The Merritt Centennials (15-8-0-1) look to finish a perfect home stand when they welcome the Wenatchee Wild (12-9-2-0) to the NVMA tonight.
The Centennials are coming off another strong weekend that saw them take both games, and now three in a row. The Cents vanquished the Vipers on Friday night by a score of 4-3, and followed it up with an offensive battering of the West Kelowna Warriors 8-3. The powerplay played a big part over the weekend going a combined 7/12 or 58%! Mathieu Gosselin chipped in for 5 assists, Matt Kopperud showed off his skilled hands with 2 goals and a helper, and Nick Granowicz earned himself a BCHL Player of the Week honorable mention for his 3 goal and assist effort over the weekend. The honorable mention marks a hat trick from Granowicz in that regard, and he also had both game-winning goals on the weekend to give him the team lead with 5. Offense abounded during the weekend with contributions coming from up and down the lineup. Newly acquired forward Payton Matsui impressed and had one assist in his first two games, and goaltender Austin Roden even hit the scoresheet with a secondary assist. It now leaves Vincent Duplessis as the lone player on the Centennials without a point.
The season series between these two clubs sits 2-1 in favour of the Centennials. The last time these two teams met was down under in Wenatchee where the Cents split the double-header. In game one, the Cents came back from a slow start to win 4-3 in overtime, but in game 2 the Wild didn't allow the Cents to get off the mat and crushed them 6-1.
The Wild spent last weekend playing host to a couple of Mainland Division opponents and capitalized on a 5-2 win over Surrey and a 6-1 win over the Coquitlam Express. Josh Arnold had a 3 point night, and was a force to be reckoned with when these teams faced each other in Wenatchee.
The Cents are still holding form offensively, and now sit just 1 goal back of 100 for the season. Brad Cocca has provided 35 points for 3rd in league scoring, Nick Granowicz's 18 goals are good enough for 2nd in the league and his 33 points are 4th, and Mathieu Gosselin has moved up to 7th BCHL-wide with a 5 assist weekend and 30 points.
The Wild are led by Captain Lucas Sowder with 25 points (good enough for 19th overall), Murphy Stratton with 22, and Matt Gosiewski with 20 points.
The special teams battle sees both teams with an edge:
Powerplay: Penalty Kill:
Cents - 19.5% - 9th Cents - 77% - 15th
Wild - 17.8% - 12th Wild - 80.6% - 9th
The goaltending duel sees both Centennials netminders playing well. Austin Roden is coming off an 8-3 victory and is now 9-5 with a .889 SV%, a 3.74 GAA and 1 shutout. Vincent Duplessis won a couple in a row and sports a .907 SV% and a 3.25 GAA. The Wild have split time between both their goalies. Cal Sandqvist is 6-4 with a .885 SV% and a 2.43 GAA while Austin Park is 6-7 with a .872 SV% and a 3.21 GAA.
Head Coach Joe Martin knows that the Wenatchee Wild are always a tough team to play against.
"I think they've been playing some of their best hockey in a small sample size over the last little while, and we have something to prove against them after our last loss."
The Cents will look to prove that they belong at the top of the Interior Division standings tonight.
For fans interested in getting another chance at the limited edition Centennials Cancer Awareness jersey they can do so by pledging a minimum of $10 towards their favourite Centennials in the Movember waxing challenge. Either find Melanie at Mellah Leuca during the week, or at any home game during November.
Puck drop 7;m. Pre-Game 6:45 on Q101.1FM or q101.ca with Jared Thomas.
For the third time this season Nick Granowicz has been named an honorable mention in the BCHL's Player of the Week.
A native of Macomb, Michigan, Granowicz scored the game winning goal on the powerplay in Friday's 4-3 thriller over the Vernon Vipers with 6 minutes to go in the third.
The following game in a key match up for Interior Division superiority, 'Game On' Grano had two goals on the PP, and assisted another in an 8-3 win. His first goal stood up to be the eventual game-winner, and he was awarded first star of the game.
