Merritt Centennials
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The Merritt Centennials (2-7) get set to duke it out against last years BCHL Finalist Vernon Vipers (3-6) tonight.

The Cents take to the road after not being able to capture a win at the BCHL Showcase, and the Vipers return home after not being able to do the same. The Cents had a good effort against former Head Coach Joe Martin and the Alberni Valley Bulldogs in game 1 of their Showcase in Chilliwack. Despite multiple chances around the goal, the Cents couldn't beat Luke Pearson and Brett Roloson's tally 4 minutes into the first period stood up as the Cents only offense in a 4-1 loss. The following day in Penticton the Cents skates seemed stuck in quicksand as the speedy Trail Smoke Eaters took advantage and after a tight 1st period that saw the Centennials trailing 2-0, the Smokies pulled away in the 2nd adding 4 more goals and chasing Tanner Marshall from the net. Ryan Winter came in for the relief effort, but it didn't spark the bench as the Smoke Eaters continued to roll scoring 7 unanswered before Josh Kagan broke the shutout with a few minutes remaining on a goaltender gamble. The Cents are looking to pick up the offense against a similarly offensively challenged Vernon Vipers squad tonight.

The Vipers come into the game 1-4 in their last 5 games played, and aren't impressed with their performance at the Showcase either where they lost both games without registering a goal. In fact the Vipers have been shut out in their last 3 games straight. Losing by scores of 1-0 to Penticton, 4-0 to West Kelowna, and most recently 3-0 to the Chilliwack Chiefs.

The Vipers represent the only team in the league that has found the back of the net fewer times than the Centennials with 14 goals for over the year compared to the Cents 18. However, the Cents have allowed 15 more goals than the Vipers and are a league worst -22 in goal differential. Both teams will be looking to end their offensive funks tonight.

Newly acquired forward Josh Kagan now leads the way offensively for the Centennials with 8 points after picking up a goal at the showcase, Daniel Tkac has 7 points, and Brett Roloson has 6.

The Vernon Vipers are led by Captain Connor Marritt and Cameron Macdonald up front while Ben Helgeson and 3 others have 3 points each.

The special teams battle sees the Vipers near the top of the table when it comes to the penalty kill, but at the bottom when it comes to the powerplay while the Cents are looking to improve on both counts.

Powerplay:                                   Penalty Kill:

Cents - 10% (16th)                  Cents - 72.9% (15th)

Vipers - 5% (17th)                    Vipers - 94.3% (2nd)

The battle in the blue paint sees the Cents looking to bounce back. Ryan Winter was steady in the showcase and is now 1-5 with a .906 SV% and a 3.87 GAA. Tanner Marshall has looked great in his lone win on the year, and hasn't gotten the support needed in his other two starts going 1-2 with an .855 SV% and a 4.83 GAA.

The Vipers have leaned on Max Palaga all season and he's 3-6 with a .903 SV%, a 2.65 GAA, and 1 shutout. Vernon has also just acquired Reily Herbst from the USHL. Last season he played for the Chicago Steel and was 12-7-2 with a 3.01 GAA and an .881 SV%.

Assistant Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter says the Cents just need to continue getting better.

"Every day in practice we get closer to being the team we want to be. We'll look to be better against the Vipers."

The Cents will look to continue the Vipers losing streak.

Puck Drop 7pm from Kal Tire Place in Vernon on Q101 and Hockey TV with Jared Thomas.

 

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The Merritt Centennials were in the game after 20 minutes, but the wheels fell off in the 2nd period in an eventual 7-1 loss to the Trail Smoke Eaters.

The first frame saw the Smoke Eaters score on their first powerplay on a lucky one. A shot from the point bounced off a couple defenders in front and up and over Tanner Marshall for the games first goal. Owen Ozar scored on a wraparound try 15 minutes into the first to make it 2-0. Shots after 1 were 15-9 in favour of the Smokies.

The Centennials wanted to come out of the gate strong in the 2nd period to work themselves back into the game, but it was the Smoke Eaters that came out hot. Jaden Senkoe scored 38 seconds ino the frame to get the ball rolling for Trail and by the 10 minute mark of the period the Cents were behind 6-0. Michael Colella scored two goals then set up the third to get the game out of reach for the Cents. Tanner Marshall was pulled after allowing 5 goals on 20 shots, and Ryan Winter came in for relief. Shots after 2 periods were 27-24 in favour of Trail.

