Merritt Centennials
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The Cents stumbled on their road swing, as the penalty kill allowed 3 of the 4 goals scored, and the Cowichan Valley Capitals got their second win of the season 4-2.

The start wasn’t atrocious for the Cents, but it left something to be desired as they couldn’t beat rookie Matthew Waite in the first frame. The Capitals managed to beat Austin Roden twice, both goals coming on the powerplay, on deflections from Paul Selleck. Roden stopped 8/10 while Waite stopped 8/8 shots thrown his way.

In the second period, the Cents were able to answer with a powerplay of their own. Mathieu Gosselin got a cross-ice back door feed from Matt Kopperud to make it 2-1, but the Cents couldn’t muster any more offense despite multiple opportunities with the extra man. Despite firing 18 shots on net in the second Waite was only beaten once, while Roden only faced 9 and stopped them all.

The final frame saw the Cents fighting to get back into the game, and they were rewarded when Rylan Van Unen feathered a pass forward for Nick Granowicz who pulled the puck to his forehand in the slot and ripped a shot glove side to tie the game. However, the Capitals used their powerplay to restore the one goal edge, and quickly got some insurance to take it 4-2. Roden stopped 33/37 shots while Wait stopped 32/34.

The Cents lost the special team battle in this game, going 1/7 on the powerplay and surrendering 3/6 on the penalty kill.

Head Coach Joe Martin said getting out to the slow start didn’t help.

“I wasn’t pleased with our start, we got away from ourselves, and we got in an early hole because of it.”

The Cents hope to dig themselves out of the hole, and back in the win column tomorrow afternoon against the Surrey Eagles.

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The Merritt Centennials (6-4) continue the Island swing tonight against the Cowichan Valley Capitals (1-6-1). **PUCK DROP 6PM**

Last night the Cents picked up their second win in a row by edging the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 4-3. After the Bulldogs got the lone goal of the first period, Joey Berkopec was the first to beat John Hawthorne in the second period for his first goal of the season. Rylan Van Unen got his 6th goal of the year on a Cents powerplay to gain the one goal edge 2-1, but the Bulldogs would tie it up on a powerplay of their own. In the third, Nick Granowicz broke off the wall and slid a backhander low to baffle Hawthorne to restore the one goal edge 3-2, but once again the Bulldogs managed to beat Vincent Duplessis to tie the game at threes. The Cents pushed for the go-ahead, and persevered thanks to leading scorer Brad Cocca who wristed one blocker-side to give the Cents a 4-3 lead with a minute and a half remaining. Duplessis and the Cents would hang on for the victory to start this road trip off right. 

Last year the Centennials bested the Capitals on both occasions they played. The first game was a resounding 7-1 win, while the game on the Island was a shutout 4-0. 

The Capitals were the only team on the outside looking in when it came to the playoffs last season, and find themseles in the same spot to start the year at 1-6-1. Starting the year 0-3, they picked up their lone win 4-0 against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, and find themselves in a 5 game losing skid heading into tonights matchup. The Capitals also find themselves struggling on offense, as they've taken over the bottom of the league in goals for with 17, while the Cents continue to lead the way with 39. 

After his game-winning goal, Brad Cocca continues to power the Cents offense with 14 points, and following a two-point game Nick Granowicz moves into second on the team with 12 points. Captain Nick Wicks has 11 points, while Matt Kopperud, Mathieu Gosselin and Brendan Schneider all have 10 points a piece. 

The Capitals are led by Vincent Millette with 5 points and have a slough of players at 4 points a piece including: Luke Vanroboys, Ryan Moon, and Preston Brodziak. 

The special teams battle sees the Cents improve their numbers to 16.1% with the powerplay but remain in 10th in the league while the Capitals are 15th with a 13.5% conversion rate with the extra man. The Capitals have the edge on the penalty kill at 8th with 84.5% and the Cents are 15th with a 75.4% kill rate. 

