Merritt Centennials
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The Merritt Centennials (10-33-1-3) head down to the Fraser Valley to take on the Chilliwack Chiefs (23-14-5-4) tonight.

The Merritt Centennials are still looking to right the ship in January before it's gone and they look to do it against another tough test in the Chilliwack Chiefs. The Cents are coming off a weekend where they weren't able to put a full 60 minute effort together. On Friday against the Vees, they took the first period off and found themselves down 4-0 after 20 minutes. Despite skating with the Vees the rest of the way, they suffered a 6-2 defeat with Payton Matsui providing the special teams punch with a goal on the powerplay and shorthanded. The following night at home against the Eagles, the Cents were in it again for 40, trailing only 1-0 after 1 and 4-2 with momentum on their side after 2, they couldn't find a goal in the third period to give them the momentum needed for the comeback and the Eagles picked up a few goals on the powerplay to ensure victory going 4/7 and winning 7-2. The Cents will need to be disciplined tonight as they go up against the league's best powerplay.

Chilliwack is trending in the right direction in January as they are 6-2, and 4-1 in their last 5. They survived a barn burner against the Prince George Spruce Kings last time out. The Chiefs started the game trailing 2-0, but were able to score 4 unanswered goals to get back on track. PG would answer in the 2nd, but the Chiefs would add two more before they hung on for the win 6-5. Their latest set back came against the Coquitlam Express 4-3, but before that rallied 3 in a row against Langley 3-2, Coquitlam 4-3, and the Express once more 6-1. The Chiefs seem to be able to adapt their game to their opponent, and can score in bunches.

Payton Matsui has slowly climbed his way to the Centennials scoring lead with 31 points, moving him into a tie with Christian Buono. Daniel Tkac has 25 points while Thomas Manty leads rookies with 23 on the team.

The Chiefs have one top 20 scorer on their roster with Minnesota Wild draft pick Nikita Nesterenko at 44 points, Peter Reynolds has 37, and Brett Willits has chipped in 31.

The special teams battle sees the Cents going up the league's best powerplay.

Powerplay:                           Penalty Kill:

Cents - 11.2% (17th)      Cents - 73% (17th)

Chiefs - 28.1% (1st)        Chiefs - 81.3% (9th)

The battle in the blue paint sees both Cents starters suffering during this losing drought. Ryan Winter is 3-15-1 with a .895 SV%, a 4.19 GAA and 1 shutout. Tanner Marshall is 6-17 with an .880 SV% and a 4.91 GAA.

The Chiefs lean on Mathieu Caron to be the guy. He's 16-8-5 with a .910 SV%, a 2.64 GAA, and 2 shutouts. Kolby Thornton is 7-5 with a .895 SV% and a 3.01 GAA.

Cents Assistant Coach Zach Wright says the team needs to pick it up for that final playoff spot.

"We know we aren't out of it yet, but we know we need to start picking up wins. We need to go out, put everything together and get one."

The Cents will look to pick up their first win of 2020.

Puck drop 7pm. Pre-game 6:45 on Q101 and HockeyTV with Jared Thomas.

 

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The Merritt Centennials were on the wrong end of the special teams battle, and the Eagles were red hot with the extra man going 4/7 to win by a score of 7-2 on Saturday night.

The Eagles and Cents traded chances in the first period, and an off-speed knuckle puck was the difference maker off a scrambled faceoff for the Eagles as Ramsay was able to score to give Surrey the 1-0 lead. That's how it would stay after 1. Shots were 11-5 in favour of Surrey.

In the 2nd, the powerplay started to go to work for the Eagles. Tellier and Schlaht used the extra man to quickly extend the lead to 3-0 just 3 and a half minutes into the period. The Eagles got another even strength goal from Ramsay before Ben Ward was able to answer on the powerplay. Taking the puck off the draw, he was able to fight it to the net and take a couple whacks to get it across the line and break the goose egg for the Cents. Jerzy Orchard was able to wire one after it was put on a tee by Payton Matsui to bring the Cents within 2 after 2. Shots were 25-21 Eagles at that point.

Despite pressing early on in the third the Cents couldn't beat Reece Klassen and eventually took a penalty that proved costly. At the 9:10 mark Schovanek added another on the PP for the Eagles, Kenny Riddett then scored against the grain on a breakaway, and Alami added a late powerplay marker to make it 7-2 the final. The Surrey Eagles find themselves clinching a playoff spot, while the Cents find themselves on the outside looking in, trailing West Kelowna by 9 points now for the final spot. Final shots 37-30 Surrey.

After the game, Assistant Coach Zach Wright said the Cents young D got caught a bit.

"We over extended a bit on the PK, and a skilled team like Surrey is going to make you pay."

