Merritt Centennials
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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.

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After opening the scoring, the Cents couldn't keep the Silverbacks at bay, and eventually gave way in a 6-2 final. 

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. Ryan Winter had to stand on his head in the first and throughout the game as shots after 1 were 22-8 Salmon Arm. 


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. Shots after 2 were 42-14 'Backs. 

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 6-2. Final shots were 53-29 Salmon Arm. 

 

After the game, Assistant Coach Zach Wright said 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 renew the rivalry tomorrow night at the NVMA with puck drop slated for 7pm. 

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The Merritt Centennials (10-34-1-3) face off against a familiar foe in the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (24-20-3-1) tonight.

The Centennials are coming off a game where they showed they have the determination to climb back in games, but may have wished they didn't put their opponent up by 3 in the first period. Chilliwack was able to seize the a 3-0 lead after the first period on Wednesday night, but to the Cents credit they battled back in the second with goals from Evan Benwell, a shorthanded breakaway from Wyatt Marlow, and a snipe from Thomas Manty. In the third period, the Chiefs were able to grab the lead back to make it 4-3. Josh Van Unen had a penalty shot try that he was unsuccessful on, but on the following faceoff he was able to tee up Brophy Dunne for his first goal in the BCHL to tie the game. Late in the frame the zebras were out in force giving the Chiefs a two man advantage and they were able to pull ahead 5-4. The Cents didn't fade into the night, they kept pushing for the late equalizer with Hunor Torzsok ripping a shot off the bar before the Chiefs collected the puck and threw it all the way down the ice into the open net to seal the Cents fate 6-4. The Cents have shown they have the desperation to pick up points, they just need to have it from the starting buzzer.

The Salmon Arm Silverbacks are coming in off the heels of a much needed win against the Surrey Eagles 3-2. Unruh, Noah Wakeford, and Wolford all tallied for Salmon Arm as they got two goals on the powerplay, but before that win the Silverbacks had dropped 4 games in a row albeit two of them in OT. January hasn't been kind to the 'Backs as they've gone 3-5-2, although from a Centennials perspective they can't be looking down on any team and need to be prepared for another battle between these division rivals. The Silverbacks and Centennials always seem to get the best out of each other and tonight should be no different.

The Cents will be looking for the kind of scoring they had on Wednesday, with some likely and unlikely sources contributing. Christian Buono has snuck back into the team lead with 32 points, Payton Matsui has 31, and Daniel Tkac has 25.

The Silverbacks are led by their Captain and leading scorer amongst defensemen in the BCHL Akito Hirose with 47 points. Noah Wakeford has 46 points and shifty forward Daniel Rybarik has 40 points.

The special teams battle sees the Cents looking to capitalize with the extra man once more after being shutout against Chilliwack.

Powerplay:                           Penalty Kill:

Cents - 11% (17th)          Cents - 72.8% (17th)

'Backs - 18.6% (9th)       Cents - 78.4% (12th)

The battle in the blue paint sees Ryan Winter continuing his search for win number 4 on the season. He is 3-16-1 with an .895 SV%, a 4.23 GAA, and 1 shutout. 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 2-2-1 with a .906 SV% and a 2.98 GAA.

Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter says that if the Cents give the same effort they had in the final 40 minutes on Wednesday they won't be denied.

"We saw this team push, and push hard to get back in the game, and when things didn't go right they worked hard to get the game back on track and didn't quit. If they continue to work like that they'll get the results they want."

The Cents are hoping they won't be denied a win tonight.

Puck drop 7pm. Pregame 6:45 on Q101 and HockeyTV with Jared Thomas.

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The Merritt Centennials battled back and took the Chilliwack Chiefs down to the wire, but a late 5-on-3 goal and an empty netter helped the Chiefs outlast the Cents 6-4.

It was all Chiefs in the first period as they dictated play early on. Ethan Bowen scored just 40 seconds in to give Chilliwack the early lead. They added to it on their first powerplay with Rylan Van Unen in the box to make it 2-0. Hudson Thornton made it 3 goals in the first 7 minutes and the Cents had dug themselves in a hole. Ryan Winter battled through 18 shots in the first period, while the Cents fired just 6 on net themselves.

The Cents needed a gargantuan effort to get back in the game, and that’s what they got from their group. They weren’t able to come through until the 10:35 mark when Evan Benwell was able to sneak the puck across the line on a goal mouth scramble. Then on the penalty kill, the Cents got a chance late and Wyatt Marlow was sent in all alone. He screamed in at full steam and then put on the brakes at the hash marks and threw the puck up high to make it 3-2. At the 17:30 mark, Thomas Manty ripped a wrist shot top corner bottle poppin to tie the game at 3. What seemed improbable heading in was made reality from hard work and determination. Shots after 2 were 28-19 Chiefs.

