The Merritt Centennials rolled in hours late, and carried some of that adrenaline into the first period where they were able to get the early lead, but the Vipers lied in wait, maintained pressure and were eventually able to overcome with a 4-2 win.
The first period ended up starting 55 minutes behind schedule due to a bus breakdown 10 minutes out of Kamloops. The Cents didn't show any rust in the first however, as on one of their initial forays into the offensive zone Matthieu Gosselin, Chase Bell, and Henry Cleghorn crashed the net, and it was Cleghorn who got credit for poking the puck past the line on Ty Taylor who got the start in net for the Vipers.
Jacob Berger would stand tall throughout the first, and the Cents would reward him with another goal late on the powerplay. Chase Bell played the puck from the half wall cross ice to the left point for Colten Gerlib who wristed it bar down and in over the glove of Taylor for the goal to make it 2-0. Taylor allowed two goals on 7 shots, while Berger stopped all 11 he faced.
In the second, the Vipers started to flex their depth as shift after shift the Cents were being hemmed into their own zone, and only getting brief looks in the offensive end. Berger held them in it until late in the period, on the powerplay, Michael Young unloaded a one timer that beat Berger to the blocker side.
Just two minutes later, Berger would be victimized again, this one coming from an off speed shot by Josh Prokop that Berger easily handled, but kicked right onto the stick of Viper Captain Jagger Williamson who poked it across the line to tie the game late in the second period. Shots after two saw the Vipers leading 29-13.
In the third period, the Vipers continued to carry the momentum. At the 8:51 mark, just after a brilliant rush by Zach Court to try and restore the Centennials lead Keyvan Mokhtari skated the other way for the Vipers, crossed the blue line, and left a drop pass for Sam Anzai who made no mistake picking the top corner on Berger for the Vipers to take the league.
Later in the period, Berger would fall victim to another knuckle puck from Josh Prokop that would find it's way to Williamson in the slot who would get another easy one for the 4-2 lead.
Despite a late powerplay, and push by the Centennials with the net empty, they couldn't get it any closer than that.
The Cents have the day off today before facing the Nanaimo Clippers in their final game before the Christmas break tomorrow at 2pm at the NVMA.
Puck drop 7pm, Pre Game with Jared Thomas at 6:45 on Q101.1FM or online at q101.ca.
The Cents are off to one of their best Decembers in years thanks to going 4-1, but the Vipers may be the only team in the league that's hotter as they've rallied of 5 straight wins in December. It all sets up a match up of two of the hottest teams in the Interior Division and the BCHL tonight.
Merritt is still looking for their first win of the year over the Vipers in this their third matchup of the season. So far the Vipers have topped the Cents 2-0 and 3-2 throughout the season. The last matchup back on November 17th saw the Vipers hurl 53 shots on net, and if not for the stellar play of Austin Roden in net the scoreline could've been a lot less flattering than 3-2. The Cents did manage to stay in the game, but couldn't get the tie after Henry Cleghorn got on the board in the second and Brendan Schneider got a goal in the final frame.
The Cents are coming off a road win, and are looking to make it three in a row after winning 5-3 against the Trail Smoke Eaters on Tuesday. The Cents controlled play throughout the majority of the game, and without a number of regulars, were still able to pull off the win. Captain Tyrell Buckley, Jackson Munro, Mattias Dal Monte and Jack Vincent were all sidelined with a flu, and affiliate player's Frazer Dodd, Joel Patsey, and Jacob Bourchier drew into the line up. The AP's did more than just fill in, as two of them got on the scoresheet. Dodd was a big part of the Cents first goal, Patsey got his first in the BCHL in the second, and Bourchier flexed his physical muscle and was steady on the backend.
The Vipers possess the leagues 3rd best offense with 125 goals for, and are equally responsible on defense with the 2nd best defense with 74 goals against. The Centennials are sitting with the 10th best offense in the league with 106 goals for, and are 7th best in the league defensively with 99 goals against.
The players putting the puck in the net for Vernon include: Jimmy Lambert (43), Brett Stapley (38), Michael Ufberg (32), and Jagger Williamson (31). They also have 9 skaters with over 20 points, and 12 with over 10.
The Cents now have a top 20 BCHL scorer in Henry Cleghorn with 32 points, Zach Zorn has 29, Nick Wicks 23, and Tyrell Buckley 22, and while they only have 4 skaters with over 20 points, they also have 12 scorers with over 10 points.
The special teams battle will see the Vipers hold a slight advantage. On the powerplay they're 8th in the league at 20.1% while the Cents are 9th at 19.3%, and they hold the edge on the penalty kill as well at 4th and 83.3% while the Cents are 9th at 82.1%. It's also a battle of the most dangerous teams shorthanded as the Vipers have 11 goals with a man short, and the Centennials have 10.
