Merritt Centennials
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For the first time this season, the Merritt Centennials have strung two wins together as they along with Ryan Winter shutout the Langley Rivermen 4-0 on Friday night. 

After an on-ice ceremony for the parents and billets ahead of the game, the Cents came out of the gate with a bang. Matt Osadick came flying down the right wing side, and as he gained the offensive blue line, he fired a shot on net that rung off the iron, but right onto the stick of the Cents leading scorer Josh Kagan - who potted it into the empty cage to make it 1-0. Kagan's 9th goal of the season stood up as the only goal in the first period, as the Centennials were heavily out shot. After 1 Ryan Winter stopped all 17 shots he faced, while Kristian Lyon stopped 4/5. 

In the middle frame, the game started to get out of hand with late hits being delivered by the Rivermen. Langley tried to bully the Centennials with their physical play, but the Cents stood up for themselves and didn't relent on their pursuit for offense. Despite taking their lumps, including Josh Kagan getting bowled over in a mismatch against Brandon Scoville, the Cents were able to add a goal towards the end of the frame. Chase Nameth scored his first of the season, and as a Centennial with a shot the found the top corner behind Lyon. Shots after 2 were 36-20 in favour of the Rivermen. 

The third period saw both teams clean up their act on the penalty front, and the Cents defended their lead expertly. They were able to spend the majority of time in the Rivermen zone and were also able to add some offense when the chips were down. After a late penalty kill, Payton Matsui found Rylan Van Unen behind the D, and from the blue line Van Unen danced in the a tight backhand, forehand move in front, capped off with a top corner shot to give the Cents the 3-0 lead. Matt Osadick and Thomas Manty teamed up for the empty netter to add the icing in a 4-0 game. Ryan Winter made 4 or 5 game stopping saves throughout the night, as final shots were 48-35 Rivermen. 

After the game, Head Coach Derek Sweet Coulter said he was proud of the guys for rising above the bully tactics. 

"I thought the team played with a level head, and didn't get sucked into the extra curricular stuff with Langley and that was key for us throughout the game." 

The Cents will put their pair of wins on the line against the Penticton Vees on Sunday afternoon. 

ENERGY PLAYER OF THE GAME: Talon Zakall 

3rd Star: Kristian Lyon 

2nd Star: Rylan Van Unen 1G 0A

1st Star: Ryan Winter 48/48 SVS

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Tanner Marshall glove save

(Photo credit – Garrett James)

If you ask Tanner Marshall, he’ll say the Merritt Centennials are 1-1. Some may even be inclined to say 1-0, but whichever way you look at it one thing is clear, Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter has quickly changed the culture and the attitude around the hockey club.

This week Tanner stopped by Q101 for five good minutes to chat about playing in front of his family, recent team building and more.

Tanner is a Kelowna kid and was given the chance to start in front of his family last weekend versus West Kelowna.

“It was cool, it was fun. That was my first time playing in West Kelowna in front of my family,” said Tanner.

With family weekend on tap at the NVMA, Tanner will be getting another shot to play in front of his family this weekend when they make the trip over the connector.

Tanner and Ryan Winter have been battling for the starting job in the crease all season, a battle Tanner believes makes them both better.

“It’s a really good relationship. We’re both battling to be the number one guy and that’s a healthy competition. Wherever you play you have the battle between the two goalies and that only makes everyone better,” said Tanner.

“Derek said he’s going to let it play out, and you want to play the guy that’s hot and stopping the puck. At the end of the day whoever is stopping the puck is going to play,” added Tanner.

As for what element of his game his been working on, Tanner said tracking.

“The biggest thing in today’s game is tracking. I’m not going to be a 6’5 goalie, so I have to beat plays on my feet and try to be fast. Work on really tracking the puck and battling in the scrambles. Playing simple and doing every I can to give the guys a chance to win,” said Tanner.

Over the past week and change, the idea of team building has been front and centre from Coach Derek. The squad has gone bowling, played softball at Central Park, helped teach kids to skate, and put words like ‘Courage’ up around their dressing room.