The future Michigan Wolverine, Granowicz now leads the Cents in goals with 18 and game-winning goals with 5. He will get a chance to capture his first true BCHL Player of the Week as the Cents have three games this week against the Wenatchee Wild on Wednesday, the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on Friday, and the Trail Smoke Eaters on Saturday.
The Merritt Centennials and West Kelowna Warriors was chalked up to be a meeting of two of the top teams in the Interior Division, but only one of those teams came to play as the Centennials stomped the Warriors 8-3.
The teams tested each other early in the first before the Centennials finally broke the deadlock. Rylan Van Unen received a feed from Payton Matsui and Brendan Schneider, and ripped a quick shot from the high slot, top shelf to get the 1-0 lead. Matthew Kopperud got the second goal of the night by dangling past a defender, regaining the puck and then shooting down low to beat Connor Hopkins. Schneider got the third goal of the game on the Cents first powerplay, after Nick Wicks saucered a feed across for a Gosselin one-timer, Schneider found the big rebound for the 3-0 lead. Shots after one were 17-8 Centennials with Austin Roden making the start.
In the second, the Cents powerplay continued it's torrid pace with Gosselin finding Nick Granowicz on the back door, not once but twice. Granowicz finished off two beautiful set ups by the Goose at the 1:46 mark and the 5:50 mark to give the Cents a 5-0 lead and chase Connor Hopkins from the net. Ironically, on the goal Roden picked up his first assist of the season, and leaves Vincent Duplessis as the only player on the Centennials who hasn't registered at least a point. The Warriors would score on the breakaway to break the goose egg for Roden, but Christian Sabin and Joey Berkopec would answer right back for the Centennials and Brock Baier would have a rocky start to his relief duties. The Warriors would add another before Brad Cocca would convert on a goal-mouth shot after following Nick Granowicz to the net. Shots through 2 were 29-21 Cents
The Warriors would score the lone goal of the third period, but it could've been more than one if not for sensational saves from Roden during the final 20 minutes. He ended up stopping 42 of 45 shots for the victory.
Energy Player of the Game - Joey Berkopec - 1G, 1A
3rd Star - Austin Roden - 42 saves on 45 shots
2nd Star - Mathieu Gosselin - 3A
1st Star - Nick Granowicz - 2G, 1A
After the game Head Coach Joe Martin credited the win to one thing.
"I think our intensity carried over from our game on Friday, and the guys were ready to play. They were fighting for he puck all over the ice, and just wanted it more, and it showed on the scoreline."
Next up for the Cents is the Wenatchee Wild at the NVMA on Wednesday night, 7pm puck drop.
The Merritt Centennials (14-8-0-1) lock horns in a shootout for first place this afternoon against the West Kelowna Warriors (14-7-0-1).
The Cents are coming off a 4-3 thriller against the Vernon Vipers on Friday night. The Cents never trailed in the game, but the Vipers were quick to tie things up throughout. The special teams were electric for the Cents going 0/6 on the penalty kill, and 3/5 on the powerplay. Goals with the extra man came from Matt Kopperud, Christian Sabin, and Nick Granowicz. Captain Nick Wicks scored the lone goal at even strength, and the Grano got the go ahead goal with 6 minutes remaining in the third. Vincent Duplessis was sensational in a first star performance where he stopped 43 of 46 shots.
The West Kelowna Warriors will remember the last time they played the Centennials well, as it was one of the last time they tasted defeat. They followed that up with two more losses, but since then they've gone on an 8 game win streak, and have streaked into a tie with the Centennials and the Penticton Vees atop the Interior division. The lone game of the season so far was a wild offensive affair, the Cents opened the scoring with Brad Cocca, only to have the Warriors score three unanswered, but that didn't phase the Cents as they responded with three of their own from Brady Ziemer, Brendan Schneider, and Matt Kopperud. The 5-3 showing after one would be plenty for most teams, but not the Merritt Centennials. Mathieu Gosselin would score the lone goal of the second period for the Cents, with the Warriors answering with one, and in the third the Cents took advantage of a parade to the penalty box to make it an 8-4 final. Cocca, Vincent Guy, and Mike Van Unen would add three in the final frame.
