A camp that began just two weeks ago with 80-plus players has slowly been whittled away to around 25, with final cuts expected this weekend.
For Cents fans the trajectory of this year’s edition of the team must be promising. While they did begin 0-3, fans in attendance got to see glimpses of what a Barry Wolff team can and will be.
Finally, on Friday night in the exhibition finale, Coach Wolff iced what many expect to be a very close facsimile to his opening day roster, and the squad responded with their best effort so far.
There was a one-word game plan on the whiteboard in the coach’s office pregame, ‘WIN’, and that’s exactly what Merritt did, defeating the defending BCHL Champions 4-3 in the skills competition.
Preseason hockey is undoubtedly about evaluating talent but seeing your team experience different situations is a bonus that doesn’t always become a reality. For Merritt, the players experienced almost everything possible in their final tune-up.
The Cents experienced playing with the lead, coming from behind, giving up a late go-ahead goal and scoring the late equalizer all within 60 minutes of hockey, plus 3-on-3 OT and a shootout.
For Coach Wolff seeing how your team reacts to different scenarios can be invaluable come the regular season.
The Cents' powerplay continued to shine versus the Spruce Kings. After going 3 for 4 in Prince George earlier in the week, Merritt would replicate the results at the NVMA with another three powerplay goals.
Special teams as a whole continued to perform well, with the penalty kill only allowing two goals in six PG attempts.
Ryan Winter got to play the entire 65 minutes for the Cents in the blue paint and after fighting off some early Prince George chances the netminder truly settled in and kept his team in the contest. Winter also proved his prowess in the skills competition guiding Merritt to the win.
Whilst the powerplay unit looked extremely dangerous and scored a trio of goals, the Cents were held off the scoresheet at 5-on-5 for the second straight game.
The next chance to see the Cents is Friday, September 6, at the NVMA versus Wenatchee for the home opener.
The game will be broadcast on Q101 with Jared Thomas and Michael Reeve beginning at 6:45 with the pregame show.
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt