Merritt Centennials
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The Cents are looking for their first win of their 45th annual campaign as the Vernon Vipers come to town. So far the Centennials haven’t been able to overcome the Penticton Vees or the Wenatchee Wild, losing 4-2 and 5-3 respectively.

Discipline has been the biggest obstacle through two games for the Cents, as they’ve racked up a league leading amount of penalty minutes with 34. Head Coach Joe Martin says that his team needs to be better at recognizing what the referees are calling on the ice, and adjusting accordingly.

“A lot of that is in our hands to fix, they’re calling the right call, but we don’t have to put ourselves in those situations.”

Offensively the Cents have gotten contributions from some old and new players. Zach Zorn has had a goal in each game, Zach Court, and Tyrell Buckley are names you may recognize from returning players, but they’ve been helped out by newcomers: Jack Vincent, Alex Bourhas, Matthieu Gosselin, Brendan Schneider, and Ashton Stockie through two games.

The Vernon Vipers come into Merritt as the Interior Division leaders early in the season. They won both their games over last weekend in a double header against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks and lead the division with 4 points. They posted 5-1 and 6-5 wins over the ‘Backs, and were led offensively by Jagger Williamson and Jesse Landsdell in game one. Williamson had a goal and two assists, while linemate Landsdell had two goals and one assist. In their second game, Jimmy Lambert put the team on his back tallying 5 points on 6 goals for the Vipers, 2 goals and 3 assists respectively, on his way to being named the BCHL Player of the Week. The offense for the Vipers is already humming, and the Cents will need to be at their tight checking best to mitigate the number of quality chances on their goaltender.

Coach Martin expects the Vipers to present the same challenge as the Vees and the Wild.

“They have a deep forward group, some veteran defenseman returning, and quality goaltending. They’re no different than the other two teams we’ve seen.”

In the season series last year, the Cents bested the Vipers by getting wins in four of the matches they played, with a tie, and one loss. If not for a game seven loss to the Penticton Vees in the playoffs last season, we could have been talking about a Cents & Vipers 3rd round series a year ago.

The Centennials didn’t drop a game on home ice to the Vipers last season, winning 4-1, 3-0, and a 3-3 tie. Jake Berger played phenomenal in all three contests stopping 114 of 118 shots for a sparkling .966 save percentage. If Berger is able to replicate that kind of success for tonight’s game, it will go a long way to the Cents earning their first win of the season.

Puck drop will be at 7pm at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena for the first of six contests between these two clubs. Remember if you can’t make it to the game, you can listen on the radio, online at Q101.ca, or on your mobile device with the Q101 Merritt app.

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