“We’ve been through a roller coaster,” began Tanner. “So, the team bonding, the baseball on Wednesday, getting the guys together and taking the mind off hockey. Getting us together and getting us to step back, it’s not always about hockey. When we can relax and have fun with everybody off the ice, that’s when you really start learning how to win games,” said Tanner.

The Cents have a pair of weekend contests on the schedule for parents’ weekend. Tonight at 7 pm versus the Langley Rivermen. Then on Sunday at 2 pm versus the Penticton Vees.

Catch all the action this weekend on Q101 with Jared Thomas and Michael Reeve.

 

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On Twitter: @Q101Merritt

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The Merritt Centennials (3-10) look to string a pair of wins together for the first time this season when they host the Langley Rivermen (8-9) tonight.

The Centennials are coming off a 2 game split last week after some changes were made to the coaching staff and hockey operations. Despite the emotional drain, the team was able to rally for two of their best performances of the year. Last Wednesday against the Vipers the game looked destined for overtime before a dagger in the final minute stole the game for the Vipers. Rylan Van Unen and Josh Kagan tallied in the narrow 3-2 loss. The Cents followed that up with their best performance of the season on Saturday against the West Kelowna Warriors where they didn't suffer for offense and two seeing-eye shots were the only ones to beat Tanner Marshall in a 5-2 victory. The Cents got offense from 5 different scorers as Payton Matsui, Brett Roloson, R. Van Unen, Thomas Manty, and Spencer Schneider all chipped in with goals. With a full week of practice under new Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter the Cents are poised to push for more wins this weekend.

The Langley Rivermen come into the contest on the heels of a loss on Wednesday to the Coquitlam Express 4-1, but before that put up a couple of wins last weekend 2-0 over Coquitlam and 5-3 over the Surrey Eagles. After a rocky start to the season, the Rivermen started to find their form at the BCHL Showcase and after being 4 games below .500 battled back to level footing and are now sitting just a game below. A team that the Centennials can look to as a model for battling back in a season. The Rivermen a team that certainly doesn't suffer for offense with two of the top scorers in the league, including the 2nd highest scoring defender in the BCHL, Jake Livingstone. They've put 55 goals up over the year, and have a differential of only -2 so they've been a relatively steady team that's in most of their games.

The Centennials are hoping that the offensive outburst against the Warriors becomes a trend and not just a blip on the radar. Josh Kagan still leads the Cents up front with 13 points, Brett Roloson and Daniel Tkac are tied with 9 points, and Payton Matsui has put up 8.

The Rivermen boast a couple stop scorers in the BCHL. Brendan Budy has 23 points on the year, ranked 4th in the BCHL, and Jake Livingstone has 18 points, 2nd most amongst defensemen. Joseph Musa and Kalen Szeto each have 12 points.

Special teams remain a spot the Cents are circling in practice to improve, as the Rivermen hold the edge in both categories.

Powerplay:                                        Penalty Kill:

Cents - 7.1% (17th)                      Cents - 71.2% (16th)

Rivermen - 20% (7th)                Rivermen - 75.7% (14th)

The goaltending battle sees the both Cents netminders coming off stellar performances. Ryan Winter is still searching for his 2nd win of the year though not for lack of effort. He sits at 1-7 with a .904 SV% and a 3.91 GAA. Tanner Marshall is coming off another solid performance and is 2-3 with an .878 SV% and a 4.01 GAA.

The Rivermen have leaned on Braeden Fleming for most of the season. He's 8-7 with an .895 SV%, 2.93 GAA, and 2 shutouts. Kristian Lyon is the bonafied back up and is 0-2 with an .819 SV% and a 5.40 GAA.

Head Coach Derek Sweet Coulter says the Cents need to start stringing together some positive starts and positive results.

"We need to hang onto the feeling from last weekend, and carry that into the week of practice so we are prepared for some key games coming up."

The Cents will look for another positive result tonight against the Rivermen.