The Cents now look to right the ship on the road against the Chilliwack Chiefs on Wednesday.

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The Merritt Centennials (10-32-1-3) face off against Mainland division foe, the Surrey Eagles (20-20-3-4) tonight.

The Cents are coming off a game where they skated with the Penticton Vees through the final 40 minutes, but 4 unanswered in the first from the Vees helped them to a 6-2 win.The Vees were able to get after the Cents early and often in the first period. They opened the scoring 4 minutes into the game, and then used a 4 minute stretch at the halfway mark to add 3 more to put them in the driver's seat. Despite some solid play, possession, and effort from the Cents they weren’t able to pull through until a late penalty in the 2nd to Carson Kosobud. With the Cents on the powerplay, they were cycling the puck around well. Thomas Manty found Talon Zakall in the high slot and he unleashed a shot that got tipped by Payton Matsui along the way to get the Cents on the board. In the 3rd period frustrations started to show for the Centennials as the penalties started to pile up and the Vees scored shortly after one expired. Payton Matsui got his 2nd of the game shorthanded after surging down the left wing, pulling to his backhand and sliding it five hole on Stankowski. Despite the 2 goal effort from Matsui, the Cents would fall 6-2.

The Surrey Eagles come into the game off the heels of a 3-0 shutout of the Prince George Spruce Kings. Christophe Tellier, Hudson Schandor, and Hassan Akl tallied for the Eagles and Reece Klassen picked up the win and the shutout stopping all 35 shots he faced. Over their last 5 the Eagles are 3-2, and in the month of January they have gone 5-3-1. Despite losing Holden Katzalay to the Vancouver Giants of the WHL earlier this season, their offense has been able to hold steady with the likes of Tellier leading the way.

This will be the 2nd and final matchup of  the season series. The Cents were 5-3 winners back in late November, but they went into the 3rd period trailing 3-0. They used some timely scoring from Jake McLean and Wyatt Marlow, plus a hat trick from Josh Kagan to pull themselves back from the brink and secure a victory. The Cents will be hoping they can pull themselves back from the brink of a 10 game losing skid and bring it to a halt against these Eagles.

Christian Buono was held off the scoresheet last night and has 31 points. With 2 goals last night, Payton Matsui now has 30 points, and Daniel Tkac has 25.

The Eagles are led by Christophe Tellier up front with 54 points, and he's 5th in league scoring. Hudson Schandor has 49 points, and then there's a bit of a drop to Brandon Santa Juana who has 32 points.

The special teams battle sees the Cents coming off a solid performance, converting on 1/3 and going 5/5 on the PK.

Powerplay:                                           Penalty Kill:

Cents - 11% (17th)                         Cents - 73.9% (17th)

Eagles -17.6% (11th)                    Eagles - 83.3% (7th)

In net, Ryan Winter turned in a solid performance after settling into the game. He's now 3-14-1 with a .899 SV% and a 4.05 GAA with 1 shutout. Tanner Marshall is 6-17 with a .880 SV% and a 4.91 GAA.

Reece Klassen has come into the Eagles at the deadline and sort of stolen the starting role. Now 4-1-1 with a .922 SV% a 2.16 GAA and 1 shutout. Thomas Scarfone is 11-10-2 with a .918 SV% and a 2.74 GAA.

Assistant Coach Zach Wright says the team just needs to play that full 60.

“We saw a solid 40 last night, but we weren’t good enough in the opening frame. We need to put it all together and be ready for tonight.”

The Cents hope to be on the right side of the result after 60 minutes tonight.

Puck drop 7pm. Pre-game 6:45 with Jared Thomas and Michael Reeve.

Lots of reasons to come to the rink tonight. Please consider bringing new or used books for the Bright Red Bookshelves in support of Literacy Merritt. There will be prize packs to be won, on and off the ice. Minor Hockey kids get in free when wearing their jerseys, and there's a chance to win $10,000 IF the Cents score in the first 25 seconds of the third period with the purchase of a program.

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The Merritt Centennials skated with the Penticton Vees through the final 40 minutes, but a 4 unanswered in the first from the Vees helped them to a 6-2 win.

The Vees were able to get after the Cents early and often in the first period. Conner Hutchison opened the scoring just 4:08 into the game, and a four minute stretch midway through the first led to 3 more goals from Drew Elser, Jay O’Brien and Danny Weight. Ryan Winter was peppered in his first period of a full start 16 the Cents 10.

Danny Weight added to the Vees lead at the 6:20 mark, and despite some solid play, possession, and effort from the Cents they weren’t able to pull through until a late penalty to Carson Kosobud. With the Cents on the powerplay, they were cycling the puck around well. Thomas Manty found Talon Zakall in the high slot and he unleashed a shot that got tipped by Payton Matsui along the way to get the Cents on the board. The Cents through 16 shots of their own on net in the 2nd period and after 2 led the shot totals, 26-23.