In net the Cents will turn to Austin Roden for game 2, just up the road from his hometown Victoria. Sporting a record of 4-2, a save percentage of .874, and a goals against of 4.12, he looks to get back in the win column after being pulled in the 6-3 loss to Penticton after allowing 4 goals in the first. Vincent Duplessis has improved to 2-2 with an .888 SV% and a 3.13 GAA. Jack Grant has shouldered the majority of the starts for the Capitals and sits 1-6 with a .917 SV% and a 3.02 GAA. Matthew Waite is 0-1 with a 3.51 GAA and a .897 SV%. 

Head Coach Joe Martin anticipates a fierce physical battle tonight. 

"The Capitals play more of a physical game, so our guys will have to power through some hits and make some plays and just persevere."

The Cents will look to persevere tonight for ther 3rd win in a row against the Capitals. 

PUCK DROP 6PM. Pre-Game 6:45 on Q101.1FM or online at q101.ca with Jared Thomas. 

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The Merritt Centennials started the road trip off right with the help of some late game heroics from Brad Cocca as they edged the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 4-3.

The first period saw the Cents skating well, and they had more chances, but the Bulldogs scored against the grain when Nicholas Seitz got past a defender and wristed one from the outside, up high, on Vincent Duplessis. That would be the lone goal of the period as the Cents and Dogs would go 0/1 on the PP, but the Bulldogs would start the second with Joey Berkopec in the box. Duplessis stopped 7/8 shots, while John Hawthorne stopped all 13 he faced in the first.

The Cents would kill off the penalty to Berkopec, and when he rejoined his linemates, he found the back of the net. A quick D-to-D feed from left to right point saw Berkopec just throw one on net, and it found a hole, beating Hawthorne down low for the Ontario natives first of the season, and the Cents first of the game. Rylan Van Unen gave the Cents the lead after he took out the sand wedge and chipped one over the shoulder of Hawthorne in tight after being set up by Nick Wicks and Nick Granowicz on the powerplay. The Cents then surrendered the lead on the powerplay when Mitchell Deelstra cut up the middle and roofed one on Duplessis to tie things up heading into the third. Duplessis turned aside 17/19 while Hawthorne kept out 19/21.

The final frame saw the Centennials seize the lead early courtesy a power move off the wall by Granowicz to the slot where he let go a backhander that had enough to get across the line. The Bulldogs evened things up again just over halfway through the third when Ryan Miotto came across the line and ripped one up top before the Cents could mark him. Leading point-getter Brad Cocca played hero with 1:26 remaining in the third when he converted on a drop pass from Christian Sabin – a lock and load shot, beating Hawthorne blocker side. Duplessis finished the game stopping 24/27 shots for the win, while Hawthorne suffered the loss stopping 29/33.

After the game, Head Coach Joe Martin gave credit to his team for sticking it out against a tight-checking team.

“The Bulldogs don’t give you much to work with, they try and frustrate you, and then take advantage. The guys saw their way through that and were able to come up with key goals at key moments.”

The Island road swing continues tomorrow night at 6pm against the Cowichan Valley Capitals.

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The Merritt Centennials (5-4) begin their Island road swing tonight against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs (3-6).

Coming off their most successful September in terms of wins in 12 years, the Cents are looking to build another win streak after snapping a two-game skid with a 5-2 win against the Vernon Vipers on Saturday. That contest lived and died on the powerplay. In the first, the Cents got things going with a marker from Nick Granowicz, who got an early one with the man advantage, but the Vipers answered with a goal of their own on the PP. After starting the game 1/1 on the PP, the Cents had a string of 4 chances that went unfulfilled in the second, and the Vipers were able to slow the game down and take advantage on a counter-attack to make it 2-1 heading into the third. The Cents offense, and their powerplay came back to life in the third period where they had goals from Brad Cocca, Daniel Tkac, Mathieu Gosselin, and an empty netter from Brendan Schneider to make it 5-2. The powerplay went 3/7 and Vincent Duplessis picked up his first win of the year stopping 25 of 27 shots.

Last season, the Cents skated to a hard fought 3-3 tie in the Bulldog's barn, and the Cents were able to top the Dogs on home ice 4-1.

The Bulldogs have gotten off to a rough start. After winning their first two games of the year against Cowichan and Nanaimo, the Dogs dropped 6 straight before winning their last contest against the Surrey Eagles 5-3.

