The Cents are coming off one of their most impressive wins of the year against the West Kelowna Warriors taking the game by a score of 5-1, and they look to continue that same game style as they begin a 4 game road swing away from the Nicola Valley.
The journey begins at the Q Centre in Victoria where they take on the tied for 1st place in the Island Division Grizzlies who have a 10-7-2-0 record. The Cents split the season series against the Grizzlies last season with both teams taking their home games in tight one goal fashion. The Cents won 3-2 in Merritt, and the Grizzlies won 5-4 in Victoria.
The Cents are hoping that the Island Division is kinder to them than it was last season where they struggled to a 2-9 record. As mentioned, one of their lone wins came against the Grizzlies. The Cents finished October 4-4-2-0, which was an improvement over their 2-6-0-0 record in September, and they'll look to improve that in November.
The Grizzlies come into this game after a busy October in which they played 11 games. The Grizzlies finished 5-6 and come into the game losers of two straight, their last against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in double overtime 3-2.
Victoria is led offensively by stand out rookie Alex Newhook who has 21 points in 19 games played. The Grizzlies also boast 5 more players who have more than 10 points this year: Lucas Clark (17), Jamie Rome (15), Ethan Nother (14), TJ Friedmann (12), and Justin Michaelian (11).
After struggling to begin the year on the powerplay the Centennials now have the 7th best powerplay in the league at 18.6%, the Grizzlies are just ahead of them at 6th with 20%. The Grizzlies have the leagues 3rd best penalty kill at 85.5%, but only have one short handed goal. The Cents aggressive penalty kill is sitting at 80.8%, but are one off the league pace with 5 short handed goals for.
Regardless of whether he starts or plays back up, the game will be the first for goaltender Austin Roden in a Centennials jersey after being acquired earlier in the week from the Nanaimo Clippers. To date he has a BCHL record of 11-14-2 with a 3.17 goals against average, and a .901 save percentage with two shutouts in 34 games.
Head Coach Joe Martin says the Victoria start will be nice, but the team will be tough.
" Starting in Victoria geographically is nice, but they're a good team, a fast team, and have good goaltending."
The Cents will hope to test the goaltender early and often tonight at the Q Centre in Victoria. 7pm puck drop, 6:45 Pre Game with Jared Thomas on 101.1 FM, or stream the game on your desktop or device at q101.ca.
The Cents have traded for Nanaimo Clippers goaltender Austin Roden in exchange for future considerations.
With the injury to Vincent Duplessis ealier this season the Cents have been riding Jacob Berger to a league high 929 minutes played through the first two months of the season. The team has had AP call up, Jared Breitkruz as a safety net since Duplessis went down, but Breitkruz has seen only one game in relief, and one start so far.
19 year old Austin Roden is 2-4-1 so far this season with the Clippers with a 3.17 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage.
Head Coach Joe Martin says that acquiring someone who could push Berger was key.
"He's a goaltender that has a full year of experience, and then a handful of games maybe nine games this year so far."
Roden, who just arrived in Merritt today, will be going back to the island this weekend with the Cents to play games against the Victoria Grizzlies and Alberni Valley Bulldogs before facing the Surrey Eagles on the way home on Sunday.
The Merritt Centennials managed to put together a strong start, played more of their depth, apply a steady forecheck, and get some timely goals in topping the West Kelowna Warriors 5-1 on Sunday afternoon in front of fans, parents, and billets to wrap up parent’s weekend.
The first period saw the Cents rifle 19 shots on net as they looked to end Cole Demers unblemished 5-0 record. Demers stood tall until the 13:09 mark when Mike Van Unen got his 1st of the season when Zach Court centred from the corner, and Van Unen made a move at the line in the centre of the ice to find a seem and go low glove on Demers. Jacob Berger got his league leading start for the Cents and stopped all 10 shots through 1.
The Cents got on the board early in the second period on the powerplay on a penalty that carried over from the first. Brendan Schneider batted home the rebound from Zach Zorn’s centring feed. But the special teams play wasn’t done yet, as Rylan Van Unen scored one short handed streaking down the left wing with Henry Cleghorn as an option in the middle, he opted to shoot and he blasted the water bottle off the net over the glove hand of Demers to make it 3-0.
The 3rd period saw the Cents take two penalties, but were able to kill them off, and shut the Warriors out on the penalty kill. Garrett Ewert got his first in the BCHL for the Warriors, before Bradley Cocca restored the 3 goal lead, and Schneider iced it with his 2nd in the game to make it 5-1.
After the game Head Coach Joe Martin credited the forecheck for causing problems for the Warriors.
“We made some changes to our forecheck 5 on 5, and it helped not just staying in the offensive zone, but also coming back to our zone. The pressure that we were able to put on them coming back, helped our defensemen be a little more aggressive in the neutral zone.”
The Cents will look to continue their winning ways next weekend when they head to the Island to take on the Victoria Grizzlies on Friday, the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Saturday, and the Surrey Eagles on Sunday.