The Warriors extended the win streak to 8 last night with a victory over the lowly Surrey Eagles. A 5 point night from Mike Hardman gave the Warriors a 6-2 win, the powerplay went 2/3, and Brock Baier stopped 30/32.
The Cents continue to be led by Brad Cocca with 31 points, Nick Granowicz is on his heels with 30, and Mathieu Gosselin has 27.
The Warriors are led by Willie Reim with 28 points, Mike Hardman with 26, and Chase Dubois with 23.
The special teams battle sees the Warriors with the edge, but the Cents will be looking to build off their best special teams game of the season:
Powerplay: Penalty Kill:
Cents - 18.3% (10th) Cents - 77.2% (15th)
Warriors - 21.2% (4th) Warriors - 81.3% (9th)
The goaltending duel will see Austin Roden return to the crease for the first time in 5 games, as Vincent Duplessis has held the fort for a while. Roden is 8-5 with an .885 SV%, 3.80 GAA, and 1 shutout. Duplessis is 6-3 .907 SV%and a 3.25GAA. Brock Baier has impressed since coming to the West Kelowna Warriors. He is 6-2 with a .916 SV% and a 3.07 GAA. Connor Hopkins is 8-4 with a .912 SV% and a 3.09 GAA.
Head Coach Joe Martin knows that West Kelowna is on a roll and will be coming in with lots of confidence.
"These guys are hot, they've been getting bounces going their way, but we just have to stick to our game plan and hopefully we will have a similar result to what we had the last time out against them."
It's a matinee match up between the Warriors and the Cents. 2pm Puck drop, 1:45 Pre-Game on Q101.1FM and Q101.ca with Jared Thomas.
The Merritt Centennials waited until the third period to get the game winner for the second time in this four game homestand as they topped the Vipers 4-3 in regulation time.
The Cents and Vipers started off slow in the first. Shots from distance were the order of the early goings, but both teams would cash in on bank shots off the end boards. Matt Kopperud opened the scoring 7:51 into the game on the powerplay, after a shot from Jaydon Fetter went wide, between the legs of Porter off the back boards, and onto the stick off Kopper to the side of the net. The Vipers would answer just under a minute later on a similar play. A shot wide bounced off Vincent Duplessis, and then out to the slot to Sebastien Streu who tied it at ones. That would be the score after 20. Shots were 13-7 after 1. Aiden Porter got the start for the VIpers.
In the second period, the Cents would regain the lead at the 12:30 mark, and once again it would come thanks to the powerplay. This time it was a Mathieu Gosselin shot from the top of the right circle that Porter would stop, only to have deflect off a hard-charging Christian Sabin and into the net. The 2-1 lead would last until late in the 2nd, when the Vipers answered just after a penalty against the Centennials had expired. Shots after two were 33-20.
The final frame saw the Centennials get out to an early lead, Nick Wicks converted on a loose puck to the side of the net to make it 3-2 just 4:46 into the period. Once again, the Vipers didn't take long to answer as Teddy Wooding converted after Mike Van Unen coughed up the puck at centre ice. The Centennials would score their 3rd goal on the powerplay for the eventual game-winner. Brad Cocca buzzed behind the net and found Nick Granowicz out front for a quick bang-bang play to make it 4-3 with 6:31 remaining in the third. The Cents would hang on to win, with Duplessis stopping 43/46 shots in the winning effort. Aiden Porter stopped 23/27 for the Vipers in the loss.
After the game, Head Coach Joe Martin said that the biggest plus was the special teams performance.
"I think we've been waiting for a game like that. Where we shut down a team on the penalty kill and are really able to make them pay with the extra man."
With the win the Cents move back into sole possession of first place in the Interior Division, but the West Kelowna Warriors play the Surrey Eagles tomorrow night.
Energy Player of the Game:
3rd Star - Teddy Wooding 1G, 1A
2nd Star - Matt Kopperud 1G, 1A
1st Star - Vincent Duplessis 43 saves on 46 shots
Next up: West Kelowna Warriors on Sunday Afternoon - 2pm puck drop.