The Merritt Centennials are set to square off in their final game of the season on the road against the Langley Rivermen.
The Cents have locked up their playoff seeding, and now know who they'll play in the first round of the playoffs following their loss to the West Kelowna Warriors last night, but the Rivermen still have something to play for. Langley is looking to hold off challengers in the Mainland Division for that second seed, and as they don't have as many wins need to pick up points. The Cents will play Wenatchee in round 1 and last night on the post-game show Joe Martin said this will be the only game of the season that doesn't mean much, but that doesn't mean the Cents don't want to finish strong.
Merritt had their 6 game unbeaten streak snapped last night against the West Kelowna Warriors, falling in overtime 2-1. Despite a full house to take in the action in the home finale, the Cents couldn't muster the offense that they'd had early in the week. Flattering totals of 7-4 over the Trail Smoke Eaters and 6-1 over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks couldn't translate, and the only goal the Cents scored was credited to Christian Sabin despite being an own goal by the Warriors. Jake Harrison had one on the powerplay in the second, no scoring in the third, and in overtime with the Cents fate sealed Parm Dhaliwal gave the Warriors the win.
Tonight the Cents will be trying to iron out whatever kinks are left in their game, but after an unbeaten in 6 stretch they're probably feeling pretty good about the X's and O's. These teams last met just last week, and the Centennials came away with a 4-1 victory. Tyrell Buckley had the lone goal of the first before Henry Cleghorn, Christian Sabin, and Zach Court added goals in the second, Langley got one back from Jayden Lee in the third to break the shutout bid for Austin Roden. Since then the Rivermen have gone unbeaten, including a 5-3 upset over the Penticton Vees, but they're coming off a 2-2 tie against the Coquitlam Express.
Langley's top guns are Brendan Budy with 53 points, Angus Crookshank with 44, John Wojciechowski with 32, and Colin Bernard is their leading defenseman with 29 points. The Cents offense went silent last night save for Christian Sabin who's had a good week since returning to the lineup with 3 goals in that time and now up to 15 points, Nick Wicks will have one final game to see if he can catch Henry Cleghorn for the team lead as they are at 46 and 48 points respectively. The rookie Jackson Munro is now the leading point getter amongst defenseman in the absence of Tyrell Buckley with 21 points.
The special teams battle sees the Cents with the advantage, still in 4th with the man advantage at 20.9%, while the Rivermen are 14th at 15.4%. On the penalty kill the Cents at 6th 83% and the Rivermen 9th at 82.1%.
In net, the Cents will give Jacob Berger the final start of the season, he's 13-21-2-0 with a 90.6 SV%, a 3.43 GAA, and 2 Shutouts. With the season still meaning something to the Rivermen and Chad Cromar going down with injury the last game out against the Cents, we will likely see Braedon Flemming. Flemming is 20-22-0-2 with a 90.5 SV% and a 2.84 GAA.
Cents look to finish the season strong, as they head into the Wolves Den in round 1.
Puck Drop 7pm from the Lodge in Langley, Pre-Game 6:45 with Jared Thomas on Q101.1FM or online at q101.ca.