Merritt Centennials
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The Cents return to the mainland after getting a win and a tie on the island, and going unbeaten in their last 3.

On Friday night they played a complete game, and caught the Victoria Grizzlies in hibernation mode, winning 6-0. Last night, the Cents got outplayed in a scoreless first, bounced back for 3 special teams goals in the third, two on the powerplay, one shorthanded, before surrendering three in the 3rd off of bad bounces and breaks from the Cents defense.

They come into this one looking to shake the weariness out of their legs against a rested Surrey Eagles team that didn’t see action last night, but did lose in OT to the Chilliwack Chiefs 4-3 on Friday. Before that though, the Eagles had rattled off four straight wins, one of them over the league leading Vernon Vipers.

The Cents and Eagles have met once already this season, and this matchup will conclude the season series. Merritt ended up winning the game with their first powerplay goal of the season on a shot from former Eagle, Colten Gerlib 2-1.

Since then, the Eagles have come into form offensively, and boast two top ten scorers in their line up. Ty Westgard is 5th in league scoring with 28 points, and John Wesley is 10th in league scoring with 24. Desi Burgart is another threat who is over the 20 point plateau as well.

The Cents will return to Jacob Berger between the pipes, fresh off his first shutout of the season, he got the rest last night, and should be set to go tonight. The Surrey Eagles will most likely turn to Daniel Davidson, he’s 6-6-0-1 with a .906 save percentage and a 3.26 goals against average.

Head Coach Joe Martin said in looking forward to the game last night that he expects some fresh legs in the lineup.

“The players that didn’t play tonight will be in tomorrow, and they better be ready to go because if they are they will see a lot of ice time.”

The Cents look to extend their unbeaten streak to 4 this afternoon for an early game against the Surrey Eagles. 4pm puck drop, Pre Game at 3:45 with Jared Thomas on 101.1FM or online on your desktop or device at q101.ca.

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The Centennials got outplayed in the first, poured it on in the second, and suffered some bad bounces in the third, and skated all the way through the game through double OT to a 3-3 tie.

In the first period no goals were scored, but the Cents were outshot 17-4, and Austin Roden had to work hard in his first start for Merritt since being acquired earlier this week. Former Centennials netminder, Colten Lancaster had a light first period of action, as he faced his old team for the first time since being traded this summer.

The second period started with the Centennials converting on the powerplay with Bulldog captain Ryan Steele in the box. Ashton Stockie was able to win the draw forward, and Brad Cocca threw it on net for Rylan Van Unen in the slot who flipped a backhander over the blocker side of Lancaster to make it 1-0.

The Cents added another one late in the frame on the powerplay by way of a nifty give and go passing play from Nick Wicks at the right point down low to the right side of the net to Zach Court who returned the pass as Wicks cheated into the slot and his shot beat Lancaster low to the right pad side to make it 2-0.

To cap off the period Brendan Schneider got called for roughing and the Cents went to the penalty kill. Short a man, Zach Zorn was able to pole the puck past a pinching defender, use his break away speed to create separation, then fight off the back check and roof it blocker side on Lancaster to get the third unanswered goal for the Cents.

The Schneider penalty carried over to the third period where the Bulldogs were able to convert early. A shot from the line deflected off a Centennial stick in front and went up top, blocker side on Roden who could only watch.

Just 2 minutes later, Joey Berkopec went to retrieve the puck in his own corner and went to advance the puck up ice, and made a rare turnover as the puck went tape to tape to Paul Selleck who was all alone in the slot and roofed one on Roden to bring the Bulldogs within one.

The Cents managed to rally after a timeout was called by Head Coach Joe Martin, but they eventually buckled with 2 minutes to go. Ryan Steele drove wide on the right side, and threw it towards the net, Roden paddled the puck away, but it went off the back checking Centennial defender and slid through his legs to tie the game.

The Cents had a couple quality chances in OT, and set the tone. Roden made a huge save on a 2-on-1 in double OT, but the Cents couldn’t find the go ahead goal and skated to a 3-3 tie.

Coach Martin said after the game that fatigue was a factor.

“It was a factor tonight, you could see we were in quicksand in the first, and even in the third. You could see we were trying to move the puck, without moving our feet, and you could see it worked against us at different points.”

The Cents will try and get out of the quicksand and extend their unbeaten streak to 4 games when they play the Surrey Eagles Sunday afternoon at 4pm. Pre Game at 3:45 with Jared Thomas on 101.1FM or stream online on your desktop or device at q101.ca.

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The Centennials look to make it three wins in a row for the second time this season, and the only thing standing between them and another win streak is the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.

The Cents are coming off two of their more dominant performances on the year, topping West Kelowna 5-1 on Sunday before beating the Victoria Grizzlies last night 6-0. Against the Grizzlies Matt Kopperud was a force all night recording the Gordie Howe hat trick, a goal, an assist, and a fight and Jacob Berger got his first shutout of the season. 

The Bulldogs won their most recent game against the Cowichan Valley Capitals, doubling them up 6-3, but before that were on a 4-game losing skid. 

Both teams are very similar standings wise as they both own 7 wins on the year, but the Bulldogs have one less loss and two ties to edge the Centennials in the overall standings by one point with 17 compared to the Cents 16. Despite having less points, the Cents actually have a positive goal differential, as they've scored 2 more times than they've been scored against with 61 goals on the year, good enough for 10th in the league. The Bulldogs have only managed 49 goals, third worst in the league, and have allowed 66 for a -17 differential.

