The Merritt Centennials have their home finale tonight at the NVMA against the West Kelowna Warriors. The game is huge on the ice, and in the building the Cents will be celebrating the life of Ty Pozzobon while also having a Mental Health night in the arena.
The Cents still have an outside chance at catching the West Kelowna Warriors in the standings, but it starts with a win tonight. Combined with a win tomorrow night against Langley, and the Warriors losing their remaining game against the Silverbacks, the Cents could finish as high as 5th place in the Interior.
Merritt comes in red hot, unbeaten in their last 6, and the offense is coming to life as well fresh off a 7- 4 win on Tuesday, and a 6-1 win against the Silverbacks last night. Contributions are coming from everywhere and from unlikely sources: Mike Van Unen, who only had one goal on the year coming in, got two on the powerplay last night, Mathieu Gosselin, Jackson Munro, Brendan Scneider, and Matt Kopperud supplied the rest of the offense. Despite the huge win, the Cents had a big loss - a hit up high early to Captain Tyrell Buckley had him leave the game with the support of two team mates with concussion symptoms. Austin Roden continued his strong play stopping 25 of 26, continuing a 5 game unbeaten streak.
The Warriors are 3-4-1-0 in the month of February and are coming off a heart breaking 7-6 overtime loss to the Wenatchee Wild. The Warriors were leading 4-2 after two periods of play, before the Wild exploded for 4 goals in the 3rd. It was the Warriors who actually had to pull the goalie to tie the game late, and in overtime it was Matt Dorsey who beat Nic Amundrud to take it in the first overtime frame.
The Cents and Warriors last met in early February, where Merritt was victorious by a 6-3 score. It was the coming out party for what was then the newly minted line of Zach Risteau, Brendan Schneider and Zach Court - in the 9 games since, they've combined for 37 points. Rylan Van Unen and Risteau tallied in the first, Risteau added another in the second, as did Tyrell Buckley on the powerplay, and Brad Cocca and Brendan Schneider tallied in the third. RJ Murphy, Ryan Steele, and Chase Dubois had goals for the Warriors, Cole Demers took the loss, and Jacob Berger seized the win.
The Warriors are led by Chase Dubois with 57 points, Captain Jared Marino has 53, Ryan Steele has fit in well since coming over from the Alberni Valley Bulldogs and has 53 points, RJ Murphy as 44, and Mike Ryan is their leading defenseman with 42 points.
The Cents are getting contributions from up and down the line up, but the players that have shot up their point totals late in the season are Nick Wicks with 46, Zach Court with 41, Brendan Schneider with 36, and Zach Risteau is up to 20 poitns despite only playing in 19 games.
The special teams battle sees the Merritt Centennials also catching fire at the right time, now 4th on the powerplay at 21.3% while the Warriors are 6th with 20.4%. On the Penalty Kill, the Cents up to 6th at 83.2% while the Warriors are the worst team in the playoff picture at 16th with 76.7%.
In net, the Cents last saw Cole Demers of the Warriors, but with the game meaning so much we could see Nik Amundrud get the start. Amundrud is 16-16 with a 89.7 SV%, 3.44 GAA, and 1 shutout. Cole Demers is 10-10-0-1 with an 89.3 SV%, a 3.68 GAA, and 1 shutout. The Cents will have a similar decision to make between the pipes, as Austin Roden is red hot, but Jacob Berger also picked up a win his last time out. Roden 12-9-1-3 with a 93.1 SV%, a 2.41 GAA and 2 shutouts. Berger 13-21-2-0 with a 90.6 SV%, a 3.43 GAA, and 2 shutouts.
The Cents hope they can use the positive energy in the stands tonight to propel the to a W and stay hot heading into the post season.
Puck Drop 7pm at the NVMA, Pre-Game 6:45 with Jared Thomas on Q101.1FM or online at q101.ca.
The Merritt Centennials punished the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on the powerplay, and mopped up on the scoreboard 6-1, but with Captain Tyrell Buckley going down early after a dangerous hit to the head, the win felt a little empty.
Just 3 and a half minutes into the game, Logan Mostat caught Tyrell Buckley with a hit up high in the Cents corner, and the Captain fell to the ice awkwardly, and had trouble gaining his feet as he had to be helped to the dressing room by Joey Berkopec and a Cents volunteer. He wouldn't come back in the game, and he won't likely play for the remainder of the weekend.
The Cents sought to make the Silverbacks pay on the ensuing 5 minute major. Mike Van Unen opened the scoring with a shot from the line that found its way through and beat Reid Cooper.
2 and a half minutes later with the Cents on a two-man advantage, Mathieu Gosselin sniped one from the short side near the goal line, after playing give-and-go with Nick Wicks, the shot baffled Cooper and had a good angle on it to make it 2-0.
The Cents would start the second on the powerplay, after another dangerous hit behind the net, this time on Joey Berkopec. Mike Van Unen would tally his second of the game from Gosselin and Cleghorn, increasing his season total by 200% as he's now up to 3 on the year.
A minute and a half later Jackson Munro scored his 3rd of the season, a top corner snipe where he used the bodies in front as a screen.
