The Centennials faced off against the Vees yet again, and once again it was the Vees who came out on top 5-2.
Although there was no scoring in the early goings of the first period, the Cents did manage to ripple mesh first. At the 14:28 mark of the 1st, Sean Michalevich converted on a rebound after a low shot by Rylan Van Unen bounced off the pads of Yaniv Perets into the slot. Unfortunately for the Cents, they quickly surrendered the equalizer as just 20 seconds later Alex DiPaolo converted from the high slot with a shot through the wickets of Ryan Winter who saw his first action for the Centennials. Early on the whistles were in the pocket for the game as the Cents and Vees only got one opportunity a piece in the opening frame. Shots were 15-10 in favour of the Vees after 1.
The Vees took control early in the 2nd with quick goals from Jack Barnes and Evan McIntyre to give them a two goal edge not even 70 seconds into the period. Vincent Nardone scored short handed at the 12:30 mark, and DiPaolo earned his 2nd of the game by batting a puck out of mid-air and into the net. Matt Osadick finally supplied an answer for the Centennials, sniping one low on Perets after possibly the best shift of the game where the Cents were making good crisp passes and moving the puck laterally around the zone. After 2 the shots were 30-23.
In the third, the game degraded into a parade to the penalty box. The Vees were in trouble early after taking Osadick out of the game with a high-stick. Holding a bloody rag to his mouth Osadick went to the tunnel for repairs and didn't return. The Cents couldn't find the back of the net despite a lengthy 5-on-3 powerplay, and then the Vees started to get opportunities. Despite all the chances on the powerplay, neither team converted with the extra man. Merritt also found themselves short two returning defenseman as Joey Berkopec and Talon Zakall were both given misconducts towards the end of the game. The final shots were 37 to 33 in favour of the Vees.
The Cents should expect to be down to a manageable number on the roster before facing the defending champion Prince George Spruce Kings on Wednesday in PG and Friday in Merritt.
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The Merritt Centennials and the Penticton Vees clash for the second time in two nights in the latter half of a home-at-home series tonight at the NVMA.
Last night it was the veteran laden Vees lineup that got the better of the Centennials. Despite a quick goal by Olson Werenka just 45 seconds into the game, David Silye scored before the 1:30 mark of the first and the tie would last until the end of the frame. The Cents pushed the pace in the first period drawing 3 penalties, but couldn't convert on any powerplay opportunities. Shots after 1 were 8-8 with Aiden Hosein and Derek Krall allowing 1 goal apiece.
In the second the Vees ramped up the pressure and the Cents started to buckle. If not for some stellar play from Hosein and then Jakob Gullmes the Cents could've been in a lot worse situation, even so the Vees scored on a goal mouth scramble after Gullmes couldn't cover a puck to the side of the net, the Vees fed it back to the point and Steve Holtz blasted a shot up high before Gullmes could get set. After two period of play the score was 2-1 but the Vees started to pull away on the shot clock 26-16.
The third saw the Vees continue to push for more, and the Cents youngsters started to show their age as they were running out of gas. The Vees got their 5th powerplay opportunity of the night and were finally able to convert. First round Flyers pick Jay O'Brien showed off some moves, cutting in from the top of the right circle and firing mid-blocker on Gullmes to make it 3-1. A deflection goal that would have made it 4-1 was called off and 3-1 would be the final.
The Cents went 0-5 on the powerplay, while the Vees were 1/5.
Head Coach Barry Wolff says the roster should slim down after last nights match up and tonight should feature a few more regulars at the NVMA as the Cents try and return the favour to the Vees in their first home contest.
Puck Drop 7pm at the NVMA. Entrance by donation. Jared Thomas and Michael Reeve with the call on Hockey TV starting at 6:55.
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The Cents started well, but faded down the stretch as the veteran heavy Vees pulled away late to make it a 3-1 final.
