The Merritt Centennials (2-9) look for revenge inside the same week against the visiting Vernon Vipers (5-6) tonight.
Last weekend the Centennials began their games against the Vipers albeit later than usual due to bus trouble leaving Merritt. The game began at 8:20, and the teams to their credit came out flying. The Vipers scored two quick goals to break their 3 game shutout skid that they came into the game with, and the Centennials were able to answer in the latter half of the period with goals from Captain Rylan Van Unen and Thomas Manty. However, in the second the Vipers pulled away with some timely scoring and ended up taking the game by a score of 5-2. The Centennials followed that up with a tight 4-3 defeat at the hands of the Nanaimo Clippers, and despite a goal from Payton Matsui and two goals from Josh Kagan, again it was the 2nd period and special teams that were the difference. The Cents went 0/7 with the extra man while the Clippers converted on 2/4. A late push with the net empty didn't yield any results for the Cents and they look to end a now 4 game losing streak tonight.
The Vipers saw a return to form after facing the Centennials. Coming into the game shutout in the 3 games previous they were able to tally 5 goals against the Cents and then carry the momentum over into the following night against a talented Chilliwack Chiefs club. They scored 4 more goals while they held the Chiefs offense to just a goal. Newcomer Reilly Herbst in net has provided them with a solid 1-2 punch as he picked up his first 2 wins of the year last weekend.
The two teams are now tied in terms of producing offense with 23 goals for each, however, the Vipers have been better at keeping the puck out of their net as the Cents have allowed 21 more goals over the same amount of games.
The Centennials saw some chemistry begin to build on their top line with Payton Matsui, Thomas Manty, and Josh Kagan factoring in on all 3 goals on Saturday night against the Clippers. As a result Kagan now leads the team in points with 11 while Daniel Tkac and Payton Matsui are tied with 7 points apiece.
The Vipers continue to be led by their Captain Connor Marritt in terms of offense with 7 points. Matt Kowalski has 6 points, and linemate Connor Sleeth has 5.
The special teams battle sees the Vipers as the league's Jeckyl and Hyde team, while the Cents are looking to bump a lengthy slump on the powerplay.
Powerplay: Penalty Kill:
Cents - 7.8% (16th) Cents - 72.7% (16th)
Vipers - 6.1% (17th) Vipers - 92.5% (1st)
In net, the Cents are looking for someone to seize the number one role. Ryan Winter is 1-6 with a .900 SV% and a 4.03 GAA. Tanner Marshall is 1-3 with a .858 SV% and a 4.59 GAA.
The Vipers got a pair of quality starts from their new goalie Reilly Herbst over the weekend. He is now 2-0 with a .968 SV% and a 0.60 GAA. Max Palaga has been the Vipers go-to guy over the start of the year and is 3-6 with an .899 SV%, a 2.77 GAA, and 1 shutout.
Assistant Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter says the team needs to start showing some urgency on the ice.
"Points at the beginning of the year matter as much as they do in February. We need to start showing some urgency and start picking up some wins."
The Cents will look to bring that urgency tonight against the Vernon Vipers.
Puck Drop 7pm from the NVMA. Pre-Game 6:45 on Q101 and Hockey TV with Jared Thomas and Michael Reeve.