The Merritt Centennials got a 40 save performance and plenty of offense to return to the win column on Wednesday night against the Express 5-0.
The powerplay has been a bit of a question mark all season long, but it had answers early in the goings of the first. Matt Kopperud clapped a one-timer from Nick Granowicz upstairs, bar down to make it 1-0. The offense took a while to arrive as shots after 1 were only 8-7 in favour of the Express. Kolby Matthews got the nod for the Express while Austin Roden got the start for the Cents.
In the second period, the Cents and Express traded chances but it took until the 12 minute mark for the offense to arrive. Austin Roden was the best penalty killer by a long shot, and it led to some good things at the other end of the ice. Brad Cocca and Jackson Munro combined for one of the nicest rushes of the season. Cocca gained the line on the right side, dropped for Munro, and then got open on the other side of the ice. Munro made a move, saucered a pass over, and Cocca made a move to the backhand past a sprawled out Matthews to make it 2-0. Shots after 2 were 20-19 Cents.
The Cents had a third opportunity on the PP when the third period began with just 30 seconds to work. Merritt hit pay dirt in the first 20 seconds after Brendan Schneider found a rebound and batted it home to make it 3-0. The Cents then weathered an Express storm and Austin Roden captained the ship killing off a couple penalties and a total of 6 on the night, once again it led to opportunities for offense. Mathieu Gosselin had a steal at the offensive blue line, and came in all alone, his initial shot was stopped by Matthews, but he collected the rebound and waited for reinforcements and found Cocca out front to make it 4-0. Nick Wicks got the final goal of the night, after Rylan Van Unen did the heavy lifting and found him in front to make it 5-0. From there the team switched gears to the defensive side to help reward Roden for his efforts. The Cents netminder turned aside 21 shots in the final frame, and 40 overall for the shutout.
After the game, Head Coach Joe Martin said that there was a lot to like.
"The powerplay was good, Roden was great, the offense was there. We took a few too many penalties, but there's always small things to look at after a game like this."
ENERGY PLAYER OF THE GAME: Joey Berkopec 0G 2A 2PIM
3RD STAR: Jackson Munro 0G 2A
2ND STAR: Brad Cocca 2G 1A
1ST STAR: Austin Roden 40/40