The Merritt Centennials make their way back to the Prospera Centre for the first time since the BCHL Showcase to take on the Chilliwack Chiefs for the final time this season.
These two teams last met way back on October 18th and it was the Chiefs who pulled away with a 4-2 victory despite early goals from Mathieu Gosselin and Jack Vincent. Kaden Pickering had two goals for the Chiefs, and Skyler Brind'Amour and Jordan Roy added the others for the Chiefs.
A lot has changed since then personnel wise and team mentality wise, but both teams are starting to rebound in February with 3-3 records. The Cents have won 2 in a row and look to make it an official streak with a third win tonight, but the Chiefs are already on a 3 game bounce back after dropping 4 in a row to finish January and into February. Both teams are also still playing for playoff positioning, the Cents only trail Salmon Arm by 3 points, and a win tonight paired with a Grizzlies loss would bring them within one and make the matchup tomorrow mean all the more. The Chiefs are currently in a 3-way tie for 2nd in the Mainland Division, and with Prince George sitting clear in 1st place, teams are trying to avoid finishing as the 4th seed and being forced to travel all the way to PG for round one of the playoffs.
The focus tonight will be a matchup that on paper is very close. Merritt holds the edge in the goals for and against over the season, but the Chiefs do have some offensive weapons including: Captain Will Calverley with 43 points, Tommy Lee with 38, Corey Andonovski with 36, and defenseman Brian Allbee with 30. When you hold the top Cents up in comparison it's much the same: Henry Cleghorn back in the offense with 45 points, Nick Wicks with 39, Zach's Zorn and Court with 37, and D-man Tyrell Buckley with 33. Once again, the edge on paper atleast goes to the Cents.
On special teams, Merritt holds the edge on the powerplay, 8th in the league with 19% while Chilliwack is 12th with a 16.9% conversion rate. The Chiefs have the edge on the penalty kill where they sit third at 85.3%, while the Cents are 7th at 82.8%.
In net, the Chiefs have split duties between Mathieu Caron and Daniel Chenard, but the rookie Caron has been the one picking up the wins - 17-9-0-1 with an 89.3 SV% and a 2.71 GAA. Chenard is 8-15-0-2 with an 8-15-0-2 record, an 89.5 SV%, a 3.04 GAA, and 2 shutouts. Austin Roden has gotten the call for the last 3 games straight and has played great now 10-10-0-2 with a 92.7 SV%, a 2.53 GAA, and 2 shutouts. Jacob Berger should be poised to return to the crease on the weekend with a 12-21-2-0 record, a 90.6 SV%, a 3.41 GAA, and 2 shutouts.
The matchup may look even on paper, and that's why they play the games.
Puck Drop at 7pm from the Prospera Centre, Pre-Game at 6:45 with Jared Thomas on Q101.1FM or online at q101.ca.