The Bulldogs are led offensively by a defenseman, Mitchell Oliver (13), and a trio of rookies: Jackson Doucet (12), Brandon Bergado(11) and Keaton Mastrodonato (11). With solid performances in the last few games the Cents' Zach Zorn moves into a tie with Nick Wicks in points with 15, and three rookies are now over the ten point plateau: Matthieu Gosselin (11), Ashton Stockie (10), and Brendan Schneider (10).   

This game could mark the first start for newly acquired Austin Roden in between the pipes, but with Jacob Berger getting his first shutout of the year, Head Coach Joe Martin may want to ride the hot hand. The Bulldogs will likely turn to John Hawthorne in net who owns a 6-3-0-2 record with a .922 save percentage and a 2.73 goals against average. However, the Cents could see their goaltender from last season between the pipes as Colten Lancaster was traded tothe Bulldogs during the summer, he sports a 1-7 record wih a .882 save percentage and a 4.16 goals against average, but his familiarity with the Cents could give him the edge. 

Head Coach Joe Martin believes that carrying over the good vibes from last night could be crucial to success tonight. 

"I think the positivity and carrying that over will be a big factor. In the last two games, the team has seen what a successful first period can do to set the tone for the hockey game, so we'll look to do the same again tonight."

Puck Drops at 7pm from the Dog Pound in Port Alberni. Pre Game at 6:45 with Jared Thomas on Q101.1FM or on q101.ca on your desktop or device. 

 

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The Cents rode a 4 goal first period and added two more to their most complete victory of the season 6-0.

Matthieu Gosselin got the Cents on the board 8 minutes into the first with a low shot under the pad of Zach Rose. Matt Kopperud and Jack Vincent drew the assists, on a new look line that looked dominant in the offensive end for the Cents.

Towards the tail end of the third Zach Court drove wide on the left wing and rifled one up and over the glove Rose for the second of the game.

Just 20 seconds later Kopperud got his first of the season and first in the BCHL off an odd angle shot that just managed to squeeze through Rose from Gosselin and Vincent, and 16 seconds after that Henry Cleghorn went top corner to make it 4-0.

Berger stopped all 6 shots he faced in the first period, and all 32 shots he faced in the game as he recorded his first shutout on the year.

Rylan Van Unen added a snipe up top from a short angle to make it 5-0 in the second before Zach Zorn added some insurance late in the third on the powerplay to make it 6-0.

Brendan Schneider finished the game with 3 assists, Kopperud got the Gordie Howe hat trick, a goal, assist, and fight, and Berger got his first shutout of the season.

After the game, Head Coach Joe Martin said that the defensive play helped power the offensive.

“We were able to move pucks cleanly, our D-men and Jake were doing a great job of communicating. I think it was our best communicating period of the year, it really helped when we were coming up the ice with pucks and it led to a lot of good looks.”

The Cents get right back to work and look to make it three wins in a row when they head to Port Alberni to take on the Bulldogs. Puck drop at 7, Pre Game at 6:45 with Jared Thomas on 101.1FM or stream the game on your desktop or device at q101.ca.

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The Cents are coming off one of their most impressive wins of the year against the West Kelowna Warriors taking the game by a score of 5-1, and they look to continue that same game style as they begin a 4 game road swing away from the Nicola Valley. 

The journey begins at the Q Centre in Victoria where they take on the tied for 1st place in the Island Division Grizzlies who have a 10-7-2-0 record. The Cents split the season series against the Grizzlies last season with both teams taking their home games in tight one goal fashion. The Cents won 3-2 in Merritt, and the Grizzlies won 5-4 in Victoria. 

The Cents are hoping that the Island Division is kinder to them than it was last season where they struggled to a 2-9 record. As mentioned, one of their lone wins came against the Grizzlies. The Cents finished October 4-4-2-0, which was an improvement over their 2-6-0-0 record in September, and they'll look to improve that in November. 

The Grizzlies come into this game after a busy October in which they played 11 games. The Grizzlies finished 5-6 and come into the game losers of two straight, their last against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in double overtime 3-2.

Victoria is led offensively by stand out rookie Alex Newhook who has 21 points in 19 games played. The Grizzlies also boast 5 more players who have more than 10 points this year: Lucas Clark (17), Jamie Rome (15), Ethan Nother (14), TJ Friedmann (12), and Justin Michaelian (11). 

After struggling to begin the year on the powerplay the Centennials now have the 7th best powerplay in the league at 18.6%, the Grizzlies are just ahead of them at 6th with 20%. The Grizzlies have the leagues 3rd best penalty kill at 85.5%, but only have one short handed goal. The Cents aggressive penalty kill is sitting at 80.8%, but are one off the league pace with 5 short handed goals for. 

Regardless of whether he starts or plays back up, the game will be the first for goaltender Austin Roden in a Centennials jersey after being acquired earlier in the week from the Nanaimo Clippers. To date he has a BCHL record of 11-14-2 with a 3.17 goals against average, and a .901 save percentage with two shutouts in 34 games. 

Head Coach Joe Martin says the Victoria start will be nice, but the team will be tough. 

" Starting in Victoria geographically is nice, but they're a good team, a fast team, and have good goaltending."

The Cents will hope to test the goaltender early and often tonight at the Q Centre in Victoria. 7pm puck drop, 6:45 Pre Game with Jared Thomas on 101.1 FM, or stream the game on your desktop or device at  q101.ca. 

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