In the final period the Cents found themselves in penalty trouble that kept them out of the offensive zone after back to back penalties. The Smoke Eaters would add one more in the third from Colby Elmer, before Josh Kagan broke the goose egg. He beat his man at the blue line and then the Trail goaltender, Logan Turness came out with the diving poke check. The gamble didn't pay off and Kagan deked around him and shot into the empty cage. Final shots were 35-31 Trail.

After the game, Assistant Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter said the Cents just didn't have the legs in this one.

"When we came out in the first it seemed like we were skating in quicksand, and we just couldn't recover. I think the new guys are still learning what it takes to be ready for every game at this level."

The Cents will look to be ready for their games next weekend against the Vernon Vipers on Friday, and back at home at the NVMA on Saturday.

The Cents hope to see you at the Super Shine Car Wash from 10am -2pm on Voght Street tomorrow. Bring the car in for a wash, grab a hot dog, and meet the Centennials.

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The Merritt Centennials (2-6) get set to take on the team that bounced them from the playoffs last season the Trail Smoke Eaters (3-5-1-0).

The Centennials are coming off a 4-1 defeat in game one of their showcase against former Head Coach Joe Martin and the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. Brett Roloson tied the game almost 4 minutes into the first, but that would be the only offense the Centennials could supply. Ryan Winter played well in his return to the crease after Tanner Marshall took the reigns for last week's contests. The Bulldogs ended up scoring 3 unanswered, one from former Cent Jackson Munro and an empty netter from Mitch Deelstra to top Merritt in their first chance to impress over 80 NCAA scouts and a good representation from the NHL as well. A number of the Cents still had conversations after the losing effort, but will be looking for a better result this afternoon.

The Trail Smoke Eaters first 3 wins of the season have come in their last 3 games as they are starting to turn the corner after a rough start. They've won 3-0 over the Prince George Spruce Kings in Prince George, 6-2 over the Victoria Grizzlies, and 5-1 over the West Kelowna Warriors. They'll look to stay on the winning path with the Centennials standing in their way.

The Cents are still led by Daniel Tkac and Josh Kagan up front with 7 points, but Brett Roloson is now the hot hand with 6 points.

The Smoke Eaters are led by talented youngster Kent Johnson who has 12 points which is good enough for 14th in the BCHL. Michael Collela has 10 points and Owen Ozar has put up 8.

The special teams battle sees the Cents looking to improve their powerplay as they've been snake bitten for 3 games in a row. The Smoke Eaters are holding steady in the middle of the pack.

Powerplay:                                Penalty Kill:

Trail - 15.4% (11th)              Trail - 84.6% (6th)

Cents - 11% (16th)               Cents - 72.7% (14th)

Tanner Marshall will get a chance to prove himself against his former BCHL club. He's coming off an OT victory and he's 1-1 with an .889 SV% and a 3.43 GAA. Should he falter Winter is 1-5 with a .908 SV% and a 3.90 GAA.

Donavan Buskey is 2-4 so far this season with an .875 SV%, a 3.31 GAA and 1 shutout. Logan Terness is the newcomer with a 1-2 record, a .933 SV% and a 2.48 GAA.

The Centennials look to right the ship this afternoon against the Smoke Eaters, and make Trail's chances of putting together 4 wins in a row go up in smoke.

Puck Drop 4pm. Pre-Game 3:45 on Q101 and Hockey TV with Jared Thomas.

A reminder to sign up for the Centennials weekly online 50/50 here: https://centsweekly5050.thelottofactory.com/

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The Merritt Centennials answered the bell early, but couldn't mount the comeback late as they fell to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 4-1.

Early on the Cents had trouble escaping their own zone, and they eventually paid the price. Tim Gould scored by a seeing eye shot from the blueline that found its way past Ryan Winter. The early goal seemed to snap the Cents into game mode as Brett Roloson came flying down the left wing and sniped a shot top corner and popped the water bottle on Pearson to tie the game at 1-1.  The offensive chances continued on both sides with a couple powerplays apiece, but the offense dried up for the remainder of the period. Shots after one were 13-10 in favour of the Cents.

The second period saw both teams skate pretty evenly through the first 10 minutes and change. However, it would be the Bulldogs who would find the net first. On a rush Tommy Bannister received a centering feed and deked out Winter to make it 2-1. Then with the Centennials shorthanded it was former defender Jackson Munro who tallied for Alberni on the powerplay after walking in from the left point to make it 3-1. The Cents pressured to get the ball rolling before the period was out, but were unable to beat Pearson. Shots after 2 were 29-24 Cents.

