The Merritt Centennials (1-5) look for revenge against the Wenatchee Wild (5-1-0-1) tonight.
It was just last Saturday that these teams last met in Wenatchee, and each club has had a chance to play a game in between. The Cents faced the Mainland Division leading Coquitlam Express on Wednesday night and weren't able to best the best on the coast. For the first time this season the Cents had a lead after twenty minutes of play. The Express opened the scoring after some end to end action, but leading scorer Daniel Tkac was able to find a loose puck in front of the net and quickly snipe it top corner to tie the game at 1's. Matt Osadick then got his first goal of the year on a goaltender gaffe after the Coquitlam centre won the faceoff and it slipped past their goaltender. In the second period, the lead quickly evaporated after the Cents got into penalty killing trouble. The Express scored 3 unanswered in the second to make it a 4-2 game heading into the third. The third period saw the Express get another goal, before Payton Matsui was able to answer the bell for the Centennials, but the Express quickly responded to make it a 6-3 final. Tanner Marshall got his first start of the season, and despite allowing 6 goals he made some quality desperation saves that held the Cents in the game.
The Wild are coming off action last night against the Chilliwack Chiefs which saw them fall for the first time in regulation 6-2. Brian Adams and Dallas Farell scored in the losing effort, but the Chiefs were perfect on the powerplay that went 3/3 on the night. Daniel Chenard picked recorded his first loss of the season against his former club.
The season series sits at 0-2 on the side of the Centennials against the Wild so far. They fell 3-1 in the season opener against the Wild, and then had a rough ride in their first road game of the year in Wenatchee. Last Saturday the Wild took it to the Centennials over 60 minutes of play and were relentless on the forecheck. As a result, the Cents couldn't muster much offense and it was Daniel Tkac who carried the mail scoring on a centering feed from Brett Rolson, and a penalty shot. Unfortunately, the Cents would only get within 1 before Wenatchee regained control and got a late empty netter to make it 5-1.
The Cents have added some offense this week by bringing aboard Josh Kagan from the Cowichan Valley Capitals who becomes the teams leading scorer with 4 goals and 3 assists. Daniel Tkac shares the lead with 7 points as well, with Brett Rolson providing 4 points.
The Wild are led by Nick Cafarelli with 9 points, Captain Brian Adams has 6, and several others have 4 points in a score by committee club.
The special teams battle sees the Cents special teams starting to cool off. Their powerplay has been shut down for the last two games straight, and their penalty kill is the worst in the league.
Powerplay: Penalty Kill:
Cents - 14.8% (11th) Cents - 70.6% (17th)
Wild - 12.8% (14th) Wild - 81.5% (10th)
In net the Cents got a good performance from Tanner Marshall despite the score. He's 0-1 with a .846 SV% and a 6.00 GAA. Ryan Winter is 1-4 with a .905 SV% and a 4.08 GAA.
The Wild suffered their first loss in regulation last night, but both goalies have topped the Cents. Daniel Chenard is 4-1 with a .915 SV% and a 2.47 GAA. Noah Altman is 1-0 with a .905 SV% and a 2.01 GAA.
Assistant Coach Derek Sweet Coulter says the Cents have to be better at putting the puck in a good spot to win the battles.
"We play our best when we chip and chase, and put ourselves in a position to win battles. We need to make sure we are winning them tonight."
The Cents will look to win the war tonight against the Wenatchee Wild.
Puck Drop 7pm. Pre-Game 6:45 with Jared Thomas and Michael Reeve on Q101 and HockeyTV.