Merritt Centennials
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The Cents won't have time to think about last nights contest against the Vernon Vipers as they will look forward to tonight's challenge, the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. 

Once again it's a very even matchup on paper, the Bulldogs and Centennials both with 19 points on the season, the Dogs with 2 more ties, the Cents with one more win. 

The last time these two teams played eachother was only two weeks ago on the Island swing, where the Bulldogs were the only team the Cents couldn't manage to top. The game went scoreless through the first period, the Cents were outshot 17-4 and got some stellar goaltending from Austin Roden. In the second, the Cents scored two powerplay goals, and one shorthanded marker for a 3 goal lead, but in the third luck turned against them where two goals went off their own defenseman, and one goal was a glaring giveaway up the slot. Overtime didn't settle anything, and the teams had to settle for a 3-3 tie. 

Since that 3-3 tie the Bulldogs have lost 3 straight to Victoria, Nanaimo, and Trail respectively, while the Cents have one win, but have followed it with two straight losses and look to avoid a 3rd straight tonight. 

On the Powerplay the Cents continue to improve now up to 21.9% with the man advantage and 4th in the league, Alberni Valley is 11th with a 17.5% conversion rate. On the penalty kill, the roles are reversed as the Bulldogs are 4th in the league with an 83.5% kill rate, while the Cents are 10th with 81.5%. 

The Bulldogs are lead offensively by a defenseman for the time being, Mitchell Oliver with 15 points, and have 8 players with over 10 points on the year, with four of them being rookies. Keaton Mastrodonato and Captain Ryan Steele are tied for second with 14 points. 

The Cents are led offensively by the dynamic duo in Zach Zorn and Henry Cleghorn, with 19 and 18 points, and now boast 10 players with over 10 points, with four rookies help carry the load. Mathieu Gosselin and Ashton Stockie lead the rookies in scoring with matching 4 goal and 10 assist seasons so far. 

The Bulldogs could turn to a goaltender who's familiar with the Cents and the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena in Colten Lancaster. In 10 games this year he's 1-8-0-1 with an .877 save percentage and a 4.16 GAA, however he did play strongly against the Cents in the last game in Alberni. John Hawthorne has the sexier numbers with a 6-5-0-2 record, 92.1% and a 2.83 GAA. 

After turning to Austin Roden last night, and he was phenomenal keeping the Cents in the game, Head Coach Joe Martin will likely go with Jacob Berger tonight. Berger is 7-10-2-0 in 19 games played this year with a .913 save percentage and a 3.15 GAA. 

Assistant Coach Matt Samson says the quest to get back on track starts tonight. 

"Focus for us is to get a strong start at home, I think it's a matter of getting on these guys early, and we need to realize that all these points are important no matter if it's Surrey, Vernon, or Alberni Valley and it starts tonight."

Puck Drop 7pm, Pre Game at 6:45 with Jared Thomas on Q101.1FM or stream live on your desktop or device at q101.ca. 

 

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