Kent Johnson of the Smokies. The result was a 3-2 shootout loss.

The Cents now look to return to the win column against the Coquitlam Express, a team they just snuck past earlier in January 5-4. Payton Matsui and Rylan Van Unen scored to tie the game at 2's but the Express surged out to a 4-2 lead after 40 minutes. Que the comeback, Daniel Tkac would score with less than 5 minutes to go, and Nick Wicks would score with less than a minute to go to tie the game at 4. In OT, the Cents dominated and Wicks dangled in and was able to secure the OT victory with a snipe short side high.

The big news prior to that game against the Express was Coquitlam's acquisition of Surrey's Ty Westgard before the trade deadline. It was the biggest splash, and the biggest fish available on the trade market. However, in their last 5 the Express are 0-3-2 with their most recent loss coming to the Salmon Arm Silverbacks last night 2-1 in the shootout.

The Cents need a little more from their top weapons. Brad Cocca is up to 55 points which is 9th in the BCHL, but hasn't registered more than 2 points in a game in the new year. The same can be said for Nick Granowicz with 51 points, however he did get a goal and an assist against the Wild last week. Nick Wicks has been steadily picking up points and is now tied with Grano at 51, and Mathieu Gosselin is sitting on the precipice of 50 with 49 points.

The Express are led by Josh Wildauer up front with 49 points, newly acquired Ty Westgard has 45, Alex DiPaolo has 43 and Regan Kimens has 42.

The special teams battle sees the Express with the edge.

Powerplay:                                  Penalty Kill:

Coq: 19.6% (10th)                      Coq; 77.8% (12th)

Cents: 18.4% (14th)                   Cents: 76.5% (14th)

The goalie duel sees Roden coming off a pair of overtime defeats, and Duplessis hitting the win column in his last start. Austin Roden is 19-7-3 with a .903 SV%, a 3.11 GAA, and 1 shutout. Vincent Duplessis is 9-5-3 with a .906 SV% and a 3.21 GAA.

Both goalies for the Express are capable and have split time this season. Kolby Matthews is 13-13 with a .907 SV%, a 2.81 GAA, and 1 shutout. Clay Stevenson is 12-10 with an .880 SV%, a 3.77 GAA, and 1 shutout.

Assistant Coach Brandon Shaw says the Express will be a tough test.

"Coquitlam is a big team, a strong team, and a fast team. We will have to outwork them and make life difficult for them when they visit our barn."

The Cents will put their toughness to the test tonight.

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

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