The Centennials are back in action tonight after a long week off. It's their first game at home since an October 29th contest against the West Kelowna Warriors where they won 5-1. They hope to continue their winning ways at home, as they're coming off a loss last week against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks that left a sour taste in their mouths losing 5-3 after heading into the 3rd period with a 3-2 lead.
The Cents won't get an easy pass tonight as the Vernon Vipers are currently the Interior Division and league leaders with 36 points. They won their last game 3-2 in double overtime against the West Kelowna Warriors, and before that lost a 4-1 matchup against Penticton, however, before that loss to Penticton they were unbeaten in their last 7 dating back to October 21.
Head Coach and General Manager Joe Martin knows that the matchups won't be easy for his squad.
"The Vipers have a very deep forward group, they have good defensemen, and they have two good goaltenders. There's no line that you can take advantage of."
The last time these two teams faced each other was back in the third game of the season. Vernon ended up taking the game with Niko Karamanis getting credit for both goals, and Keyvan Mokhtari getting 2 assists. Ty Taylor earned the shutout.
The Cents are much improved since the early season, but the Vipers have also bettered themselves. Despite the point gap in the standings, on special teams the battle is much closer. On the powerplay, the Vipers edge the Cents by .2% with a 21.7% conversion rate compared to the Cents 21.5%. The teams 4th and 5th respectively on the powerplay. And on the penalty it's the Cents who hold the slight edge with an 81% kill rate compared to the 80.9% of the Vipers. It's also a battle of league leaders when it comes to short handed goals, the Vipers have 9 while the Cents are just behind them with 7.
In net, the Vernon Vipers have the edge with the best goaltending tandem in the BCHL. Anthony Yamnisty and Ty Taylor both have solid numbers and wins in their columns. Yamnisty has the edge statistically with a 6-4-0-1 record and a 2.13 GAA to go along with a 92.8 save percentage and 1 shutout. Taylor has the edge in wins however as he's only tasted defeat once with a 10-1-0-3 record, a 2.26 GAA, and a 91.8 save percentage and 2 shutouts.
The Cents will turn to their tandem of Jake Berger and Austin Roden. Berger no longer the league leader in minutes played as he's been surpassed by Braedon Flemming, but has a record of 7-10-2-0 with a 91.3 save percentage a 3.15 GAA and one shutout. The recently acquired Austin Roden has one tie in action with the Cents a 3-3 affair against the team that will visit tomorrow night, the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. In that game, he was sensational in the first period where the Cents were outshot 17-4, he finished with 37 saves on 40 shots and 3 goals against.
The Cents will try to play spoiler to the best team in the league when they visit the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena tonight at 7pm. Pre Game Show at 6:45 with Jared Thomas on Q101.1 FM, or stream on your desktop or device at q101.ca.
The Merritt Centennials travelled to the Shaw Centre for the final time already this season, and for the second time in three trips the Cents had the opportunity to catch the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in the standings. The first time, in early October the Cents suffered their most resounding defeat of the season 7-4, and tonight they may have suffered one of their most deflating losses on the year 5-3.
The first period was exactly as Assistant Coach Matt Samson scripted it, a strong first 10 minutes capped off by a powerplay goal from Brad Cocca at the 9:04 mark after a beautiful cross ice saucer pass from Jackson Munro following a feed from the line from Colten Gerlib.
The Cents finished the period strong courtesy the Captain, Tyrell Buckley, who cheated down from the left point and was found with a brilliant pass from the right side corner to the left inside hashmark, and Buckley went top shelf over Kyle Dumba who got the start in net for the Silverbacks.
After 20 minutes of play Jacob Berger remained unscathed on 11 shots, and Dumba had surrendered 2 goals on 15 shots.
The Cents wouldn’t remain unscathed in the second period. Trevor Adams was found down low after a turnover at the line by Hudson Schandor, and Adams was able to fire it past Berger to get the ‘Backs within one 2-1.
5 minutes later at the 13:39 mark Matthieu Gosselin was able to bat home the rebound off a Munro point shot to restore the two goal lead for the Cents.
The two goal lead would only last 3 minutes as the Cents surrendered a powerplay to the top ranked team in the league late in the second and the top scorer on the Silverbacks, Rheett Kingston was able to score.
