Merritt Centennials
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The Merritt Centennials have completed a trade with the Nipawin Hawks of the SJHL.

The Cents have sent defenseman Colten Gerlib to the Hawks in exchange for future considerations. Colten Gerlib tallied 12 points in 44 games last season, and was held off the score sheet in 2 contests this year. Gerlib was acquired by the Centennials last season before the BCHL Showcase, and has spent time with the Surrey Eagles and Tri-City Americans of the WHL in his junior career.

The Centennials continue the regular season without Gerlib on Friday night against the Penticton Vees. 

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The Merritt Centennials couldn't convert with regularity on the powerplay and fell to the Langley Rivermen 4-2. 

The first period started with a couple chances with the extra man for the Rivermen, and they converted on their second attempt with Mattias Dal Monte in the box for hooking. Ethan Leyh was able to beat Vincent Duplessis down low for the first goal of the game, and the Rivermen would add another just over 30 seconds later when Trevor Ayre converted a centering feed. The Cents then got 4 opportunities with the extra man, but couldn't convert any chances across the goal line. A big part of that was the play of Braedon Fleming in net who stopped 12 in the first to Duplessis' 6. 

The Cents wouldn't find the score sheet until late in the second period where they converted their lone powerplay marker of the night. Nic Granowicz powered in solo on the right side, dipped below the goal line, then shot out front of the net and made a move backhand to beat Fleming over the blocker-side. Christian Sabin then evened the score at 2 when he poked the puck across the goal line in a crazy scramble in front. After 2, the teams were tied at 2. 

Heading into the third the penalty pendulum started to swing back and forth, Langley went off, then Merritt, then Langley again. Ultimately, the go-ahead goal came 4-on-4 when Carter Stephenson skated from the defensive end to the right circle uncontested then dropped a pass for Ethan Leyh who ripped one top corner over the blocker of Duplessis to make it 3-2. The Cents were looking for the equalizer late with Leduc in the box for Langley, but despite having the goalie pulled to make it a two man advantage the Cents were outworked by Tanner Versluis who scored an empty net short handed goal to ice the game 4-2. 

In the end, the Centennials went 1/10 on the powerplay while the Rivermen went 1/8. Duplessis made 25 saves on 28 shots, and the Cents fell for the first time in 5 games to see their win streak halted at 4. 

The post-game was so busy with chats with scouts that coaches were unavailable for comment. 

Next game will be a home contest against the Penticton Vees on Sept. 28th at 7pm. It's Humboldt Night, and the Cents will be honoring the Humboldt Broncos by raising a banner, and paying tribute to Nicola Valley first responders. 

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The Merritt Centennials and Langley Rivermen meet for the first time this season tonight, and for the second year in a row that first meeting will happen at the BCHL Showcase.

Last season it was the Rivermen who edged the Cents in the first game of the showcase winning 4-3, but the Centennials got revenge later on in the season at home with a 4-1 win. The Cents closed their season out against Langley last season, but the game was a bit of a wash as the Cents had a billet house burn down, were without the services of their Captain Tyrell Buckley, and had already secured the top possible playoff berth.

Needless to say today's afternoon match up will have different undertones than last years clash at the Showcase. The Cents are 4-2 to start the year where last year they came in to the Showcase sporting a 0-4 record, and the Rivermen added to their woes. The Cents have one of the healthiest crop of returning players in the BCHL with 14, comparatively the Rivermen have 11 players who wil suit up once again. The Cents boast the leagues top offense, where last season they were struggling to score goals. The Rivermen are in the middle of the pack in regards to offense, but defensively have better numbers than the Cents and sit 3rd in the league with only 12 goals allowed. However, the Cents just pulled off their most impressive defensive effort of the season holding the Victoria Grizzlies to a late goal and protecting a lead for 55 minutes of the game.

