The 2nd in the Interior Merritt Centennials (27-13-4-2) take on the 4th in the Mainland Langley Rivermen (24-21-1-0) this afternoon.
The Cents are coming off another trip to overtime, and another loss in overtime. After starting out 2019 with 3 straight overtime wins, the tide has turned against the Cents in extra time in the most recent string of games. In their last 4 trips to OT they've lost, including twice to the Chilliwack Chiefs despite never trailing in those games until the final buzzer. On Friday, the Chiefs and Cents started out slow with no scoring in the first period, but in the second Mathieu Gosselin broke the goose egg to make it 1-0. The third started off with a flurry with the Chiefs scoring just after the first minute, Rylan Van Unen restored the 2-1 lead on the very next shift, but the Chiefs tied the game up again all within the first 5 minutes. That would be the end of the scoring in regulation, and in OT the Chiefs would convert on a PP to make it a 3-2 final. A night after going 3/5 with the extra man, the Cents went 0/6 against the Chiefs.
The Langley Rivermen are coming into the game hot. They've won their last 6 games including a 6-2 win over the Wenatchee Wild in Wenatchee on Friday. However, not all of their wins have come in big offensive displays. They've won with defense as well with a pair of 2-1 victories in the mix during the win streak as well.
The Rivermen and Cents have met just once before this season at the BCHL Showcase, and the Rivermen were able to top the Cents 4-2. Braedon Flemming, the Rivermen goalie, was a big part of the victory as he stopped 28/30 shots and the Cents went 1/10 on the PP. The Rivermen also won two of the three meetings last season, however, Merritt did win the lone game at home 4-1.
The Cents now have 4 of their top guns in the top 20 of BCHL scoring. Cocca leads the way with 54 points (6th), Granowicz has 48 (15th), Wicks has 47 (17th), and Mathieu Gosselin has 46 (20th).
The Rivermen have scored 30 less goals than the Centennials, and don't have a scorer who's broken then 40 point plateau yet. Ethan Leyh leads the way with 38 points, Trevor Ayre has 34, and Josh Livingstone has 32 points.
The special teams battle sees the Cents run into another of the leagues top penalty kills.
Powerplay: Penalty Kill:
Langley - 19.9% (8th) Langley - 84.7% (2nd)
Cents - 18.3% (16th) Cents - 75.7% (15th)
The goaltending duel could see Vincent Duplessis get another chance between the pipes with Austin Roden coming off a loss. Duplessis is 8-5-3 with a .904 SV% and a 3.34 GAA. Roden is 19-7-2 with a .902 SV%, a 3.16 GAA, and 1 shutout. Braedon Flemming has anchored the Rivermen this year. He's 17-16 with a .906 SV%, a 2.78 GAA, and 3 shutouts. Shayne Battler is 7-3 with a .913 SV%, a 2.28 GAA, and 1 shutout.
Head Coach Joe Martin says the Rivermen are a different team than the Cents have faced in the new year.
"Lately we've played a lot of teams that have the same makeup as the Cents - fast, smaller, skilled. The Rivermen are bigger team, that plays heavy, but still has some higher end skill in the lineup."
The Cents will hope for a different result against the Rivermen this afternoon.
Puck Drop 2pm. Pre-Game 1:45 on Q101.1FM and Q101.ca with Jared Thomas.