The Cents were looking for their first win against the Vees in over a year, and will have to continue waiting as they fell 6-2 at the SOEC on Wednesday night.
The Centennials were playing the perfect road game until penalty trouble late in the first opened the game up. Vincent Guy went off for elbowing at the 16:38 mark, and Ryan Sandelin of the Vees quickly followed suit, but 4-on-4 the Vees would strike for the first goal of the game off a centering feed to Luke Sillinger. Jaydon Fetter was called for a spearing double-minor at the 17:43 mark putting the Cents in a rare 4-on-3 situation. Mike Van Unen would make it worse when he went off for slashing 10 seconds later, and then the Vees went to work with the extra man. Sandelin scored after coming out of the box to make it a two- man advantage and then Conner Hutchison added another to make it 3-0 before the end of the first. Vincent Duplessis stopped 11/14 in the first while Jack Lafontaine stopped all 6 shots he faced.
The second period saw the Cents take steps forwards, and back as the penalties continued but no one found the back of the net in the second. Through two Duplessis stopped 23/26 and Lafontaine hadn’t let any by of the 11 the Cents threw on net.
The Cents came out more determined in the third and were rewarded early when Mike Van Unen scored his first of the year. A play off the rush that saw Nick Wicks, drop it back for Brad Cocca who unleashed a shot that let out a large rebound that Van Unen cleaned up. However, with the Cents pushing at the tail end of a powerplay, they were caught pinching at the line and James Miller skated in uninhibited for a breakaway goal. Hutchison would add another on the powerplay before the rough stuff began. Christian Sabin dropped the mitts and thumped Lagerstrom of the Vees into submission with repeated rights. The fight energized both benches, but it paid dividends for the Cents as the Vees turned it over off an incoming hit to Matt Kopperud in the slot, and he dangled in and went back hand forehand past a sprawling Lafontaine to make it 5-2. Miller would silence the comeback trail with another goal on the partial breakaway to make it 6-2. Duplessis stopped 39/45 shots while LaFontaine stopped 19/21.
After the game Head Coach Joe Martin said that the team showed resilience despite calls not going their way.
“I think this team showed themselves that they have a whole other gear to work with. When the chips are down they can really find another level.”
The Cents will look to find that other level on Friday night when they return home to take on the Warriors. Puck Drop 7pm from the NVMA.
The Merritt Centennials (7-5) road swing continues after returning home from the Island, they travel over the Connector to take on the Penticton Vees (5-4).
This wil be the Cents 5th road game in a row, and so far on the road trip they are 3-1, picking up wins over the Vipers, the Bulldogs, and the Eagles while suffering their lone defeat at the hand of the Capitals. The Cents picked up 4 of a possible 6 points last weekend, and hope to carry over some momentum from their last win against the Eagles. If they can manage a similar start, one that saw them shoot out to a 3-0 lead in the first 10 minutes of play with goals from Mathieu Gosselin, Brett Roloson, and Rylan Van Unen, they should be okay. Nick Granowicz got the eventual game winner, as the Centennials weathered a late Eagles comeback to win 4-3. Vincent Duplessis also picked up his third win in as many starts against the Eagles.
The Vees spoiled the celebration of the Humboldt Broncos when these teams met last, jumping out to a 4-0 lead in the first, and making it 5-0 before the Cents started to turn the game around. The Cents would get as close as 5-3 before the Vees iced the game on the powerplay with a goal from then newcomer Andre Ghantous to win 6-3.
Penticton is coming off a 2-1 loss against the Vernon Vipers, but before that had rattled off three in a row, including that game on September 28 against the Centennials. They also continue to tinker with their group as they've added Eric Linell, former Eagles and Express forward, to the mix and have parted ways with Devon Mussio.
Brad Cocca and Nick Granowicz represent the Cents in the top 10 in league scoring with 15 and 14 points a piece, and Granowicz is coming off an honorable mention after scoring 3 goals and adding an assist over the Island road swing. Mathieu Gosselin and Nick Wicks aren't far behind with 12 points each.
