The Merritt Centennials got an unexpected game off last night, and hope the extra rest can help them prepare for the Victoria Grizzlies who are in town for a matinee contest.
The Grizzlies did the Cents a favour on Friday night, topping the Salmon Arm Silverbacks 3-0, but last night they fell to the West Kelowna Warriors 6-3.
The Grizzlies win, paired with the Cents win over the Chilliwack Chiefs on Friday, set up a collision course with Salmon Arm that was delayed due to weather. But the game against the Chiefs saw both the goaltender and the team show their resilience. Bouncing back from an early goal from the Chiefs just 9 seconds into the game, the Cents scored 2 in the second frame from Wicks and Rylan Van Unen, and despite an early goal in the third to tie the game at twos, Zach Risteau had the game breaker with 7 minutes to go in the 3rd and the Cents added two empty netters to pull out the 5-2 win.
In the only other meeting this season, the Cents rolled over the Grizzlies early with a 4-goal first period on route to a 6-0 win. Chasing starter Zachary Rose, and facing a team without their rookie sensation Alex Newhook who for a time was leading the league in scoring.
The Grizzlies come into this contest on a bit of a roll, in February they were 5-0 before the 6-3 loss against the Warriors, but once again they will be without Newhook who was injured last week against Cowichan Valley. However, Jamie Rome is coming off player of the week honors and has 65 points, Ethan Nother has 54, TJ Friedmann has 52, and Justin Michaelian has 44 points.
The Cents have rallied off 3 straight wins and hope that streak continues. All the big guns have been picking up points lately for the Cents. Nick Wicks now has 41 points, Brendan Schneider has 31, Zach Court has 37, and Zach Risteau has 18 points in the 16 games since rejoining the club.
In special teams the Grizzlies own the top powerplay in the league at 22.3%, while the Cents are now 8th at 19.3%. On the penalty kill, the Cents have the slimmest of margins as they are 6th at 83% and the Grizzlies are 7th at 82.9%.
Austin Roden has been between the pipes for the last three Cents wins, and the coaching staff are riding the hot hand in net, and with the lineups. Expect Roden to start, now 11-10-0-2 with a 92.8 SV%, a 2.50 GAA and 2 shutouts. Roden has the 6th best GAA, and 2nd best SV% in the league.
The Grizzlies rely upon Zachary Rose and Kurtis Chapman in net. Rose is 16-13-0-1 with a 91.8 SV%, a 3.16 GAA and 2 shutouts. Chapman is 10-3-0-2 with a 92.5 SV% and a 2.88 GAA with 2 shutouts.
The Grizzlies are in a battle for first place in the Island Division, the Cents are looking to stay hot as they head into the playoffs.
Puck Drop 2pm, Pre-Game 6:45 with Jared Thomas on Q101.1FM or online at q101.ca.