The Merritt Centennials hope a return home will mean a return to the win column against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
The Cents are coming off a hard fought 3-2 loss against the Vernon Vipers. A game in which they were the ones who pushed the pace, but fell victim to the counterattack. That was the case in the first goal of the game when Connor Marritt was sprung for a breakaway at the end of a Cents powerplay and beat starter Austin Roden blocker-side. The teams traded powerplay goals in the second period with Christian Sabin scoring on a deflection in front, something the Centennials should try to do more often with the extra man. In the third, the Cents had numerous opportunities to beat Aiden Porter including a 40 second 5-on-3 advantage, but they couldn't quite get the equalizer trailing 2-1. Alex Swetlikoff would spread the margin to 3-1 when he broke in with speed, and outworked a Centennials d-man for a shot low that baffled Roden to make it 3-1. The Cents responded quickly when Brady Ziemer scored his second of the season simply by throwing it on net from the half-wall. The Cents will hope to learn some lessons from the styles of goals they scored last night, and take it into their home match up with the Silverbacks.
The Silverbacks should come in angry after getting thumped by the now 2nd place in the Interior Division Wenatchee Wild. They lost the game 8-3 and never got a sniff of control throughout. The 'Backs got goals from Unruh, Krahn, and Hirose in the loss.
The season series will conclude tonight, and the Centennials will look to finish with a dominating 5-1 record with a win. They only dropped the season opener at the Shaw Centre and have since come back with 4 straight wins against Salmon Arm. However, the last 2 games have been very tightly contested - a 3-2 win in Salmon Arm, and a 4-3 overtime win last weekend at the NVMA. The Cents scored three goals in the first period from Payton Matsui (2), and Brad Cocca shorthanded before the Silverbacks worked their way back in the game and tied it with 5 minutes remaining in the third. Jackson Munro delivered the Cents to victory in OT with a shot top corner glove side on Ethan Langenegger.
The Cents are going through a bit of a rough patch offensively as their top guns haven't gotten on the scoreboard at the same pace fans have been accustomed to. Brad Cocca is now 5th in the league with 41 points, Nick Granowicz is 7th with 38, and Mathieu Gosselin is 16th with 34 points.
The Silverbacks are led by Matthew Verboon with 26 points, Trevor Adams with 21, and Noah Wakeford with 20 points.
The special teams battle sees the Silverbacks with the edge. The Cents scored once on seven opportunities last night with the extra man.
Powerplay: Penalty Kill:
Backs - 18.3% (12th) Backs - 81.3% (8th)
Cents - 16.6% (14th) Cents - 76.5% )14th)
In net both Cents goalies are coming off a loss and will look to return to the win column tonight. Vincent Duplessis is 6-4-2 with a .904 SV% and a 3.30 GAA. Austin Roden is now 12-6 with a .901 SV%, a 3.30 GAA, and 1 shutout. Matthew Armitage is 3-3 since joining the Silverbacks from the Red Deer Rebels and has a .924 SV%, a 2.71 GAA, and 1 shutout. Ehtan Langenegger is 9-10 with a .902 SV% and a 3.37 GAA.
Head Coach Joe Martin knows that the Silverbacks always present a challenge.
"Games with this team are always physical, always tight checking, and usually pretty close, so we will need to really focus on ourselves tomorrow night if we want to come away with the win."
Fans in attendance tonight are encouraged to bring a donation to the food bank, and be warned that Centennials and volunteers will be collecting donations throughout Merritt from 10-4 tommorrow for the Hockey with Heart Food Drive. Tonight there's also a chance to win a $100 gift card, so be in attendance and talk to Deb at the Chuck-a-Puck table to win.
Puck Drop 7pm. Pre-Game Show on Q101.1FM and Q101.ca with Jared Thomas.