The Merritt Centennials (20-26-4-1) prepare for their busiest week of the season as the Mainland Division's Langley Rivermen (22-18-10-2) come into the NVMA for their lone contest of the year. The Cents will travel to Chilliwack on Friday, then welcome Salmon Arm on Saturday, and Victoria on Sunday to make it 4 games in 5 days.
The Cents will be looking to ride the high of a win over the Cowichan Valley Capitals on the weekend. Despite it being the lone win on the road trip, there were a lot of good stories throughout the game when you consider it was Family Day long weekend. Island Natives Mattias Dal Monte and Austin Roden played a prominent role in the final game of the weekend. The team fueled up with a beautiful pre-game meal prepared at the Dal Monte household: pancakes, waffles, fruit, sausages, bacon, whipped cream, OJ and coffee. That gave the Cents some hunger to go after two points later on that afternoon.
Halfway through the second period with score 2-0 off powerplay goals from Tyrell Buckley and Mathieu Gosselin, Mattias Dal Monte found a deflection at the line and let it rip for his first goal in the BCHL in front of his mom, dad, and his grandparents that flew down from Kittimat to see him play.
Birthday boy Jackson Munro tallied the primary assist on an Ashton Stockie goal on the following shift in front of his mother who made the trip to the island to follow the team. With the score 4-0 into the final period, that left Austin Roden as the Centennial with something to play for. The Cents didn't add any more tallies to the scoreboard, but didn't allow any either, and Roden got his second shutout of the season in front of his parents, and grandparents.
The visiting Rivermen are coming off their first win in 5 tries, a 7-6 barn burner against the Surrey Eagles, so you know they're capable of offense. They're also capable of going to the box, with 832 penalty minutes they're the second most penalized team in the league behind the Capitals. The Cents are in the middle of the pack at 7th with 713 PIMS through the year. The Cents also have the edge in the goals-for department with a 160 goals on the year, that's 7 more than the Rivermen.
The Rivermen are known to explode for offense, but in games against the Interior in 2018 they've gone winless. However, these two teams have met once this season, way back at the BCHL showcase. With the Cents still trying to find their identity they fell 4-3. All their goals were scored in the second period, to lead 3-2 into the 3rd, but the Rivermen answered with two in the final frame including the game-winner which came shorthanded with 3 minutes to go.
Langley is led offensively by Brendan Budy with 46 points, and their other offenseive weapons are: Angus Crookshank (38), Joe Wojeichowski (28) and Eric Butte (28). The Cents are still led by Henry Cleghorn with 44 points, but he's on a bit of dry spell over the last couple weeks. Nick Wicks with 38 points has moved into 2nd in team scoring, and Zach Court is another hot hand in 4th with 35 points. The Cents now have 6 players with over 30 points, and 18 that have chipped in at least 10.
The special teams battle sees the Cents with the edge on both counts. 8th on the powerplay with 18.9% which has been improving in the last few games, and the penalty kill has gotten lots of work and the Cents sit 7th with an 82.6% kill rate. The Rivermen 15th on the powerplay with a 15.2% conversion rate, but in their last game they went 5/7 so they're hot. On the PK, the Rivermen 9th at 81.8%.
In net, the Cents will likely use both goaltenders equally over the next week. Jacob Berger is more rested and is 12-21-2-0 with a 90.6 SV%, a 3.41 GAA, and 2 shutouts. Austin Roden is coming off his 2nd shutout of the year, and is 9-10-0-2 with a 92.6 SV% and a 2.59 GAA. The Rivermen lean on Braedon Fleming who is the 2nd busiest goaltender with over 2400 minutes played, and is 18-22-0-1 with a 90.1 SV% and a 2.93 GAA. Chad Cromar is 4-6-0-1 with a 88.6 SV% and a 3.56 GAA.
The Cents will look to set the tone for the week with a strong effort against the Rivermen tonight.
Puck Drop 7pm, Pre-Game 6:45 with Jared Thomas on Q101.1FM or online at q101.ca.