The teams set the stage for a big third period and the action didn’t disappoint. After some back and forth play, Nikita Nesterenko broke the deadlock after a broken play back door to regain the Chiefs lead at the 8:50 mark of the third. Josh Van Unen was hauled down on a breakaway and was awarded the rare penalty shot, despite making dangles in tight he wasn’t able to beat Thornton. Fortunately, off the ensuing faceoff he was able to win the puck back to Brophy Dunne who threw the puck and it found a way to tally his first BCHL goal. Then with the game getting to crunch time, the refs reared their heads calling a tripping call with 5 minutes left, then a high stick to put the top powerplay in the BCHL up 2 men late. The Chiefs converted with a back door feed to go up 5-4. Pushing for the equalizer with the net empty, Rylan Van Unen found Hunor Torzsok in the slot and his wrister rang off the post, only to fall on a Chiefs stick and be cleared down the ice and into the empty cage to ice the game 6-4. Final shots were 44-25.

After the game, Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter said the team deserved better, but they can’t complain after giving up too much early.

“I feel for the guys in the room because they played their butts off tonight, but you can’t give a team like Chilliwack that big of a lead and expect to win. Full marks on the comeback effort, but we need to be a better to get the result.”

The Cents will look to be a better on Friday night when they travel to Salmon Arm to take on the Silverbacks.

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The Merritt Centennials (10-33-1-3) head down to the Fraser Valley to take on the Chilliwack Chiefs (23-14-5-4) tonight.

The Merritt Centennials are still looking to right the ship in January before it's gone and they look to do it against another tough test in the Chilliwack Chiefs. The Cents are coming off a weekend where they weren't able to put a full 60 minute effort together. On Friday against the Vees, they took the first period off and found themselves down 4-0 after 20 minutes. Despite skating with the Vees the rest of the way, they suffered a 6-2 defeat with Payton Matsui providing the special teams punch with a goal on the powerplay and shorthanded. The following night at home against the Eagles, the Cents were in it again for 40, trailing only 1-0 after 1 and 4-2 with momentum on their side after 2, they couldn't find a goal in the third period to give them the momentum needed for the comeback and the Eagles picked up a few goals on the powerplay to ensure victory going 4/7 and winning 7-2. The Cents will need to be disciplined tonight as they go up against the league's best powerplay.

Chilliwack is trending in the right direction in January as they are 6-2, and 4-1 in their last 5. They survived a barn burner against the Prince George Spruce Kings last time out. The Chiefs started the game trailing 2-0, but were able to score 4 unanswered goals to get back on track. PG would answer in the 2nd, but the Chiefs would add two more before they hung on for the win 6-5. Their latest set back came against the Coquitlam Express 4-3, but before that rallied 3 in a row against Langley 3-2, Coquitlam 4-3, and the Express once more 6-1. The Chiefs seem to be able to adapt their game to their opponent, and can score in bunches.

Payton Matsui has slowly climbed his way to the Centennials scoring lead with 31 points, moving him into a tie with Christian Buono. Daniel Tkac has 25 points while Thomas Manty leads rookies with 23 on the team.

The Chiefs have one top 20 scorer on their roster with Minnesota Wild draft pick Nikita Nesterenko at 44 points, Peter Reynolds has 37, and Brett Willits has chipped in 31.

The special teams battle sees the Cents going up the league's best powerplay.

Powerplay:                           Penalty Kill:

Cents - 11.2% (17th)      Cents - 73% (17th)

Chiefs - 28.1% (1st)        Chiefs - 81.3% (9th)

The battle in the blue paint sees both Cents starters suffering during this losing drought. Ryan Winter is 3-15-1 with a .895 SV%, a 4.19 GAA and 1 shutout. Tanner Marshall is 6-17 with an .880 SV% and a 4.91 GAA.

The Chiefs lean on Mathieu Caron to be the guy. He's 16-8-5 with a .910 SV%, a 2.64 GAA, and 2 shutouts. Kolby Thornton is 7-5 with a .895 SV% and a 3.01 GAA.

Cents Assistant Coach Zach Wright says the team needs to pick it up for that final playoff spot.

"We know we aren't out of it yet, but we know we need to start picking up wins. We need to go out, put everything together and get one."

The Cents will look to pick up their first win of 2020.

Puck drop 7pm. Pre-game 6:45 on Q101 and HockeyTV with Jared Thomas.

 

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