Towards the end of the second Matt Kopperud converted on a gift from Reid Cooper who went outto play the puck behind the net, promptly gave it away to Wicks in the corner, who found Kopperud out front to tap it into the open net to make it 5-0. THat was the end of Cooper's night. Kyle Dumba came on in relief after that.
The third period saw Austin Roden's bid for a shutout broken at the 11:01 mark by Nick Unruh. Roden made 25/26 shots during the game.
Brendan Schneider added another, once again on the powerplay with 5:13 to go in the 3rd period. After a feed from Zach Court, Schneider made the move to the back hand and slid it past Dumba for the final goal of the game.
The Silverbacks spent the majority of the night in the box, but the Cents punished them for it going 4/6 on the powerplay.
Next game goes tomorrow night against the West Kelowna Warriors for the final home game of the season. It's mental health night, and the Cents will wear their
The Merritt Centennials (23-26-4-2) are set for an even bigger collision course with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (23-27-3-1) tonight for a rescheduled contest at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.
These two teams have been doing a dance all season, jockeying for position in the extremely tight Interior Division, and this game could go a long way to deciding who finishes the season in 6th. The Cents come in with the hotter hand, unbeaten in their last 5, while the Silverbacks are losers of their last three and have only managed to score 1 goal in those losses. The 'Backs were shutout by Trail and Victoria, before managing one goal against the Penticton Vees who trounced the 'Backs 8-1. They won't have much time to lick their wounds as they are in the second game of a string of 5 straight, and the Cents can continue those woes with a win tonight.
The season series has the Cents in the drivers seat with a 3-2 edge with wins in the two most recent matchups. 4-1 in December and 4-2 in January. Both those wins coming on home ice, and a chance to sweep their home games tonight. Back in January it was Zach Zorn with one, and Mathieu Gosselin with 2 that saw the Cents jump out to a 3-0 lead early into the second period. The Silverbacks came back with 2 goals in the second to make it a one goal game heading into the third, but Brendan Schneider was able to add some insurance late in the third. Austin Roden stopped 39 of 41 shots for the win, while Kyle Dumba took the loss for the 'Backs.
The Cents last game, and last win was on Tuesday night against the Trail Smoke Eaters. The Cents jumped out to what seemed an insurmountable 6-1 lead through 2 periods of play, and then buckled a little in the third with Trail coming back to make it 6-4, before the Cents locked it away with a goal from Ashton Stockie to seal a 7-4 win. The games other goals came from Zach Zorn with 2, while Brendan Schneider, Christian Sabin, and Matt Kopperud.
The Silverbacks despite their offensive woes of late still have a few players worth checking closely. Rhett Kingston leads the team with 48 points, Tanner Campbell has 34, and Nick Unruh and Akito Hirose both have 27. The Cents are heating up at the right time, and are getting contributions from everyone in the lineup. Nick Wicks is coming off a nomination for Most Sportsmanlike in the league and has 44 points, Zorn netted two on tuesday and has 40, Zach Court is sitting on the 40 bubble with 39 points, and Tyrell Buckley fresh off a college commitment from the Michigan Tech Huskies has 37.
The special teams matchup sees the Cents coming in hot. In their 5 game unbeaten streak they've managed to score at least one powerplay goal in each game and 8 overall, while they've only allowed 1 powerplay goal against in 20 opportunities. The Cents now 7th on the powerplay with a 20.2% conversion rate, while the 'Backs are 10th with 17.9%, and on the penalty kill the Cents are 6th in the league at 83% while the 'Backs are 15th at 77.7%.
In net the Cents haven't seen the likes of Reid Cooper this season, but have seen plenty of Kyle Dumba. Both goalies saw action last night in the 8-1 loss against Penticton. Dumba is 8-17-0-1 with an 89.4 SV% and a 3.88 GAA. Cooper is 8-13-0-1 with a 90.2 SV%, a 3.52 GAA and 1 shutout. Jacob Berger collected the win on Tuesday, but with 3 games in the next 3 nights the Cents will need to rely on both of their goaltenders. Berger is 13-21-2-0 with a 90.6 SV%, a 3.43 GAA, and 2 shutouts. Roden is heating up with the Cents as well and is 11-9-1-3 with a BCHL 2nd best 93.0 SV%, a BCHL 6th 2.47 GAA, and 2 shutouts.
The Cents hope to stay hot, and better their playoff seeding in the season finale against the Silverbacks tonight.
Puck Drop 7pm at the NVMA, Pre-Game 6:45 with Jared Thomas on Q101.1FM or online at q101.ca.
The Merritt Centennials Captain, Tyrell Buckley, has earned himself a college commitment in the final week, of his final season in the BCHL.
Buckley will play Division 1 NCAA Hockey with the Michigan Tech University Huskies next season.
A veteran of 4 BCHL seasonsy, all with the Cents, Buckley has proven he's a dynamic player in all situations.
Fresh off an honorable mention in the BCHL's Player of the Week award, Buckley is 7th in scoring amongst defensemen this season, and tied for first with 11 goals scored.
The BCHL released their finalists for year end awards today.
Among the finalists for the Bob Fenton Trophy for Most Sportsmanlike Player is Merritt's Nicholas Wicks.
He's up against Ben Poisson from Prince George and Gavin Rauser of the Powell River Kings.
Through the season Wicks has 44 points in 54 games played and has taken 3 penalties for 6 minutes.