The Centennials come into a sunday afternoon tilt against the West Kelowna Warriors looking for redemption on parents weekend. The Cents lost on friday night to Trail Smoke Eaters 5-4 in a game that was within their grasp. They led 2-1 after 1 on goals from Zach Court and Tyrell Buckley, and led 3-1 mid way through the second after Ashton Stockie went top shelf on Tanner Marshall, but Trail was able to rally off three straight powerplay goals to tie the game, and then get the go ahead goal at even strength before Buckley tied it late in the third only to have the lead restored a minute later. Jake Berger turned away36 of 41 shots, and allowed more than 4 goals for just the 2nd time this year.
The Warriors are coming off a 5-2 loss to the Vernon Vipers in which they managed to tie the game at two before Vernon pulled away. Nik Amundrud got the start in the game and turned away 34 of 39 shots. The Warriors have gone 6-3 in October, but they come into this game on the heels of two losses.
The Cents and Warriors clashed earlier this season, the third game of the year, and the Warriors were able to get the win. They scored three throughout the game, and Cole Demers had a shutout until the final minute, when Jack Vincent broke the bid. The Cents will see Cole Demers once again in net, and statistically, he's the top net minder in the BCHL with a 1.38 goals against average and a .954 save percentage and a perfect 5-0 record. The Cents will look to give Demers the first blemish on that record.
The Warriors are led by Jared Marino, Calvin Tilsley, Michael Ryan, RJ Murphy, and Chase Dubois offensivley, all with over 10 points. Marino, the captain, leads the pack with 6 goals and 9 assists. However, the Warriors won't have goaltender Nik Amundrud or forward Calvin Tilsley in the lineup this afternoon. The Warriors finally busted their 0/18 slump last night on the powerplay and now sit at 18.9% for the season, and have the leagues third best penalty kill at 87.2%.
The Cents are led by Nick Wicks (15 points), Tyrell Buckley (11), Henry Cleghorn (10), Zach Zorn (10), and Zach Court (10) offensively, and have had no problems filling the net in the past few games. However, they've had trouble on the penalty kill where they've allowed 7 goals in the past two games, and their PK numbers have suffered as a result at 79.6%. Their powerplay got two against the Silverbacks last saturday, but couldn't manage to get one against the Smoke Eaters and now sits at 16.9%
Assistant Coach Matt Sampson says that a fast start is key.
"We'll need a fast start, I thought our start [on friday night] was a little sloppy, we'll need to get after them early, and get back on track here."
The Cents will look for the fast start and the strong finish this afternoon. Puck drop 2pm, Pre Game 1:45 with Jared Thomas on Q101.1 FM or on your desktop or device at q101.ca
If the game was left to 5 on 5 play, the Cents would have won 4-2, but there's a reason why they call penalties in the game, and the Cents allowed 3 goals while short handed falling 5-4 in a close one in front of the home fans, parents, and billets on the kick off to parents weekend at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.
The first period started well for the Cents as Nick Wicks was able to work it to the line to Sam Miller, who threw a shot on Tanner Marshall from the point, the puck deflected high into the air before bouncing off the back of Marshall and into the crease where Zach Court was able to push it across the line for the first goal of the hockey game. The Smoke Eaters were able to tie things up on a 5 on 3 powerplay with Matthieu Gosselin and Joey Berkopec in the box. The Smoke Eaters worked it around the perimeter and set up Seth Barton with a one-timer to tie things up at 1. However, the Cents regained the lead when a d man of their own jumped up into the play and was found by a feed from Christian Sabin from behind the Trail net. Tyrell Buckley was able to step into one and put it up and over the glove of Tanner Marshall for a 2-1 lead.
The second period went back and forth before Ashton Stockie had the ice breaker. Gosselin had the opportunity to break in, but couldn't get past the D so he dished to Stockie who walked in and went top shelf on Marshall to make it 3-1. Late in the second, the Cents got into penalty trouble,and the Smoke Eaters were able to add two more on two seperate powerplays. Andre Ghantous and Braeden Tuck got the goals past Jacob Berger who was making his league leading start after playing 809 minutes total leading into the game. After 40 minutes the teams were tied 3-3.
The tie didn't last long into the 3rd period as the Smoke Eaters got the early go ahead goal. Spencer McLean found the loose puck in the slot and roofed it on Berger to make it 4-3. Tyrell Buckley provided some late game heroics, tying the game at 4-4 with 3:44 to go, but just a minute later Levi Glasman scored a wrister from the outside to beat Berger and restore the lead 5-4, and that was the closest the Cents would come despite pulling the goalie.
After the game Assistant Coach Matt Sampson said that the Cents have to be better prepared.
"Our start of periods, and our shifts after goals need to be better if we want to have success."
The Cents will have a night off for the Ice Breaker, before hosting the West Kelowna Warriors on Sunday Afternoon. Puckdrop at 2pm, Pre Game at 1:45 with Jared Thomas on 101.1 FM or stream on your desktop or device on q101.ca.