Merritt Centennials
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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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The Merritt Centennials (16-9-0-1) welcome the Trail Smoke Eaters (10-10-4-2) to the NVMA for the first meeting of the season. 

The Centennials are coming off a bounce back 3-2 win over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks after falling earlier in the week to the Wenatchee Wild by the same score. The Cents got a gutsy performance from Austin Roden, who earned a 3rd star nod for stopping 24/26 shots. Nick Granowicz was in on all the offense as he finished the game with two shorthanded goals and an assits, Christian Sabin had the other goal, and Brad Cocca tallied two assists. Matt Kopperud could suffer some supplemental discipline after getting a five-minute major and a game misconduct for a high hit. The strange thing was that the call was made well after the hit, and only after the player was clearly hurt on the play. The Cents exchanged two shorthanded goals for, for two powerplay goals against on the major, but that was the most exciting moment of the game. Austin Roden held the fort in the third as the Cents hung on for the win, the only team to beat Salmon Arm in regulation this year, and the only team to do it twice. 

The Smoke Eaters are starting to turn it around after a dreadful stretch of play that saw them lose 8 straight. They are 3-2 in their last 5, and every game has been a one-goal contest. Gone are the likes of highlight reel forwards Ross Armour and Kale Howarth, but the Smoke Eaters are still finding scoring throughout the lineup with 81 goals for through 26 games. The Smokies are coming off two wins this week against Vernon and Wenatchee by matching 3-2 scores. 

The season series favoured the Cents last year as they went 4-2 against the Smokies. The teams combined for 40 goals over 6 games, so offense was not in short supply. 

The Cents are hoping for more offense from Brad Cocca who has now moved to 2nd in league scoring with 37 points, Nick Granowicz is right behind him with 36 points for 3rd in the BCHL and with his two shorthanded goals last night, now leads the league in goals with 20, and Mathieu Gosselin still holds down the 6th spot with 32 points. 

Trail is led by newly acquired Chase Stevenson and Carter Jones with 22 points, Braeden Tuck has 21, and rookie Kent Johnson has 20. 

The special teams battle sees the Centennials looking to break a goal scoring slump with the extra man that has seen the go 0/11 in the last two games:

Powerplay                                Penalty Kill

Cents - 18.1% (10th)               Cents - 76.7% (15th)

Smokies - 20.8% (4th)             Smokies - 76.1% (16th)

The goaltending match up sees Austin Roden coming off a win against Salmon Arm. Now 10-5 with a .891 SV%, a 3.62 GAA, and 1 shutout. Vincent Duplessis is 6-4 with a .908 SV% and a 3.23 GAA. The Smokies have leaned on Adam Marcoux who is 8-10 with a .888 SV% and a 3.28 GAA while Tanner Marshall is 2-4 with a .884 SV% and a 3.22 GAA. 

Head Coach Joe Martin says that despite the team losing some top end talent, the game won't be easy. 

"They may not have those two special players anymore, but they have a very balanced attack, with four lines that can bite you. We will have to stick to our game plan and be ready for them."

For fans looking to get their hands on a limited edition Centennials Cancer Awareness Jersey you can do so when you pledge at least $10 towards your favourite Centennials in the Movember waxing challenge. Find Melanie in the Mezzanine tonight to make a pledge! 

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

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The Cents went into hostile territory and did what only they have done before by coming away with a 3-2 win against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.

The first period saw the Cents spend a lot of time early in their own zone, but on their first foray into the offensive end with some extended pressure they’d convert. Christian Sabin poked the puck across the line after being set up by Nick Granowicz and Brad Cocca. Despite chances on the powerplay that goal would stand up as the lone one of the first. Austin Roden made the start for the Cents and stopped all 6 shots he faced in the first while the Cents fired 9 shots on net.

The middle frame saw the Cents squander two more chances on the powerplay before Matt Kopperud was sent off after a hit up high on Hudson Schandor. Initially there was no call on the play, but after Schandor laid on the ice for a time, got some attention from the trainer, the refs assessed a 5 minute major to Kopperud and a game misconduct. The Cents would actually convert first shorthanded. Nick Granowicz picked the pocket of goalie Matt Armitage and tucked it into the open cage to make it 2-0. The Silverbacks wasted no time after that, scoring two quick answering goals within a minute. However, Granowicz wasn’t done with just one short handed goal, he’d add another on a 3-2 rush with Brady Ziemer and Brad Cocca to make it 3-2. Shots after 2 were 28-15.

In the third the Cents had to kill off some penalties, and thanks to the play of Austin Roden escaped with the victory as they hung on to win 3-2. Final shots were 33-26 in favour of the Cents, but the team went 0/5 with the extra man, and is now on a 0/11 dry spell in the last two games combined.

3rd Star: Austin Roden - 24/26

2nd Star: Trevor Adams - 1G 1A

1st Star: Nick Granowicz – 2G (SH) 1 A

After the game, Head Coach Joe Martin identified the characteristics that help his two best players pick up points.

 “I think Cocca and Granowicz just want it more than everyone else, and that’s why when you put them together they are lethal out there. They have the skills, but they also work harder than the opponent, and that sets the tone for the team.”

The Cents return home to face the Trail Smoke Eaters tomorrow night at the NVMA.

