Entering the third week of the season, the Centennials are still searching for their first win. The first four teams they played may be some of the top contenders in the Interior Division, but now the Cents will look for some wins outside of the division as they take on the top two teams in the Mainland Division in the early season the Prince George Spruce Kings and the Langley Rivermen.
The first game will be against the Langley Rivermen. Last year the Rivermen swept the two game set against the Cents beating them 2-1 at the George Preston Arena in Langley, and then defeating the Centennials on home ice 5-4 in overtime.
Expect another close game in this one as the Rivermen's games have all come down to the wire with all of their games being decided by one goal, including two overtime losses. Despite the losses in OT, the Rivermen currently sit second in the Mainland Division behind the Cents next opponent the Prince George Spuce Kings. Langley comes into action sporting a 1-0-2-0 record while the Cents are the only team in the BCHL without at least one point in the standings with a 0-4-0-0 record.
Early in the season, the Rivermen have 5 players on the roster who are producing at a point per game rate or higher and are led by Captain Brendan Budy, and Trevor St. Jean who have 5 points through 3 games. The Centennials have 6 players who are producing at half a point per game, and are led offensively by the Zack Zorn - Ashton Stockie - Brendan Schneider line which has contributed 6 of the 17 points so far this year.
Discipline issues continue for the Cents and it means that not only has the team been playing a man short, but it also puts key players into tough situations. Top players like Stockie, Zorn, and Schneider have to spend their time on the penalty kill instead of saving their energy for offense 5 on 5. However, in the third period of the last game in West Kelowna, the Cents were able to stay out of the box, and ended up winning the period with a late goal from Jack Vincent.
The Cents have looked to address their offense, and their defense by bringing in a right handed defenseman in Colten Gerlib in time for the showcase. With a year of junior hockey experience, Coach Joe Martin feels that Gerlib can supply some solid skating, and puck movement to help the Cents work the puck up ice.
Martin added that despite players coming and going around the league, Merritt needs to continue to build their identity and their skills together.
"It's about coaching, We've got to focus on the ones that we have, not the one's that aren't with us, and make these guys a better hockey club, and a better team."
The Cents hope to be the better team for the first time this season when they take on the Langely Rivermen for a 1pm puck drop at the Prospera Centre in Chilliwack this afternoon.