The Merritt Centennials face their 3rd team of the week, against their 3rd Interior Division opponent: the West Kelowna Warriors. The Warriors sit in 5th in the Interior division at 24-23-1-1 while the Cents remain in 7th with a 18-24-4-1 record.
So far it's been the home teams who have taken each contest, with the Cents looking to buck that trend in the 5th contest of the season. The last game saw the Cents dominate at home exploding for 7 goals in a 7-4 win. Merritt had 7 different goal scorers: Joey Berkopec, Zach Court, Nick Wicks, Zach Zorn, Henry Cleghorn, Brendan Schneider and Rylan Van Unen all got on the scoresheet.
Both teams are coming off tight losses to Interior Division opponents. The Cents fell last night 3-2 against the Vees. Wicks and Colten Gerlib had goals in the first, but the Cents couldn't muster any more pucks across the goal line in the remaining 40 minutes, while the Vees scored 3 unanswered to take the game. The Warriors fell 5-4 against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks with both goaltenders seeing action, and RJ Murphy scoring a pair of goals. The 'Backs continue to pick up wins, and are now just two points behind the Warriors with 48 points, while the Cents are 7 points off the pace at 41.
RJ Murphy has been one of the hottest Warriors with points in his last 3 straight and 38 points, but the Warriors are led by Captain Jared Marino (50), Chase Dubois (43), and relative newcomer Ryan Steele (39) who they picked up at the trade deadline from the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.
The Cents look for contributions from Nick Wicks who picked up two in the last game, but need that clutch goal from one of their other stars. Ashton Stockie has been silent since the start of the new year, but has shown flashes, and Mathieu Gosselin came oh so close to getting one last night if not for an Adam Scheel paddle off the goal line.
The Warriors are one of the strongest teams on home ice and are 6 games over .500 with 15 wins, and the Cents are 6 games below .500 on the road with 7 wins in 20 tries. The last game played at Royal LePage place saw the Warriors run away on the scoreboard 7-3, and Head Coach Joe Martin get thrown out of the game.
The special teams matchup sees the Warriors with the edge on the powerplay where they are 6th in the league at 20.3%, while the Cents are still in 10th at 18.2%, but haven't been able to find consistency on their powerplay. On the penalty kill, the Cents hold the edge with an 81.2% kill rate but have fallen to 11th in the league. The Warriors have fallen further now at 15th with 78.2%.
In net the Cents will turn to Jacob Berger for a third straight game. 11-19-2-0 with a 3.31 GAA, a 90.9 SV%, and 2 shutouts. The Warriors have a decision on their hands as both goalies saw action last night. Nic Amundrud is 13-14 with a 90 SV%, a 3.38 GAA, and 1 shutout. Cole Demers is 10-8 with a 90 SV%, a 3.49 GAA, and 1 shutout.
The Cents have brought the intensity in the last two games, but haven't come out with a win. In this game they'll look to buck the trend of the home team taking the contest, and take a win back to Merritt.
Puck Drop 7pm, Pre-Game 6:45 with Jared Thomas on Q101.1FM or online at q101.ca.