The Merritt Centennials (10-35-1-3) complete a weekend home and home series against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (25-20-3-1) tonight.
The Cents and ‘Backs renewed acquaintances for the first time since early November last night with Salmon Arm skating away to a 6-2 victory. The game started well for Merritt who got an early shorthanded marker from Payton Matsui to take lead less than two minutes in. Salmon Arm would level the contest just after the midway point of the first frame with a goal from William Poirier and after one it was tied 1-1.
The second period would start off with a bang for the ‘Backs, with Drew Bennett tipping home an Akito Hirose shot just 15 seconds in. The assist for Captain Hirose was his 100th career BCHL helper. Matsui would even the scoring less than 90 seconds later with his second of the night. But from there Salmon Arm took control, scoring three unanswered, two on the power play, to take a 5-2 lead into the final stanza.
The final period was relatively uneventful. The Cents would squander a pair of power play opportunities, and the Silverbacks looked keen to bleed out the clock for victory. The ‘Backs would add a late marker from Logan Shaw to ice the game.
Ryan Winter was exceptional in the blue paint for the Cents, making 47 saves in the losing effort.
The season series now sits at 2-1 in favour of the Silverbacks. Game one was a 4-3 OT win for Salmon Arm at home. The following night at the NVMA the Cents edged the ‘Backs 6-5.
Thanks to a pair of goals last night Payton Matsui now leads the team with 33 points. Followed by Christian Buono with 32, and Daniel Tkac has 25. Matsui has 4 goals in just three games versus Salmon Arm this season.
The Silverbacks are led by their Captain and leading scorer amongst defensemen in the BCHL Akito Hirose with 48 points. Noah Wakeford has 46 points and shifty forward Daniel Rybarik has 42 points.
The special team’s battle sees the Cents looking to make some adjustments after going 0-3 on the PP last night. The PK will also look for a boast after allowing two goals in five attempts.
Powerplay: Penalty Kill:
Cents – 10.9% (17th) Cents - 72.5% (17th)
'Backs - 19% (9th) ‘Backs - 78.7% (12th)
The battle in the blue paint sees Ryan Winter continuing his search for win number 4 on the season. He is 3-17-1 with an .895 SV%, a 4.23 GAA, and 1 shutout. Birthday Boy Tanner Marshall is 6-17 with an .880 SV% and a 4.91 GAA.
The Silverbacks have had the steady hand of Ethan Langenegger and a changing supporting cast. Langenegger is 19-14-1 with a .908 SV%, a 2.81 GAA and 2 shutouts. Grant Adams is the new backup and is 3-2-1 with a .906 SV% and a 2.98 GAA.
Assistant Coach Zach Wright believes the team is continuing to learn and build.
"We got some young guys out there and they’re playing big minutes. We’re learning and we’re building for the future.”
The Cents are hoping February will bring better luck after going pointless in January.
Puck drop 7pm. Pregame 6:45 on Q101 and HockeyTV with Jared Thomas and Michael Reeve.