The final frame saw the Centennials try to mount the comeback, but the Bulldogs didn't give them much time in their zone. The Cents only mounted 5 shots on the Alberni net, and midway through the period they had to kill off a 5-on-3. The penalty kill was improved killing off 6/7, but a late empty netter was awarded to Mitch Deelstra after Olson Werenka was ruled to have thrown the stick. Final shots were 42-34. Final score was 4-1.

The Cents will hit the reset button tomorrow afternoon as they look to pick up important points against Interior Division rival Trail Smoke Eaters from Penticton at 4pm.

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The 6th in the Interior Division Merritt Centennials (2-5) clash with former Head Coach Joe Martin and the 5th in the Island Division Alberni Valley Bulldogs (3-7) this afternoon.

The Centennials are coming off another 1-1 weekend where they finished on a winning note heading into the week of practice. Last Wednesday the Centennials weren't able to turn a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes into a victory against the Coquitlam Express after some penalty trouble let one of the leagues best powerplays back into the game. The Cents got some offense from Daniel Tkac, Matt Osadick, and Payton Matsui en route to a 6-3 loss. However, the Cents rebounded well heading into the weekend. Despite working on some offensive drills in practice heading into Saturdays game against the Wenatchee Wild, it was the defense and goaltending that came to play on both sides. Tanner Marshall picked up his first win between the pipes as a Cent and was instrumental in keeping the team in the game with big save after big save. After the Wild opened the scoring late in the first, Spencer Schneider scored his first in the BCHL early in the second on a wrap around attempt to tie the game at 1. The game would go all the way to extra time waiting for the game winner, and it was supplied by Brett Roloson and Joey Berkopec. Roloson slowed play down by circling back to his own zone, then cut across neutral ice from right to left, as he gained the offensive blue line he noticed a hard charging Berkopec going to the net with his stick on the ice and saucered in a perfect pass on the tape that Berkopec shovelled up and over Chenard for the thrilling OT victory.

The Alberni Valley Bulldogs played last night against the Showcase hosting Chilliwack Chiefs and fell by a score of 5-2. The Bulldogs had their first big road trip of the season last weekend and went 0-3. Losing 8-2 to Prince George, 5-2 to Chilliwack, and 4-2 to Coquitlam. Despite the lopsided losses the Bulldogs have scored 12 more goals than the Merritt Centennials albeit with 3 more games played and have two players that are in the BCHL's top 20 in scoring. Much like the Centennials, Joe Martin and the Bulldogs are tinkering and rebuilding their roster in year one of a new coaching regime and it takes time to get everything moving smoothly.

Last season the Cents swept the series 2-0, but both games were decided by a goal. The Cents won 4-3 in Alberni and 5-4 at home in Merritt.

Daniel Tkac had his point streak come to an end against the Wenatchee Wild, but in the month of September led the team in scoring with 7 points in 6 games. Newcomer Josh Kagan comes in with 7 points earned in his 7 games played with the Cowichan Valley Capitals and looked impressive in his first look against the Wild. Brett Roloson and Payton Matsui are both starting to heat up with 5 points a piece.

The Bulldogs boast two goal scorers in the BCHL's top 20 in Mitch Deelstra and Ryan Doolin. Deelstra has tallied the most times in the BCHL with 8 goals, while Doolin has been setting him up. Former Cents Jackson Munro has 7 points.

The Special teams battle sees the Cents looking to improve, while the Bulldogs are quite respectable in both categories.

Powerplay:                                 Penalty Kill:

Bulldogs - 20% (5th)            Bulldogs - 81% (11th)

Cents - 12.9% (16th)          Cents - 70.3% (17th)

The battle in the blue paint will pose a difficult question for the Cents. Tanner Marshall played sensational in both his games this season, and Ryan Winter is waiting in the wings for a chance to prove himself once more. Marshall is 1-1 with an .889 SV% and a 3.43 GAA. Winter is 1-4 with a .905 SV% and a 4.08 GAA.

The Bulldogs have split the goaltending duties pretty evenly between their two netminders. Former Cents AP Jackson Glassford is 2-2 with an .898 SV% and a 3.83 GAA. Luke Pearson has gotten into a few more games, but hasn't fared any better at 1-5 with an .889 SV% and a 3.93 GAA.

Assistant Coach Derek Sweet Coulter says the team really started to come together after their last win.

"If we can keep the positive attitude on the bench going and have the guys supporting each other out there I like our chances."

The Cents will hope to come together to string their first two wins together of the season.

Puck Drop 4:30pm from Rink 2 at the Chilliwack Colliseum. Pre-Game 4:15 on Q101.1FM and streamed at www.q101.ca ONLY.

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