The Vees continue to rely on David Silye to provide offense as he has 16 points. The're hoping newcomer Eric Linell can continue to produce in a Vees uniform as he has 12 points, and Ryan Sandelin has chipped in with 8.
The Cents continue to win without elite special teams. They are now 15th in the league with the extra man at 14.9% and last in the league in regards to the penalty kill at 72.7%. The Vees have the edge at 13th on the powerplay with 15.2% and 8th on the penalty kill at 83.8%
In net the Cents are stil looking for a break out game from either Austin Roden or Vincent Duplessis. Duplessis has won his last 3 starts and is 3-2 with a .891 SV% and a 3.10 GAA. Roden has picked up more wins at 4-3, but has a .877 SV% and a 4.10 GAA. The Vees have gotten some solid performances from Jack Lafontaine who is 4-3 with a .917 SV% and a 1.87 GAA. However, the Cents last saw Derek Krall who is 1-1 with an .881 SV% and a 3.55 GAA.
Head Coach Joe Martin says the Vees present a challenge, especially on their ice.
"You can't get lost looking at the Vees record, Penticton wil always be Pentiction, and they'll always be a good club. They've made some improvements, and we have to continue to improve."
The Cents will hope to end a losing streak against the Vees that goes all the way back to Game 7 of the 2016-17 Playoffs.
Puck Drop 7pm. Pre-Game 6:45 on Q101.1FM or online at q101.ca with Jared Thomas
Fresh off an Island road trip that saw the Cents pick up 4 of a possible 6 points, forward Nick Granowicz is getting recognition from the BCHL for his efforts.
Granowicz compiled 3 goals and 1 assist over the road trip where he found the back of the net in each contest. On Friday, against the Bulldogs he had a goal and an assist, and was recognized as the games first star. He followed that up with a game-tying goal against the Cowichan Valley Capitals before they stormed back and took the game 4-2, and on Sunday he pocketed the goal that would be the eventual game-winner against the Eagles.
Granowicz, at 13 points through 12 games played, is now hot on the heels of Brad Cocca, who has 14 points, for the team scoring lead.
Cents have another busy week ahead with matchups against the Penticton Vees on Wednesday, West Kelowna Warriors on Friday, and a rematch against the Capitals on Sunday afternoon.
The Centennials finish the road trip strong and top the Surrey Eagles with a 4-3 win to take 4 of a possible 6 points on the Island swing.
The Cents came out flying in the first and converted on an early two-on-one just over a minute in. Brad Cocca broke in on the right side, and feathered a pass across to Mathieu Gosselin who finished up and over Kyle Dumba who was making his first BCHL start of the season for the Eagles. Brett Roloson gave the Cents a two goal edge at the 2:18 mark after getting a similar feed from Christian Sabin. Rylan Van Unen kept the Cents offensive wheels turning when he poke checked a defender and broke in alone cut to the net, pulled the puck backhand, forehand and chipped it over Dumba to make it 3-0. The Eagles got a late marker in the first on the ‘powerplay’ to get on the board 3-1. Dumba stopped 16/19 shots while Duplessis stopped 6/7.
The second period didn’t see as much offense as the first as Nick Granowicz got the lone tally for his 3rd goal in as many games after a nice cross-ice feed from Captain Nick Wicks. Vincent Duplessis 10 in the second, and Dumba stopped 13/14.
In the last period of the road trip the Cents were looking to hang on to a 3 goal lead. The Eagles cut the lead to two, halfway through the second when Captain Ty Westgard was able to beat Duplessis after finding a loose puck in the slot. Then with the net empty, the Eagles got a deflection in front to pull within one, but that would be as close as they’d come as Duplessis and the Cents would hang on.
Vincent Duplessis won his third start in a row, and the Cents have won 3 of their last 4.
