The 1st in the Interior Division Merritt Centennials (11-6) will complete the double header against the 6th in the Interior Division Wenatchee Wild (6-6-2) tonight.
Last night saw the Cents survive a frustrating first 20. They couldn't get the puck out of their own zone, they couldn't complete a clean pass, they couldn't stick handle around the Wenatchee defense without having the puck poked off their stick by the active twigs of the Wild and thrown back into the Cents defensive end. Austin Roden stood tall in that first period making many key saves throughout, and despite only 10 shots getting thrown on net, it felt like 50 for a team that just couldn't get going offensively. Roden would allow one in the first frame and the Cents would be lucky to just be trailing 1-0. In the second, the Wild continued to frustrate, but the Cents started to get their legs as the period went on, and after the Wild widened the margin to 2-0 the Cents would climb back. Nick Wicks danced across the offensive blue line, skated across the ice, and then made a return course before dropping the puck on a platter for Mike Van Unen who sniped it glove high to cut the lead in half at 2-1. Then in the third the Cents offense came to life, and Nick Granowicz led the way. He silenced the house during their rowdy 'minute to win it' in the first minute of the third. The Wild would quickly regain their lead, but Granowicz would tie things up again by converting on a 2-on-1 play with Rylan Van Unen. That would send the game to overtime tied at threes, and would be the Cents first trip into the extra frame. As if by fate Nick Granowicz had a steal at his own blue line, flew down the right side of the ice, and then sniped one on Austin Park blocker-side for the game winner. The win was the Cents 4th in a row, and Austin Roden has started all four wins for the team.
The Wild have now lost 4 of the last 5, however, 2 of those games have been in overtime. They had numerous opportunities with their constant pressure early on in the game, but we will see how both teams adapt in a back-to-back situation.
The Cents continue to be led by Brad Cocca up front with 24 points, but with a monster 3 goal game Nick Granowicz moves into 3rd in league scoring with 23 points. Goose, Wicks, and Schneider all have spots in the top 20 with 20, 17, and 17 points each. Mike Van Unen and Jaydon Fetter represent the Centennials in the scoring race for D-men. Van Unen now has 3 goals and 10 points while Fetter has 9 assists as they look to break into the top 10.
The Wild had another strong game from their Captain Lucas Sowder who continues to be their top point producer with 16 points. Christophe Fillion has 13, and then they have 4 players tied with 12 points.
The special teams battle saw the penalty kill win out last night as both teams went 0-for. The Cents went 0/3 and the Wild went 0/4, but to the Cents credit they only had one complete 2 minute advantage. The Wild slide to 5th on the powerplay with a 20.6% conversion rate, while the Cents slide to 13th at 16%. The penalty kill got a bump, and the Cents are above 75% now at 76.1% for 15th in the league. The Wild are 11th at 79.6%. If a team can win the special teams battle tonight it could spell the difference.
The Cents have ridden Austin Roden to four wins in a row, and they'll look to do the same tonight. He's now 3rd in the league in wins with a 8-3 record with one shutout and continues to improve his stats, now at a 3.30 GAA and a .897 SV%. Vincent Duplessis will have to wait and be sharp when his opportunity comes between the pipes. He's 3-3 with a .875 SV% and a 3.57 GAA. Austin Park is now 4-4 with an .876 SV% and a 2.94 GAA with one shutout. Cal Sandquist could get the start in a back-to-back situation and is 2-4 with a .862 SV% and a 3.13 GAA.
Head Coach Joe Martin said the Cents will have to be wary of the Wild forecheck if they want to take 2/2 in Wenatchee.
"They really had us pegged in that first period. Winning two in a row against the same team is tough, so we will have to come back harder and stronger if we want to win again."
The Cents will hope to win again, and extend their current win streak to a season high 5 in a row.
Puck Drop 7pm. Pre-Game 6:45 on Q101.1FM or online at Q101.ca with Jared Thomas.