In net the Vipers have the top tandem in the league in Ty Taylor and Anthony Yamnistsky. Taylor is 13-2-0-3 with a 92.6 SV% a 2.04 GAA and 3 Shutouts. Yamnitsky is 10-6-0-1 with a 92.4%, a 2.04 GAA and 2 Shutouts. Needless to say the Cents will need to throw a lot of rubber on these goaltenders to test them.
The Cents will turn once again to Jacob Berger who picked up the win against the Trail Smoke Eaters. He played great, like the rest of the team, through the first 58 minutes, but allowed 3 goals in the third period after the team let the foot off the pedal. Berger is now up to 10 wins on the year at 10-13-2-0 a 91.2 SV%, a 3.22 GAA and 2 shutouts on the year.
Assistant Coach Matt Sampson says that he looks forward to have some extra room in Vernon.
"They're one of the teams in the league that's best suited to play in the NVMA, so we're looking forward to having a bit of extra ice to use our speed."
Puck drop is 7pm, Pre Game at 6:45 with Jared Thomas on Q101.1FM or online at q101.ca.
Trail has been good to the Merritt Centennials so far this season, as they collected another two points against the Smoke Eaters at the Cominco Arena with a 5-3 win. The Cents were without 4 of their regular players in Captain Tyrell Buckley, Jackson Munro, Mattias Dal Monte, and Jack Vincent (plus Rylan Van Unen was away with Team Canada West), and had 3 Affiliate Players in the line up: Frazer Dodd, Joel Patsey, and Jacob Bourchier.
The game wasn’t lacking in pace from the get go, as there were plenty of turnovers, and plenty of line rushes, but it was a turnover in the corner that led to the Cents first goal. At the 7:11 mark AP Call up Frazer Dodd helped dig a puck loose in the corner, and played it behind the net to Christian Sabin who found Matt Kopperud in the high slot with a pass to get the Cents on the board 1-0. It would be the only goal of the period. Jacob Berger turned aside 12 shots in the first, while recently acquired Adam Marcoux stopped 9/10.
In the second period the Cents widened the margin, and it started with an AP getting his first in the BCHL. Joel Patsey collected the puck after some Centennials Pressure in the Smoke Eaters end, and from the left point wired a wrister top left corner and in to make it 2-0 at the 7 minute mark.
The Cents converted on the powerplay late in the period to gain a three goal lead after a scramble in the slot led to Chase Bell feeding Matthieu Gosselin in tight, and he was able to maneuver his stick to get a shot away and beat Marcoux mid-blocker side.
The third period started with a whimper, but finished with a flurry. No goals were scored until the latter half of the period. Mack Byers scored at the 11:04 mark, his first in the BCHL as well.
In the final three minutes, four goals were exchanged and it started with Zach Zorn finding the puck out front after a strange turnover behind the net. Marcoux was caught out of his crease, and Zorn put it into the empty cage. Trail answered right back with a goal from Daine Dubois, but a minute later with the net actually empty, Brad Cocca got sprung and was able to put the puck in. Then just as play headed into the final minute Troy Ring got his second of the season, but it was Spencer McLean who did the leg work deking in trough the Cents defense to find Ring to the side of the net with a good look on Berger to make it 5-3.
After the game Coach Matt Sampson said you couldn’t ask for much more from the AP’s.
“It was a great game by them. You had Bourchier taking a ferry from Revelstoke to be here. You had Patsey playing solid on the back end, and getting a goal for us, and you had Frazer who was responsible and was able to get on the scoresheet as well. Definitely couldn’t have asked for much more.”
The Cents are next in action on Friday night against the league leading Vernon Vipers in Vernon. Puck drop 7pm, Pre Game 6:45 with Jared Thomas on Q101.1FM or online at q101.ca.
The Centennials start off a three game week with a stop in Trail to take on the Smoke Eaters tonight.
The Cents are coming off a weekend split, and the Smokies snapped their longest losing skid of the year at 6 games with a 5-3 win over the West Kelowna Warriors.
Merritt is coming off a big win over Interior Division rival Salmon Arm on Saturday night, where they were finally able to break out of the basement of the division with a 4-1 win. Henry Cleghorn tallied a hat trick, and Zach Zorn added a Gordie Howe Hat Trick in the victory.
The Centennials have been hit by a pre-Christmas bug, and will be without a couple regulars: Captain Tyrell Buckley, Mattias Dal Monte, Jackson Munro and Jack Vincent. It means that the Centshave recalled a coule affiliate players who will get into the lineup: Frazer Dodd and Joel Patsey.
The Smoke Eaters are no strangers to playing without regulars as they continue to struggle without their top guns in the lineup: Levi Glasman, Ross Armour, and Seth Barton are all away at the World Junior A Challenge. Kale Howarth has also been absent from a number of games for the Smokies recently. Those players represent over 100 points offenseively.
