The Cents start the new year against the team they ended the old year against, as they travel to Coquitlam to take on the Express in a rematch trying to avenge a late night 5-2 loss they suffered the last time out.
That game saw the Express come in late, puck drop being delayed to 9:15, and the Cents dominate the 1st period. However, goaltender Clay Stevenson was able to hold the Express in the game and keep it scoreless throughout the 1st, and when the second began with a powerplay carried over, the Express converted. Josh Bruce had the goal, and minutes later Josh Wildauer got another on the powerplay. Colby Pederson got the Express out by three with a sharp angle short side shot, and that would end Jacob Berger's night. Ashton Stockie would get the Cents within two, but that would be as close as the Cents would get. Pederson tallied another to make it 4-1 in the third before Tyrell Buckley made it 4-2 on the powerplay. Eric Linell iced it with an empty netter to make it 5-2.
The Cents will use that game as motivation to start the new year off right. The Express despite being near the bottom of the league, have turned it around since making a head coaching change. They finished December 5-3 with big wins, over some of the biggest teams in the league. The Cents need to respect this rejuvenated club, and with no travel advisories in effect today, the game should start on schedule so that won't be a distraction.
The Cents will also need to respect the Express powerplay that went 2 for 3 in the last game, and took the wind out of Merritt's sails during the second period. The Express still sitting in 16th in the league with 12.7%, but sometimes numbers are just that. The Centennials sitting in 9th in the league with 19%, but they were having trouble getting a good flow going on their powerplay opportunities in the last game. On the other side, penalty kill wise the Cents 10th in the league at 81% and the Express 15th with 78%. As we saw last friday, special teams might be the difference.
Eric Linell continues to be the standout for the Express, while Zach Zorn has now slid into the team lead for the Cents. Rookie Josh Wildauer looked good last Friday and has 19 points on the year, while Colby Pederson had the hot hand with 2 goals. Tyrell Buckley will look to provide more offense from the back end, and the Cents need to see a little more from the line of Nick Wicks, Zach Court, and Brad Cocca.
In net, the Express might be turning back to Clay Stevenson after his first star performance on Friday, plus the injury to Brock Hamm. Stevenson now 3-10 with an 89 SV% and a 3.74 GAA. The Cents may decide to give Jacob Berger another chance in the crease, but lately the rock in net has been showing some inconsistency. He's gone from standout performances, to games where he's been chased from the net, and now sports a 10-14-2-0 record with a 90.8 SV% and a 3.31 GAA. Austin Roden allowed one goal in relief duties last Friday, and is 4-1-0-1 in a Centennials uniform with a 93.4 SV% and a 2.73 GAA.
The Centennials will look to start the new year off with the win they were looking for to end 2017.
Puck drop at 7pm, Pre Game at 6:45 with Jared Thomas on Q101.1 FM or online at q101.ca.