Head Coach Joe Martin said the road trip was a success overall.
“I think we saw the team play our game throughout the weekend, use our offense, use our speed, but there’s definitely more to work on.”
Next up the Penticton Vees on Wednesday night at 7pm.
The Merritt Centennials (6-5) finish their road trip on Thanksgiving Sunday with a matinee matchup against the Surrey Eagles .
The Cents are coming off a loss to the last place Cowichan Valley Capitals, and learned that no team can be underestimated. The Capitals were able to use the strength of 3 powerplay goals to power past the Cents, and 3 goals were deflections in front leaving Austin Roden hopeless. The Cents tied the game at twos with goals from Mathieu Gosselin and Nick Granowicz, but weren't able to push for more as the Capitals used a late powerplay to gain the lead, and then added some insurance in the third period.
The Surrey Eagles aren't a team that should be underestimated as they've already proven to be a tough test against the Centennials this season. Back at the NVMA in the third game of the season, the Cents looked to be in the driver seat heading into the third period with a 5-1 lead, but the Eagles soared back in the third period and the final score was a barn burning 7-6. The game saw goals from Mathieu Gosselin, Rylan Van Unen, and Brendan Schneider who all had two while Daniel Tkac added his first of the season. The Cents will need to learn from their most recent loss, and their most recent matchup against the Eagles to get past a tough test in Surrey.
The Eagles have been making changes following a late in the off-season coaching change from Brandon West to Peter Schaeffer. Head Coach Schaeffer has been making personnel changes throughout the early goings of the season, and the Cents will face a very different looking Eagles team than the last time out. The Eagles started the season 0-5 before picking up their first win against the Vernon Vipers. They've also won games against the Prince George Spruce Kings and the surprising Coquitlam Express so they've proven they can beat top teams.
The Centennials have slipped to second in the Interior Division and with only two points seperating the top from the bottom of the division, the pressure is on to keep on winning. Once again, the Cents will be playing a team that is at the bottom of their respective division as the Eagles are 3-6, and are coming off a tight one goal loss. The Cents are 2nd in the league in goals for, and will face the only team in the league that's allowed more goals in the Surrey Eagles with 46. Goaltending continues to be an issue for the Cents as they haven't had one of their netminders really steal a game this year.
Brad Cocca still leads the Cents in scoring despite being held off the scoresheet last night, he has 14 points. Nick Granowicz has been the most consistent Cent on this road trip and is now up to 13 points. Nick Wicks, Brendan Schneider, and Mathieu Gosselin are all right behind with 11 points.
The Eagles have the highest flying goal scorer in the league in Ty Westgard with 18 points, and they traded their second highest scorer Eric Linell to the Penticton Vees this week, leaving Chase Stevenson as the other top threat with 10 points.
The special teams battle sees the Cents continue to struggle as well coming off a 1/7 performance, they've now slipped to 15.9% but remain in 10th spot league wide. The Eagles are last in the league with the man advantage with a 9.6% conversion rate, however, they have the top ranked penalty kill in the league at 88.9%. The Cents at the opposite end of the spectrum with the worst ranked penalty kill in the league at 73%
In net the Cents will hope for a better performance this afternoon as Vincent Duplessis could get the tap on the shoulder. Now 2-2 with a 3.13 GAA and an .888 SV% he has the better numbers. Austin Roden slips to 4-3 with a 4.14 GAA and a .877 SV%. The Eagles have made some moves in net acquiring Cayden Bailey who is 2-4 wtih a 3.43 GAA and a .908 SV%. Daniel Davidson is the other option with a 1-2 record, a 4.66 GAA, and an .879 SV%.
Head Coach Joe Martin understands that this is an Eagles team that continues to improve.
"This team gave us a run for our money the last time out, and they've been making changes to make their team better, so we have to be better against them."
Puck Drop 4pm. Pre-Game 3:45 on Q101.1FM and online at q101.ca with Jared Thomas.