The third period saw the Cents kill off some penalties early before surrendering the tying goal at the 7:53 mark from Adams for his second of the night, and under a minute later the Silverbacks got their first lead of the game from their Captain, Grayson Constable.
Constable would add one late to put the game out of reach 5-3.
After the game, Head Coach Joe Martin said that he felt his club didn’t come to play in the third.
“Their veteran players out played our veteran players. Our older players were -2 in that period, and that was the difference.”
The Cents unbeaten streak stops at 4, and they won’t get a chance to avenge this loss until next Friday when they face the visiting, league leading Vernon Vipers at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.
The 7th place in the Interior Division Merritt Centennials enter tonight's contest just one point back of the 6th place club the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. The Cents have played one less game than the 'Backs and have an opportunity to leap frog them with a regulation win. However, the last time Merritt was in a position to catch Salmon Arm they suffered their most complete loss of the season 7-4 in early October. In mid-October, the Cents were able to win a special teams battle against the Silverbacks in which the Cents scored 2 on the powerplay, 1 short handed, 1 at 4 on 4, and 1 at 3 on 3, for a 5-4 victory in Double OT.
The Cents will look to extend their unbeaten streak to 5 games in their lone game this weekend, while the Silverbacks come into this game on a 3 game losing streak. The Cents streak started two weeks ago on Sunday against the West Kelowna Warriors who they were able to dominate 5-1, then carried that momentum into BC's capital where they trounced the Victoria Grizzlies 6-0, had their lone tie of the year to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 3-3, and finished strong against the Surrey Eagles 5-4.
After the weekend, in which the duo of Henry Cleghorn and Zach Zorn were red hot, Zorn moves into the team lead in points with 18, followed by Cleghorn and Wicks at 17, all of whom are in the top 35 in league scoring. The Cents now boast 10 skaters who have at least 10 points as well. The Silverbacks have 13 10-point scorers on their squad, led by Rhett Kingston who has 19 points.
However, the Cents team defense is something that seperates them from other teams in the league. Despite being two games under .500, the Cents still have a positive goal differential at +3, while the Silverbacks who have scored the same amount of goals as the Centennials have a -21 differential with 90 goals against.
The Cents continue to crawl up the league standings in regards to special teams where they are now 6th in the league on the powerplay, but will have to be wary of the top ranked powerplay in the league from the 'Backs who scored 4 powerplay goals the last time out against the Cents. Despite being tops in the league on the powerplay, the penalty kill for the Silverbacks in hovering down at the bottom of the league at 76.4%, while the Cents are in the middle of the pack with an 81% kill rate, but a league second best 7 shorthanded goals for.
In net, the Cents will turn to the man who's seen more starts than any goaltender in the league, Jake Berger. He's 7-9-2-0 with a 3.03 GAA and a .916 save percentage with 1 shutout on the year. He will most likely be squaring off against Bo Didur for the Silverbacks who is 4-8 with a 4.18 GAA and a .867 save percentage.
This will be the final game at the Shaw Centre before the season series switches over to the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena. You can catch the action live at 7pm, with the Pre Game Show starting at 6:45 with Jared Thomas on Q101.1FM or on your desktop or device at q101.ca.
Merritt Centennials have made a deal with Interior Division rival Penticton Vees sending the CHL/ BCHL rights to defenseman Jordan Henderson for future considerations.
The 1997 born Henderson has spent 158 career games in the WHL with Spokane, Saskatoon, and Medicine Hat and has 7 goals and 29 assists for 36 points over that time.
After the trade was completed, Henderson signed with the Vees.
The trade is the second this week from General Manager Joe Martin after Alex Bourhas was sent to the Nepean Raiders for future considerations.
The Merritt Centennials announced today that they have traded forward Alex Bourhas to the Nepean Raiders of the Central Canada Hockey League for future considerations.
With the acquisition of Brad Cocca earlier in the year, the Cents have been carrying an extra forward on the roster.
Head Coach and General Manager Joe Martin said that the move was made to make room for a veteran.
"“With Chase Bell coming off injured reserve, we needed to make room on our roster for a forward.”
The move means that Chase Bell will most likely draw into the lineup against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on Friday night, where the Cents have a chance to catch the Silverbacks in the standings.