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The Merritt Centennials (15-9-0-1) go into the confines of the Shaw Centre to take on the Silverbacks (13-8-1-0) tonight.

The Cents are coming off a disappointing 3-2 loss against the Wenatchee Wild at home. The period started with promise, and the Cents dinged a couple posts early off shots from Brady Ziemer and Christian Sabin. The Cents would get the only goal of the period from Matt Kopperud late to take a one goal lead into the second. Kopperud would convert early in the 2nd, but after that it was all Wild as they slowly started to take control of the game. The Wild would score two in the second period to tie things heading into the third, and make it three unanswered to win the game. Nick Wicks and Mathieu Gosselin both finished the game with 2 assists, and Vincent Duplessis would shoulder the loss stopping 33/36 shots.

The Cents look to regroup against a division rival tonight, and one that hasn't been too accommodating in it's home building. The Salmon Arm Silverbacks post a 10-1-1-0 record at home, but the Cents will take solace in the fact that they were the lone team to beat them in regulation. The season series sees the Cents with a 2-1 edge. They dropped the season opener 4-2 in Salmon Arm, then returned a week later to top the 'Backs 5-2, and more recently the Cents shutout the Salmon Arm at the NVMA 5-0. Offense has come from all over in the season series as the Cents have 10 different players who have tallied goals against Salmon Arm, and following a night where only one line was going it will take contributions from the whole lineup to get the W.

Salmon Arm is playing pretty hot as of late, they are 4-1 in their last 5 games with the lone blip coming against the Penticton Vees last weekend. In their most recent games the 'Backs fell 4-2 against the Vees before bouncing back with a 4-3 victory in OT against the Vernon Vipers. The Cents should be wary of extra time against Salmon Arm as the 'Backs are 4-1 in games that go beyond 60 minutes.

The Cents top weapons were held off the score sheet against the Wild, but hold down their BCHL rankings: Brad Cocca is 3rd with 35 points, Nick Granowicz is 4th with 33 points, and by virtue of picking up 7 assists over the last 3 games Mathieu Gosselin has moved up to 6th in scoring in the BCHL with 32 points.

The Silverbacks don't have any scorers in the top 20, but have been getting it done by committee. Rookie Matthew Verboon leads the way with 20 points, Trevor Adams and Hudson Schandor are tied with 17 points, and Noah Wakeford has 16.

The special teams battle sees the Silverbacks with the edge:

Powerplay:                                         Penalty Kill:

'Backs - 19.8% (8th)                      'Backs - 82% (8th)

Cents - 18.7% (10th)                    Cents - 77.5% (15th)

The goaltending battle sees Vincent Duplessis coming off a loss, but a strong performance, and Austin Roden sitting on an 8-3 win against the West Kelowna Warriors. Roden is 9-5 with a .889 SV%, a 3.74 GAA, and 1 shutout. Duplessis is now 6-3-1 with a .908 SV% and a 3.23 GAA. For the Silverbacks, Ethan Langenegger is 9-7 with a .913 SV% and a 2.96 GAA. Newly acquired Matthew Armitage is 2-1 with a .922 SV% and a 2.62 GAA.

Head Coach Joe Martin anticipates his team having a solid bounce back game against a tough opponent.

"The Silverbacks are a strong club, they have depth throughout the line up, and they've been playing well at home. It will take us really sticking to our game plan to come out on top."

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

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The Merritt Centennials were looking to complete the 4 game homestand with 4 wins, but the Wild would spoil perfection by winning 3-2 on Wednesday night. 

The Centennials and Wild went back and forth in the first, penalties came heavily on both sides, but no team was able to capitalize with the extra man. Late in the period at the 16:35 mark, Matt Kopperud found some open ice on the left side after a turnover and blasted a laser past Cal Sandqvist for the lone goal of the first. Vincent Duplessis stopped 13 shots in the first, and Sandqvist stopped 8/9. 

In the second, the Cents continued their strong play with Kopperud converting just 3:46 into the frame, but the Wild bounced right back with a goal from Jacob Modry that found it's way through the crowd and beat Duplessis just over the right pad. The Wild then seized momentum and spent the majority of the second in the Centennials zone, and capitalized off a blue line turnover at the 10:31 to make it 2-2. The scoreline would hold to the end of the period. After 2 shots were 25-19 in favour of the Wild. 

The final frame saw the Cents make a good push out of the gate, but the Wild slowly imposed their will. With nearly 14 minutes gone in the 3rd, the Cents were caught puck watching as Murphy Stratton gained the zone and killed some time along the half-wall before centering for Matt Dorsey to make it 3-2. The Cents would push and pull the goalie, but the Wild would hang on. Vincent Duplessis picked up the loss with 33 saves on 36 shots while Cal Sandqvist recorded the win with 25 saves on 27 shots. 

Energy Player of the Game: 

Vincent Duplessis - 33/36

3rd Star: Jacob Modry 1G

2nd Star: Matt Kopperud 2G

1st Star: Matt Dorsey 1 GWG

After the game Head Coach Joe Martin said a couple mistakes cost them. 

"There were a couple miscues out there that we wil look to address. We have some things that I'm circling for our meeting tomorrow morning, then we need an intense practice to get back to it."

The Cents will look to right the ship on the road when they face the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on Friday night, and then return home to the NVMA to face the Trail Smoke Eaters for the first time of the season on Saturday. 

 

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