(Photo - Garrett James)
The Merritt Centennials are gearing up for a mid-week showdown tonight in Coquitlam against the Express.
Before the bus left to head over the Coquihalla, Payton Matsui stopped by Q101 for five good minutes to discuss the team's first win, taking a leadership role with the club, and an old nickname of teammate Spencer Schneider from their days playing minor hockey in Minnesota together.
After splitting a pair of weekend contests Payton discussed some positives.
“I think it’s knowing that we can play, getting that first win was huge. Playing the way we should be playing and knowing that we can score even strength. Taking it to a team and dominating,” said Payton.
This week at practice Barry Wolff has had the boys working hard in battle drills, an area Payton agrees the team could improve.
“Work ethic, in the corners battling, first to the puck, 50-50 battles. Getting a better sense of where you want to be in the mix,” added Payton.
The turning point of their win on Friday night was a massive penalty kill in the second period, which seemed to swing momentum in the Cents favour.
“First off we need to stop taking penalties, that’s a big thing. I think when you’re confident on the kill, that confidence carries over to 5-on-5 and makes it easier to play,” said Payton.
The team has yet to name an official leadership group, but that hasn’t stopped Payton from stepping up to fill that role.
“I’ve talked with Barry and him and Derek agreed I should be a leader vocally and, on the ice,” began Payton. “I think it’s the way I carry myself, always being there for the team. Just working hard, being a leader.”
The forward lines have been in the blender a little bit to open the season with Coach Wolff looking for a spark, for Payton he’s found some early chemistry with a couple of wingers.
“I think I have a lot of chemistry with Spencer Schneider because for one he’s my roommate, but I’ve known him since I was 11. So, I know how he plays, he knows how I play,” said Payton. “Also, Matt Osadick, when we play together it’s just speed on speed, and then we build off of each other.”
Spencer and Payton played minor hockey together back in Minnesota.
“When we were younger his nickname was actually Herb after Herb Brooks. We called him that because during AAA hockey he did the Herb Brooks speech one time and our coach started calling him Herb and it stuck,” said Payton.
Catch Payton and Herb on Q101 tonight at 7 PM as they face the Express in Coquitlam.
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt