The 1st in the Interior Division Merritt Centennials (10-6) have a date down under with the 5th in the Interior Wenatchee Wild (6-6-1) tonight.
The Cents are coming off their most complete game of the year, and third win in a row against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. Over their 3 game win streak the Cents have combined for 22 goals, including 5 on Wednesday night against the 'Backs. Vincent Guy kept and sniped on a two-on-one, Nick Granowicz used his size, speed, and skill to get behind the D and out wait the goaltender, Mathieu Gosselin flew across the crease and snuck one five hole, Ben Ward had his first of the season, and Captain Nick Wicks scored his first goal since the second game of the season as the Centennials blanked the Silverbacks 5-0. Austin Roden turned in his best effort of the year stopping all 34 shots for the shutout.
The Wild are coming off a shutout of their own against the Langley Rivermen defeating the out of division opponents 3-0. That halted a skid of 3 in a row for the Wild, including a 5-4 overtime loss to the Clippers in their only other home game of the year.
The last time the Wild and Cents met was in the second week of the season where the Cents were just finding their offensive form, and were able to come back in a game that saw a few lead changes and the Cents come out on top 7-5. Rylan Van Unen, Matt Kopperud (2), Brett Roloson, Brendan Schneider, Mathieu Gosselin, and Nick Granowicz all lit the lamp for the Cents in that contest, but were victimized early by the Wilds powerplay that went 3/3 in their first 3 opportunities. However, the Cents were able to stem the flow and finish 3/8 on the kill while going 1/3 on the PK. Austin Roden would pick up the W in the game.
Bradley Cocca stands alone as the top point producer in the BCHL with 24 points through 16 games, Mathieu Gosselin and Nick Granowicz are tied for 5th with 20 points a piece, and Brendan Schneider rounds out the top 10 with 17 points.
Captain Lucas Sowder leads the way for the Wild with 14 points, rookie Chistophe Fillion has 13 points, Matt Gosiewski and Christophe Tellier each have 12 points.
The special teams battle sees the Cents coming off back to back games where they've been perfect on the PK and they'll need to be strong against a very skilled Wild club. The Wild are 3rd in the league on the powerplay at 24%, but slide to 13th on the penalty kill with a 78.4% rate. The Cents recent success on the penalty kill has seen them move up to 15th now at 74.7%, and the powerplay also continues to improve now at 11th with a 16.4% conversion rate. Despite not having the best percentage in the league, the Cents have scored the most powerplay goals with 17 as they've drawn over 100 penalties already this season.
The battle in the crease sees Austin Roden coming off his best performance of the year - a 34 save shutout. He improves to 7-3 with an .894 SV% and a 3.36 GAA. Vincent Duplessis should see a start over the weekend and is 3-3 with a .885 SV% and a 3.57 GAA. The Wild have leaned on Austin Park this year and he is 4-3 with a 2.84 GAA and a .874 SV%. Rookie Cal Sandquist is 2-4 with a .862 SV% and a 3.13 GAA.
Head Coach Joe Martin says the Cents will have to ignore all the extra fan fare in the Wild's barn.
"The pre-game ceremony always seems to go on forever, but that's the case for both teams. We have to make sure that we're ready to jump out of the gates when the puck finally does drop and play our brand of hockey."
Puck Drop 7:05pm. Pre-Game 6:45 on Q101.1FM and Q101.ca.