The Cents roll into this one with momentum on their side. Winners of four straight, the Cents aim to keep the streak alive against a Rivermen squad that has been up and down to start the season. After winning their opener against the Penticton Vees and following that up with another win against Coquitlam, the Rivermen dropped two to the Chilliwack Chiefs before getting back in the win column in their first game of the Showcase against Trail. The Rivermen are led by young returnee Ethan Leyh, who has 4 points, but have a pretty balanced attack as rookies Mark Gallant and Chase Pletzke are tied with many others with 3 points a piece.

The Cents sit atop the Interior Division in the early season, and look to their improved defensive play to help them stay there. In their last game against the Grizzlies, the Cents were able to shut down phenom Alex Newhook, and stymie the Victoria offense through 59 minutes of the game. However, they still had enough offense from Matt Kopperud on the powerplay, and Nic Granowicz finishing a great passing play with line mates Nick Wicks and Rylan Van Unen in the first. Brad Cocca picked up another point to continue to be in the running for the league lead in points, but now trails Lucas Sowder of the Wild by one with 9, Mathieu Gosselin and Matt Kopperud are two off the pace with 8 points.

The Rivermen have the edge in the special teams battle and are 7th on the powerplay with a 22.2% conversion rate, and 9th on the penalty kill with a 80% kill rate. The Cents are steadily improving in both categories and are now 11th with the man advantage with 14.7% and 14th on the PK with 76.9%

In net, the Centennials will turn to Vincent Duplessis for the first time since the season opener. He is 0-1 with a .875 SV% and a 5.98GAA. The Rivermen have seen both their net minders get into action. Braedon Fleming is 3-1 with a .931 SV% and a 1.75 GAA and 1 shutout. Alex Rolfe is 0-1 with a .911 SV% and a 4.00GAA.

Head Coach and General Manager Joe Martin says that the team needs to keep trusting the process.

"The leadership group is doing a great job of keeping the guys focused on the day to day, keeping things light, and staying in the moment."

The Cents will hope for another victory moment following the game this afternoon and continue their hot streak.

Puck Drop 4:30, Pre-Game 4:15 on Q101.1FM and from rink 2 at the Prospera Centre with Jared Thomas.

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The Merritt Centennials found their offense early, and then survived a late push by the Victoria Grizzlies to hang on to a 2-1 win for their 4th in a row. 

The Centennials used the strength of their powerplay early on in the game to capture the lead. At 5:15 Matt Kopperud creeped in from the half-wall looked for a hole and found one down low past the far toe of Kurtis Chapman for the first goal of he game. Assists went to Jayden Fetter and Brad Cocca. The top line provided what is the highlight of the early season so far when Nic Granowicz was sprung on a partial break, but as he was getting caught on the back check, dropped a pass to Nick Wicks who fed it across to Rylan Van Unen, who then returned the feed in front to Granowicz, who put the puck in the open net to complete the passing play giving the Cents a two goal lead that they'd carry into the first intermission. 

Neither team found the back of the net in the second period, but they traded chances on the powerplay. However, whenever the Grizzlies found themselves on the powerplay they took themselves off the man advantage with a penalty of their own. After 2, Austin Roden had stopped all 16 shots he faced. 

Heading into the third the Centennials continued to have their chances. Mathieu Gosselin came as close to a goal as you could come as he rung it off the inside off the crossbar down and out. The Grizzlies made a push late and were rewarded with the net empty late, after Riley Hughes deflected a point shot from Carter Berger to make things interesting in the final minute of play. The Centennials closed the door from then on and hung on to win 2-1 for their fourth victory in a row. 

After the game Head Coach Joe Martin applauded the play of Austin Roden and his players. 

"I think we saw Roden turn in his best performance of the year, and the rookies: Roloson, Ward, and Tkac even though they didn't play much provide that valuable breathing room for our more experienced players when their facing down some of the tougher matchups. Overall, I thought it was a gutsy defensive performance."

The Cents and fans will enjoy having their name at the top of the Interior Division Standings before they look for a 5th win in a row against the Langley Rivermen on Saturday for an afternoon game.  

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The Merritt Centennials and Victoria Grizzlies lock horns for the first time this season as they'll do battle at the BCHL Showcase. 