Both teams will have to make due with what they have. The Cents will look to the hot hands and team leaders up front Henry Cleghorn and Zach Zorn. Cleghorn now has 31 points, is producing at over a point per game rate, and is tied for the league lead in shorthanded goals with team mate Zach Zorn with 4.
Even without their big guns, Trail still has plenty of firepower. Jeremy Lucchini, Carter Jones, Andre Ghantous, and Tyler Ghirardosi all have over 20 points for the leagues highest powered offense.
Having the league’s top powerplay doesn’t hurt either. Trail now converting on 22.3% of their chances, while the Cents are 9th in the league at 19.4%. Trail’s penalty kill, not nearly as stellar as their powerplay: 14th in the league at 79.3%. The Cents statistically aren’t much better at 11th and a 81.6% conversion rate, but have the second most short handed goals with 10.
Trail made a move to shore up their goaltending by acquiring Adam Marcoux from the Cowichan Valley Capitals while releasing Brandon Wells. Tanner Marshall remains with the team. Marcoux Was 2-19-2 with a 88.8 SV% and a 4.58 GAA for a struggling Capital team this year, while Marshall is 8-3 with a 3.56 GAA and a 89,9 SV%.
Jacob Berger will get the start tonight. He was pulled in his last start after allowing 5 goals on 19 shots against the Wenatchee Wild, but was perfect in his game prior to that a 4-0 win over the Trail Smoke Eaters. Berger is 9-12-0-3 with a 3.23 GAA and a 91.2 SV% and will look to rebound tonight.
After the Centennials had their 3 game win streak snapped against the Wenatchee Wild they look to begin a new one, by stringing two together with a win over the Smoke Eaters.
Puck Drop 7pm, Pre Game 6:45 with Jared Thomas on Q101.1FM or online on your desktop or device at q101.ca.
The Cents and Silverbacks squared off in a battle of the basement of the Interior Division last night, and for the first time this season Merritt finally put some seperation between them and 7th place with a win over Salmon Arm 4-1.
In the first it was Silverback goaltender Kyle Dumba who stole the show, stopping a multitude of chances for the Centennials despite 25 shots thrown on net and 18 shots in the first ten minutes. He kept the game scoreless, as did Austin Roden who got the start for the Cents, but was far less busy in the first only stopping 7 shots.
The second period is when the Cents finally got to Dumba, after wearing him down the 30th shot was the charm, and it was lucky number 13 and leading scorer Henry Cleghorn who got the Cents on the board. Matthieu Gosselin was checked off the puck at the blue line but managed to get the puck ahead, Cleghorn skated onto it, cut to the middle, and wripped a wrister blocker side to make it 1-0 at the 6:03 mark of the second.
Cleghorn wasn't done there, as later on in the period the Silverbacks were on the powerplay, and Cleghorn was able to find some room, after getting partially sprung by Zach Zorn, and wristed another blocker side past Dumba. That gave the Cents the 2 goal lead heading into the third.. Dumba stopped 34 of 36 shots, while Roden stopped all 20 through two.
In the third, the 'Backs were pressing for the equalizer, and it was their leading goal scorer Rhett Kingston who got them on the board 6 minutes in with a power move to the outside on the left wing, and a hard cut to the net where he was able to tuck the puck five hole on Roden to cut the lead in half at 2-1.
The Cents were able to pull away thanks to the hat trick goal from Henry Cleghorn. Once again he found room on the left wing after a pass from Gosselin, and this time he sniped it mid-glove on Cleghorn to make it 3-1, and bring some hats to the ice. It's the first HatTrick of the Cents season.
Not to be outdone, Zach Zorn found the rebound off a nice give and go play from Schneider and Stockie. Dumba kicked out a huge rebound, and a streaking Zorn was able to get it back on net quickly to cement the lead at 4-1.
Zorn wasn't done there as he decided to drop the gloves for round two against Demetri Kambeitz of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. The two had fought in the last game in Salmon Arm, but this time it was Zorn who got the better of the exchange throwing a flurry of rights and lefts, knocking off Kambeitz's helmet, and even scoring an early takedown before they came back to their feet before the linesman eventually came in, That gave Zorn the Gordie Howe Hat Trick.
Roden finished the game with 39 saves on 40 shots, and Dumba stopped 42 of 46.
After the game Coach Matt Sampson said that he had a chat with Cleghorn about being responsible.
"I had a chat with him this afternoon, and I told him that we do look for him for offense, but he has to be responsible in his own end. If he takes care of his defense, the offense will come, and it came tonight and I'm really proud of him."
The Cents will have a short week of preparation as they next face the Trail Smoke Eaters in Trail on Tuesday night. Puck Drop at 7pm, Pre Game 6:45 with Jared Thomas on Q101.1FM or stream online on your desktop or device at q101.ca.