The Merritt Centennials conclude their exhibition schedule at home hosting the defending BCHL champion Spruce Kings tonight.
The Cents are coming off their best effort of the preseason, but it still wasn't enough to top Prince George in Prince George. For the third game in a row the Cents opened the scoring, with Troy Quinn threading a pass through the throng of bodies in the middle to Daniel Tkac behind the D to make it a 1-0 game. However, like in all three games so far, hanging on to the lead has been difficult as less than a minute later Chong Min Lee countered for the Spruce Kings. Aiden Hosein had a good showing between the pipes, and got plenty of help from his best friend the cross bar as it was hit at least 4 times during his time in net. The Spruce Kings then got the go ahead goal from former Cents affiliate Brett Pfoh in the 2nd period, Matsui would tie things up after another pass from Quinn sprung him down the left wing and his shot beat Jett Alexander upstairs. Unfortunately, Pfoh would find the back of the net again just 2 minutes later to restore the lead. PG then jumped out to a quick goal in the 3rd, just 11 seconds in to widen the margin to two. Troy Quinn would finish his night with a PP goal, a top corner snipe glove side from the left point after a good play by Joey Berkopec to keep the puck in at the point.
The Cents have faced some stiff competition throughout the exhibition season, and it doesn't get any easier tonight. However, they should have the closest rendition to the opening night roster on display and have gotten some time this week to start to gel as a team. What started as a main camp of 88 has slowly dwindled down to a size of well under 30.
One thing that has been strong for the Centennials so far is their special teams. They went 3/4 against the Spruce Kings on Tuesday, and have only allowed two goals while shorthanded through the preseason.
Merritt will have to exorcise the demons of 3-1 and 5-2 losses to the Penticton Vees and a 5-3 loss to Prince George. The Cents will face another stiff test, but one they'll have to conquer if they want to go into the regular season with a win in their pocket.
Puck drop 7pm. Pre-game 6:55 on hockeytv.com with Jared Thomas and Michael Reeve.
A reminder to sign up for the Centennials weekly 5050 draw here: https://centsweekly5050.thelottofactory.com/