Puck drop 7pm from the NVMA. Pre-Game 6:45 on Q101 and HockeyTV with Jared Thomas and Michael Reeve.

A reminder to sign up for our Planet Fitness Weekly Online 50/50 where you can turn a toonie into over $200 at https://centsweekly5050.thelottofactory.com/

 

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Pictured: Top Left - Paul Barnes, Bottom Left - Zach Wright, Right - John Stuart (courtesy Merritt Pro Photo)

The Merritt Centennials announced some new additions to their hockey operations staff today.

Taking over from the now retired Brian Barrett in the position of Director of Hockey Operations will be John Stuart. Stuart has over 20 years of hockey experience in managing, scouting, and recruiting from the grass roots level to the CSSHL, BCHL, and WHL.

Stuart says he's excited to carry on the legacy of Brian Barrett and will continue to do whatever he can to help the club.

"For the past decades, Brian has been instrumental to this club. I just want to carry on and keep this team on a positive note, and keep them moving in a positive direction. Anything I can do to help the team, I'm willing to do."

Assuming the roles of Assistant Coaches will be Paul Barnes and Zach Wright. Barnes will be charged with overseeing the forwards, while Wright will be in charge of defense. Both coaches are long time Merrittonians.

Barnes worked his way through the minor hockey ranks to make the hometown Centennials in 1987, and played parts of 5 seasons with Merritt registering 174 points in 205 games. He joins the Centennials with over 20 years of coaching experience.

Wright played Junior B in the KIJHL, and has been a part of the Merritt Midget coaching staff for 6 seasons - the last 3 as head coach. He also served as a special assistant last season, when Head Coach Joe Martin was away with Team Canada West.

Stuart says both will make excellent additions to the coaching staff under Derek Sweet-Coulter.

"Both of them have very calming influences, both of them have strong ties to Merritt. I like what they both bring to the table. Paul is an offensive guy and can help on the forward side of the puck, and Zach is a defensive guy that can help run the defenders. I think the fit with Derek is going to be perfect."

In addition, the team has also added a new Goaltending Coach in Mike Loewen, and a Video Analyst in Levi Stuart.

The Cents look to continue where they left off last weekend with a win heading into this weekends action against the Langley Rivermen and the Penticton Vees.

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The Merritt Centennials bumped the slump and picked up their first road win of the year against the West Kelowna Warriors by a score of 5-2.

It was a perfect road period in the first that saw the Cents jump out to the lead. Payton Matsui got the party going 5 minutes into the frame when Josh Kagan found him streaking to the net for a tap in to make it 1-0.  Trevor Adams tied the game with a seeing eye shot 3 minutes later to make it 1-1, but that didn't slow the Cents offense down. Daniel Tkac and Brett Roloson connected on a near carbon copy of the first goal and Roloson ripped it top corner glove side to make it 2-1. Then it was Roloson's turn to set up Captain Rylan Van Unen a minute later with another similar play to make it 3-1. Shots after 1 were 12-11 in favor of the Cents. .

In the outset of the 2nd it was Tanner Marshall who stood tall for the Centennials making big save after big save while the boys found their feet. He held the Warriors off the score sheet, until Thomas Manty was able to find twine behind Baier after a forced turnover at the line by Josh Van Unen to make it 4-1. The shots after 24-23 in favour of the Cents.

The final frame saw the Cents do well not to play on their heels and keep pushing for more offense. Unfortunately, Matsui would take a penalty and the Warriors would capitalize with Nick Ardanaz sneaking one past the toe of Marshall from the blueline. The Cents would find the insurance marker when a backhand floater from Manty would be poked across the line by Spencer Schneider to make it 5-2. Marshall and the Cents would hang on for the victory. Final shots were 39-34 in favor of Merritt.

After the game, Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter said the Cents played with fight and compete and it led the way.

"I was really impressed by the way the team competed early on. With all that they've been through this week, it was good to get a win."

The Cents will take the winning feeling into next week against the Langley Rivermen and Penticton Vees.

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