A reminder for eager fans that despite being a 'home' game, the action will take place at the Prospera Centre in Chilliwack at 7pm.

The Cents and Grizzlies are rare opponents as they only see each other twice during the regular season, but last season the edge went to the Centennials. In game one of the season series in Victoria, the Centennials were able to explode in the first period for a 4-0 lead, and didn't look back from there as they ended up taking home one of their most lopsided wins of the season 6-0. The game was a coming out party for Matt Kopperud as he had his first BCHL goal, and first BCHL Gordie Howe Hat trick, registering a goal, an assist, and a fight. When the season series resumed in mid-February, the teams skated to a rare 2-2 tie. However, in both games last season the Centennials avoided facing Grizzlies phenom forward from St. John's, Newfoundland, Alex Newhook. In game one of the season series, Newhook was away at the World Junior A Challenge with Head Coach Joe Martin, and late in the season Newhook suffered an arm injury that kept him out of action. The Cents will have no such luck tonight, as Newhook is healthy and looking to impress the number of college and NHL scouts that will be in attendance. In recent draft rankings, Newhook is slated to go in the early to mid-first round of the NHL draft. Fellow teammate Riley Hughes is also a draft pick of the New York Rangers. 

The Centennials come into the Showcase with plenty of momentum on their side and the reigning BCHL Player of the Week in the lineup, as Mathieu Gosselin and the Cents exploded for 19 goals over 3 games in last weeks action. The Cents won a 7-6 nail biter over the Surrey Eagles, a sound 7-5 victory over the Wenatchee Wild, and a resounding 5-2 win over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. The Cents second line, which Gosselin centres, figured prominently in each victory as Gosselin and linemates Bradley Cocca and Brendan Schneider combined for 23 points over the 3 contests. Coming into the Showcase, the Centennials have 5 players featured in the top 10 in BCHL scoring with Gosselin and Cocca tied for first with 8 points, Schneider and Kopperud tied for second with 7 points, and Nick Wicks tied for 9th with 6 points. Despite the scoring punch, the Centennials have also started to have their defensive game round into form as the leagues highest scoring offense looks to shut the door with more frequency. 

The Grizzlies have started the season 2-1. They lost their season opener 5-3 to the Powell River Kings, thumped the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 5-1, and then edged the Penticton Vees 4-3 in their home opener. Alex Campbell and Alex Newhook are tied for the team lead in points with 4, followed by Riley Hughes and Marty Westhaver with 3. The Grizzlies also had the benefit of a strong returning crop of players as they enjoy 11 returnees, and hope for a season that sees them advance farther than the Island Division Finals where they lost in 5 games to Powell River. 

The special teams battle sees the Grizzlies with the edge. On the powerplay they sit 9th in the league with a 18.8% conversion rate with the Cents have improved to 13th with 13.3%. On the penalty kill the Grizzlies sit at 10th in the league with an 81.3% kill rate while the Cents are 14th with 74.3%

In net the Centennials will look for another strong performance as Austin Roden has rallied off 3 wins in a row and now sits at 3-1, but would like to see his underlying numbers improve as he sports a .868 SV% and a 4.22 GAA. However, in the last game against Salmon Arm after a shaky opening goal, Roden looked to return to the form Cents fans grew accustomed to last season and looked a lot more confident and comfortable in net. Vincent Duplessis should see some time at the Showcase as well, but hasn't seen time in the crease since the opening game of the year and sits at 0-1 with a .875 SV% and a 5.98 GAA. The Grizzlies have relied on goaltender Kurtis Chapman this year as they wait for Zachary Rose to recover from injury. Chapman is 2-1 with a .924 SV% and a 2.67 GAA.  

This is has been voted the most anticipated matchup of the BCHL Bauer Showcase, and the Centennials hope they can live up to the hype, impress the scouts, but most importantly the hometown faithful who will be watching and listening for a 4th Cents win in a row. 

Puck drop from the Prospera Centre in Chilliwack 7pm. Pre-Game on Q101.1FM and at 6:45 with Jared Thomas. 

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