The Merritt Centennials began their first exhibition game with a bang as Olson Werenka proved he's more than just a guy who bangs bodies. He scored the Cents first goal of the pre-season just 45 seconds into the first frame to give them the early lead after a pass by Daniel Tkac. However, David Silye quickly tied things up before the period was over a minute and thirty seconds old. Aiden Hosein got the start in net and after a shaky start settled in nicely making a couple huge saves to keep it tight throughout the remainder of the first period. Shots after one were 8-8 with the score tied at 1.
The second stanza saw the Vees slowly begin to impose their will on the game and the Centennials goaltenders had to be sharp to keep it close. Holtz scored for the Vees from the point midway through the frame to give them their first lead of the game after Jakob Gullmes took over duties in the crease. Shots after 2 were 26-16 as the Cents started to get buried in their own end.
The final frame saw the Vees continue to push the pace and the Centennials fall back on their heels. After earning their 5th powerplay of the night the Vees finally converted as former first round NHL draft pick Jay O'Brien performed a clinical deke from the point and then fired a shot past the blocker of Gullmes to make it 3-1. A 4-1 goal was called off due to a high stick, and the Vees played out the final minutes to secure the 3-1 victory. The Cents without much familiarity on special teams went 0/5 on the PP.
Troy Quinn looked good in his debut as a Cent, and Werenka anchored a young blue line. The standout among hopefuls was former Cariboo Cougars d-man Brophy Dunne, he contributed with a couple of big hits and some solid defensive play throughout the game.
Up front the Cents struggled to maintain zone time and apart from the first period didn't look overly threatening in the offensive zone. Tkac, Matsui, and Guy had some solid rushes, but the Cents will be looking for a more consistent attack up front tomorrow.
The Cents and Vees will do it all again Saturday night from the NVMA. Puck Drop 7pm, entrance by donation. The game will be available on Hockey TV.
The Merritt Centennials open up their exhibition season against long time rival Penticton Vees tonight at the SOEC at 7pm. The game will be available to watch on HockeyTV.
The Centennials will get their first taste of competition outside of their own team tonight after they played a very high paced, action packed intrasquad game on Wednesday night. Plenty of returning players got into the mix as well as a number of newcomers, but now the roster has been trimmed further with 35 players still competing to be a part of the opening day roster.
Reigning Playoff MVP Payton Matsui doesn't look like he's missed a step as he scored a natural hat trick in the game on Wednesday night. Newcomer Carson Preston from the BC Major Midget League's Valley West Giants also looked impressive as he netted two goals including the OT winner. Returners Brett Roloson and Vincent Guy both also managed to find the score sheet and it served as a solid tune up for the returning defenders - Joey Berkopec and Talon Zakall as well as the trade acquisitions, Olson Werenka, Tanner Mortenson, Chase Nameth and Matt Osadick. Most returning players got an opportunity to show their stuff to new bench boss Barry Wolff save for Ben Ward and Daniel Tkac. Expect them to be in the line up tonight.
The Penticton Vees are coming off a 2-1 win in their first exhibition game of the season against the West Kelowna Warriors, but could inject some more veterans into their line up in front of a home town crowd.
Head Coach Barry Wolff says they'll have to match the Vees intensity.
"We have to make sure that we match their compete level, you know at home they're going to ice a good line up. We might be a little younger than they are, but we need to make sure we rise to the occasion, play smart defensively, and try and win the game."
The Centennials will make additional releases after tonight's game before tomorrows home contest against the same Penticton Vees at the NVMA at 7pm. Entrance one again will be by donation.
Another former Centennials player is taking the next steps in his career as alumnus Jake Clifford who played with the Centennials from 2013-15 has signed with the Tulsa Oilers of the ECHL.
A native of Brecksville, Ohio, Clifford suited up for 102 games on the back end for Merritt scoring 12 goals and adding 32 assists that earned him a commitment to a then fairly new NCAA Division I program, the Arizona State Sun Devils. Over four years with ASU, Clifford played 97 games and is coming off his best NCAA season in his senior year where he scored 3 goals and added 4 assists and was a +7 over 34 games.
In the Tulsa Oilers he joins the ECHL affiliate of the reigning Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues.