The Merritt Centennials impressed in the first period of their season opener, but faltered as the game went on especially in respects to special teams and the Salmon Arm Silverbacks were able to come back and pull out a win 4-2.
The Centennials accomplished one of their game goals, coming out strong in the first ten minutes, and were rewarded early with the first goal of the season and the game going to Rylan Van Unen after a Nick Wicks faceoff win. Van Unen was able to rip a wrister top shelf blocker-side on rookie netminder Ethan Langenegger to open the scoring 3:15 into the first. Former affiliate player, Frazer Dodd, widened the margin for the Centennials halfway through the frame, on a beautiful give and go play with Matt Kopperud in which Kopperud baited Langenegger across the crease before finding Dodd who had a wide open net to bury the puck in. Despite the 2-0 lead the Cents and Silverbacks took a combined 5 penalties in the first, a sign of things to come.
The middle frame saw the Centennials caught on their heels to start, and even though the Centennials and Silverbacks matched penalties with 3 a piece, the Cents couldn’t match the scoring output on the powerplay. The Silverbacks converted on two powerplay opportunities in the 2nd with goals from Akito Hirose and Matthew Verboon before adding another on the rush at even strength from Justin Wilson to score 3 unanswered. That was the end of the night for starter Vincent Duplessis who stopped 20 of 23 shots up to that point, but with the Cents looking for a way to swing momentum in their favour getting Austin Roden into the game proved to be the tonic. The Cents were able to stem the tide, and push back getting a lengthy two-man advantage, and what was possibly an unseen on the ice in-and-out goal from Joey Berkopec. That would be the best chance of the period, including a few posts, but the Centennials couldn’t ripple the mesh.
The third period was a bit more back and forth with both teams aiming to be a little more disciplined and succeeding. However, on the lone Merritt penalty of the period Salmon Arm was able to capitalize once more to make it 4-2 on a Hudson Schandor third whack at a rebound. Despite pulling the goalie in the dying seconds the Cents couldn’t find life and would fall by a 4-2 final score.
They will have to get their affairs in order quickly, and review the tape in regards to special teams to make sure their ready for the Home Opener on Saturday night against the Vernon Vipers.
Cheer on the boys at the NVMA tomorrow night at the Murray GM Home Opener, giveaways at the door, and during the first intermission with a chance to battle for a free oil change in the second intermission as the Cents search for their first win of the season.
Puck drop 7pm, Pre-Game at 6:45 on the air at Q101.1FM or stream online at Q101.ca with Jared Thomas.
The Merritt Centennials get set to open the season tonight against a division rival - the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
Last year the Centennials finished 6th in the Interior Division, leap frogging the Backs in the final week of the season, with a 24-27-5 record. The season series between the two teams saw the Centennials with a 4-2 edge. They series swung in the Cents favour by taking all games on home ice, plus a double OT thriller in Salmon Arm. Offense was never an issue as the teams combined for 46 goals over their rivalry last year, but goaltending is something Salmon Arm has addressed in the offseason.
There will be many familiar faces on the Centennials in all positions as it's one of the strongest returning rosters in Head Coach and General Manager Joe Martin's tenure. 14 players will return that saw time last year, 15 if you include affiliate player Frazer Dodd.
The net will be a position of strength for the Centennials as they believe they have one of the best tandems in the league. Austin Roden returns after a spectacular year in the crease for the Cents going 12-11-0-3 with a save percentage that was tied for best in the league at .931, and a goals against average that was 5th best in the league at 2.40. Vincent Duplessis comes back after an injury plagued rookie season. He only saw action in 2 games, 1 in which he suffered a season ending injury, but impressed enough for the Cents to carry him all year on the roster, and now it's time for him to prove the Cents right and he has looked great in preseason.
On defense the Centennials will enjoy nearly a full starting 6 coming back. Mike Van Unen, Joey Berkopec, Colten Gerlib, Jackson Munro, and Mattias Dal Monte will all be back, and have all improved immensely in the offseason and come in with something to prove this year. Dal Monte suffered an injury in preseason and will be out for the next couple weeks, but there's plenty of talent to fill the void in the meantime. A Merritt local will don a Centennials jersey for the first time in 5 years, as Talon Zakall has made the club out of camp, Jaydon Fetter comes over from the GOJHL, and Brady Ziemer who was signed yesterday will provide some grit from his time as Captain in the US High School League.
Up front the Cents will have a number of offensive weapons to lean on, while the newcomers get accustomed to the speed of the league. Nick Wicks leads the returning group in offensive output as he put up 42 points last year, but he will get plenty of help from Mathieu Gosselin, Brendan Schneider, Brad Cocca, Rylan Van Unen, Matt Kopperud, and Christian Sabin. There's plenty of incoming talent with the additions of Nic Granowicz, Daniel Tkac, Brett Roloson, Ben Ward, and former affiliate Frazer Dodd.
The preseason wasn't terribly kind to either club in tonight's matchup. The Cents went 1-2-1-0, the lone win coming in extra time against the Prince George Spruce Kings, the rest hard fought one goal games, including an overtime loss in the preseason finale to Prince George. The Silverbacks didn't fare much better going 1-1-1-1, including a shootout win.
The Cents and Silverbacks both look to start the season on the right foot, but due to the new BCHL overtime rules, there's no longer room for a tie so only one team will go home happy.
Puck Drop 7pm, Pre-Game 6:45 with Play by Play Broadcaster Jared Thomas on HockeyTV, on the dial in Merritt at Q101.1FM, or audio only at Q101.ca
The Merritt Centennials announced the signing of 2000 born right shot defenseman Brady Ziemer today.
The Carver, Minnesota native joins the Centennials by way of the Holy Family Catholic Fire in the United States High School League where he served as Captain and tallied 7 goals and 21 assists for 28 points in 25 games played.
Ziemer has also earned a commitment to the St. Cloud State University Huskies for the 2019-20 season.
Head Coach and General Manager Joe Martin says that he feels Ziemer will make life difficult on the opponent.
"He's a right handed defenseman, he plays a hard nose style. He's a medium sized defenseman but has a low centre of gravity, likes to play physical, and should help us against some of the better players in the league."
Martin adds that Ziemer should get some game time this weekend as the Centennials open the season against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, before coming home to take on the Vernon Vipers.
Both games will be available with Play by Play Broadcaster Jared Thomas on the dial at 101.1FM or online at Q101.ca.
The Merritt Centennials traded chances with the Prince George Spruce Kings all night, but in the end were a little unlucky, and got a taste of their own medicine as Prince George came back to win it in overtime 4-3.
The first period echoed the first exhibition game against the Vernon Vipers, exceptional goaltending, exceptional chances but no goals as both netminders,Austin Roden for the Cents and Bradley Cooper for the Spruce Kings, stood tall in the first stopping 11 shots a piece. Penalties were a plenty in this contest and the first set the tone: three minors for the Cents and four for the Spruce Kings.
The middle frame followed suit and got a little unruly with both teams trading 5 penalties a side over the course of 20 minutes. Despite the multitude of penalties, not many goals goals were scored on the powerplay in the frame, however, there were goals scored. The first of the game came off the stick of Craig Cunningham who found a rebound off a Keranen point shot and put it past Roden. The Spruce Kings widened their lead on the powerplay, with Nic Granowicz in the box for roughing it didn't take long for the Spruce Kings to find the back of the net after Liam Watson-Brawn unleashed a point shot that was deflected by Patrick Cozzi and in. The Centennials answered on a beautiful play off the rush with Brad Cocca streaking down the left wing, and dropping a pass for a wide open Colten Gerlib who had time to pick his spot and snipe it blocker-side over Cooper. Gosselin drew the secondary assist on that goal. The Cents were pressing and appeared to have a powerplay set to carry over to the 3rd, but more undisciplined play resulted in a Matt Kopperud double-minor for roughing, and the third would start 4-on-4.
The 3rd saw the Cents come out with jump, and they jumped out to a tie, courtesy Nick Wicks who got a free pass towards the net after defender Layton Ahac lost his stick. Wicks was able to beat Cooper short-side, glove-side to tie the game at 2. The Cents finally converted on the powerplay when Mathieu Gosselin, who looked untouchable with the man-advantage, finally converted a wrister top corner to give the Centennials their first lead of the game at 3-2. The Cents were set to take the lead into the homestretch when a stroke of bad luck struck, an Ahac shot bounced off the end boards, and off the backside of Roden and into the net to tie the game at 3.
In overtime, the Spruce Kings had a brief powerplay, but were unable to convert. As a result, the Cents and Spruce Kings skated 4 on 4 for a part of OT, but when the game reverted to the new 3-on-3 rules Chong Min Lee of the Spruce Kings was able to break free, and collect his own rebound for the winning goal to make it a 4-3 final.
During the course of the game, Mattias Dal Monte went off with an injury and didn't return. His prognosis is uncertain for next weeks season opener against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
Despite the loss in overtime, Head Coach and GM Joe Martin cited discipline and the lack thereof as the biggest culprit in the game.
"I think the biggest we have to work on is staying away from the undisciplined calls. It's one thing when calls are being made for plays on the ice, but the extra shots, and the slashes, the stuff within our control has to be addressed for us to succeed as a team."
The Cents will have a week off to enjoy to get out into the community and come together as a team. They will be volunteering at the Rodeo over the weekend, and following that up with a rafting trip to Adams River to bond as a group.
The next game opens the regular season, Friday Sept. 7 against Salmon Arm in Salmon Arm before the Cents have their home opener against the Vernon Vipers.
The Centennials have a chance to wrap their preseason schedule with an even 2-2 record if they can pull out a win against the Prince George Spruce Kings tonight.
The two teams met on Wednesday up north in PG, and the game needed extra time to decide a winner. Vincent Duplessis was solid in his first full start of the preseason, stopping 34 of 36 shots, and kept the Cents in the game when they were being outplayed early. Layton Ahac scored in the final minute of the first frame on the powerplay to give the Spruce Kings the 1-0 lead.
In the second, Christian Sabin evened things up as him and Matt Kopperud crashed the net and tag teamed it home.
The final period saw the game become a little more lively, the Spruce Kings got themselves an early goal courtesy hometown product Corey Cunningham, but Nic Granowicz would tie things up halfway through the period when he picked a defenseman's pocket skated in alone, and sniped one down low to tie things back up at 2. Towards the end of the game, with things getting chippy, the Spruce Kings were assessed a boarding penalty with 11 seconds remaining.
In the extra frame, the Centennials controlled right off the opening face off and didn't look back as Matt Kopperud was finally able to convert a Mathieu Gosselin saucer pass into the back of the net to give the Cents their first victory of the preseason.
Tonight, the Centennials lineup will remain pretty well unchanged. Chemistry is starting to build amongst the established lines, and Head Coach Joe Martin wants to see that chemistry grow instead of changing things up too early. The Cents will still be without the services of Daniel Tkac, who was injured in the final intrasquad game, and a defenseman will see some time at forward, or cycling through as a 7th d-man. Colten Gerlib filled that role on Wednesday, and it will fall to another defender to seize that opportunity tonight.
Austin Roden will likely make his first full start of the preseason, and has been exceptional so far allowing only one goal over two half-games against the Vernon Vipers.
One thing the Cents will have to keep an eye on is their discipline, on Wednesday night they spent a fair amount of time in the box in the second period, and are best when they can keep their four lines rolling.
Come on down to the NVMA tonight by 7pm to see the Cents wrap their preseason schedule against the Spruce Kings. Admission is $5 at the door, and season ticket holders get in free.