In the 3rd period frustrations started to show for the Centennials as the penalties started to pile up and the Vees scored shortly after one expired. Payton Matsui got his 2nd of the game shorthanded after surging down the left wing, pulling to his backhand and sliding it five hole on Stankowski. That would be as close as the Cents would come, falling 6-2. Final shots were 33-32 Vees.

After the game Assistant Coach Zach Wright said the team just needs to play that full 60.

“We saw a solid 40 tonight, but we weren’t good enough in the opening frame. We need to put it all together and be ready for tomorrow.”

The Cents look to end their losing streak against the Eagles on Saturday night at home.

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The Merritt Centennials (10-31-1-3) look for revenge against the Penticton Vees (36-11-1-1) tonight.

The Centennials come into the contest looking to forget the last time they were in the confines of the SOEC. The Cents had a decent first period. Despite giving up a highlight reel goal to Danny Weight, they were able to equalize the score with a breakaway goal from Evan Benwell to make it 1-1 after 1, but in the second the Vees took over. The Vees scored 2 early goals in the 2nd period from David Silye and Jay O'Brien and despite Head Coach Sweet-Coulter calling a time out the Cents couldn't turn the tide and ended up washed out to sea. The Vees added more offense from Jackson Niedermayer, another from O'Brien, a goal by Tristan Amonte, and Jack Barnes to set themselves up in cruise control up 7-1 after 2. The Cents and local emergency back up Bryce Garcia were able to keep the Vees off the scoresheet until the final minute where they added two more quick ones including an own goal to make it a 9-1 final.  The Cents played much better the following night in Trail, but despite two powerplay goals from Chase Nameth, and another from Evan Benwell weren't able to comeback to tie the game against the Smoke Eaters and fell 4-3 in regulation.

The Vees have been in cruise control through the month of January and are 9-1 over that span. Their only set back came against the Trail Smoke Eaters in Trail, a 4-3 loss, but since then have rattled off 5 in a row including the aforementioned result against the Cents. Since facing Merritt, the Vees have beaten the Salmon Arm Silverbacks by a tight score of 2-1, and used another strong 2nd period on Wednesday to outlast the West Kelowna Warriors 5-2. Team Defense continues to be just as much a strength for the Vees as their offense as they've only allowed more than 2 goals twice in the month of January, and after their game against West K on Wednesday are primed for a long home stand to finish off the season.

This will be the finale of the season series between the two clubs, and Merritt is looking to pick up its first win of the year after coming in 0-5 versus Penticton. They will be boosted by the return of Ryan Winter into the fold, who will see his first start of 2020 after being sidelined with an elbow injury. Josh Van Unen makes his way back into the fold after being held out with injury since before Christmas, and it's just in time for Captain and brother Rylan Van Unen's 200th BCHL regular season game. What makes the elder Van Unen's milestone a little more special is that all 200 games have been played in a Merritt Centennials uniform. The Cents will be looking to play for their Captain in what may be his final visit to the SOEC tonight.

The Cents will look for more contributions from their top end talent. Christian Buono finally found the scoreboard and is at 31 points, Payton Matsui has 28, and Daniel Tkac, after getting 3 breakaway opportunities the last time these two teams met, will be looking to add to his 25 points.

The Vees are led by their Captain David Silye with 53 points, Jay O'Brien has 52, Lukas Sillinger has 49, and Danny Weight has 47.

The special teams battle sees the Cents looking to continue where they left off in Trail, scoring twice with the extra man.

Powerplay:                                      Penalty Kill:

Cents - 10.7% (17th)                 Cents - 73.5% (17th)

Vees - 20.3% (6th)                     Vees - 83.8% (6th)

As mentioned, Ryan Winter is making his return to the crease and is 3-13-1 with a .903 SV%, a 3.94 GAA, and 1 shutout. It remains to be seen whether Tanner Marshall will be available or if the team will turn to another emergency back up.

Yaniv Perets is the number one for Penticton at 21-7-1 with a .918 SV%, a 2.16 GAA, and 5 shutouts. Carl Stankowski has faced the Cents a couple times this season and is 10-3 with a .914 SV% and a 2.03 GAA.

Assistant Coach Paul Barnes says the team is doing a lot of things right, they just need to stick with it.

"We just need to be better at managing momentum swings in the game. We can't get too high, and we can't get too low. Just keep working."

The Cents will look to end up on the right side of the game tonight.

Puck drop 7pm. Pre-game 6:45 on Q101 and HockeyTV with Jared Thomas.

 

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