Statistically, these teams are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to offense. The Cents lead the league when it comes to filling the net with 35 goals for while the Bulldogs are 17th with 16 goals this season. The Dogs are also last in the league in terms of goal differential with -16. However, in terms of team defense the Bulldogs have allowed fewer goals than the Centennials with 33 compared to the Cents 35.

Brad Cocca remains the Cents lone representative in the top 5 in league scoring with 13 points, but teammates Mathieu Gosselin, Brendan Schneider, Matt Kopperud, and Nick Granowicz still crack the top 20 with 10 points a piece. Early in the season, the Cents only have 3 players that have been held off the score sheet: Mattias Dal Monte, Ben Ward, and newcomer Vincent Guy. However, the Cents would like to see some more contributions from the defense, who despite helping set up many Cents goals, have only cached in once off the stick of Talon Zakall.

The Bulldogs are led by second year forward Keaton Mastrodonato who has 5 points, and Ryan Miotto, who came over from Penticton in a trade for Andre Ghantous, with 4 points.

The special teams battle sees the Cents improving with the extra man now at 10th with 15.5% while the Bulldogs are struggling out of the gates with a BCHL 16th and 11.8%. However, on the penalty kill the Dogs are among the strongest in the league at 87.5% which is good enough for 3rd league-wide. The Cents sit in 15th when short a man at 75.5%

In net you can expect both goalies to see some action in the 3-in-3 weekend. Austin Roden has led the Cents to a 4-2 record when between the pipes and sports a 4.12 GAA and a .874 SV%. Vincent Duplessis is fresh off his first win of the year at 1-2 with a 3.17 GAA and a .888 SV%. The Bulldogs have a decent tandem in net as John Hawthorne has seen the majority of the starts and is 3-4 with a 3.51 GAA and a .903 SV%. Former Interior Division rival from West Kelowna Cole Demers is 0-2 with a 4.03 GAA and a .855 SV%.

Head Coach Joe Martin says that the Bulldogs can't be taken lightly just because of their record.

"They're a fast team, a structured team. If we keep playing like we have been we should end up on top, but we can't afford to underestimate them."

The Cents look to keep the ball rolling tonight with a win against the Bulldogs.

Puck Drop 7pm from the Dog Pound in Port Alberni. Pre-Game 6:45 on Q101.1FM or stream online at Q101.ca with Jared Thomas.

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The Centennials are back in the win column and find a measure of revenge against the Vernon Vipers as they even the season series 1-1 with a 5-2 win.

The first frame saw both teams skating well despite a depleted line up for the Vipers which saw them dress a lineup that was two short of a full compliment. The Centennials got an early powerplay opportunity and an early powerplay goal a night after they went 0/7. A shot from Matt Kopperud deflected off a defender and ended up on Nick Granowicz’s stick at the back door to put the Cents up 1 early. The Vipers were able to counter on their first powerplay opportunity as Jack Judson found the top corner from the blue line with a healthy screen in front.

The second period saw the whistle blown time after time in the Cents favour, but the Centennials couldn’t match their early success on the powerplay, and despite 4 opportunities with the extra man, couldn’t find the back of the net. The Vipers, however, would, and it was Teddy Wooding with the teams skating four-on-four who beat Vincent Duplessis on the third attempt after two huge saves by the Cents goalie. The Vipers would carry a 2-1 lead into the third.

After a sorry second, The Cents came out like a team possessed in the third and put themselves in the drivers seat early with a goal on the powerplay. Just under two minutes in Brad Cocca was able to wrist one far-side blocker on Aiden Porter to tie the game at 2. Within a minute, Daniel Tkac extended regained the lead with a beautiful individual effort. Cutting across the offensive blue line from right to left, he was given space by the Vipers D, and he walked in on the left side and roofed one blocker side on Porter to give the Cents the 3-2 lead. The Cents didn’t look back as Mathieu Gosselin added another on the powerplay, and Brendan Schneider iced the game with an empty netter to beat the Vipers 5-2.

The Cents had their best powerplay game of the season after a rocky start, and the offense continued to roll. The team will look to start up a streak as they head on an Island road swing next weekend with the first stop against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.

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