The Merritt Centennials embarked on their 45th anniversary season by honoring one of the best Cents over the course of their history: Eddie Beers.
Despite the emotional raising of Beers' number 16 to the rafters, the Cents couldn't draw inspiration and came out in the first period flat footed.
It didn't take long for the Vees to capitalize as Rylan Van Unen had his pocket picked defensively by Cassidy Bowes who found a streaking Owen Sillinger on the partial 2-on-1, and Silinger was able to put the puck past an outstretched Berger to make it 1-0 at the 1:40 mark of the 1st.
Just 7 seconds later it was Sillinger's younger brother, Lukas who converted on a strange scramble in front of the net after an off angle shot from Ben Allen.
That prompted Head Coach and General Manager Joe Martin to burn his time out, and give his team a tongue lashing. The Cents managed to steady the ship from there, but slowly started the march to the penalty box. Over the remainder of the first, the Cents went to the box 3 times without suffering any ill effects.
The Cents started the second period a lot better than the first and it was the current Centennial who wears Eddie Bears' number 16, Zach Court, who started the scoring. He got a feed from Joey Berkopec, and managed to snipe it top corner glove side on Nolan Hildebrand at the 2:09.
6 minutes later it was the other Zach on the team, that being Zach Zorn, who got the Cents back to even ground with the Vees, working up the short side he ripped a shot top corner blockerside, annihilating the water bottle over Hildebrand's shoulder.
After the Zorn goal, Ashton Stockie and a Sillinger marched off with coincidental minors for unsportsmanlike conduct, and the parade to the penalty box continued for the Cents. It was Court who was in the box when Jonny Tychonik wired in a point shot unassisted past Jacob Berger to restore the 1 goal lead.
The Vees rode that one goal lead all the way into the final minute of the 3rd period, where they got some late insurance on another bizarre goal, this time by Taylor Ward.
They ended up winning the game 4-2. The Cents were a little undisciplined in the game as they were shorthanded 8 times, but managed to kill 7 of them. However, they couldn't convert on the powerplay where they went 0/5. Berger played decently stopping 34/38 shots, and looked sharp throughout the contest.
Coach Martin said that discipline will be the name of the game come tomorrow night against Wenatchee.
"A lot of that is in our hands to fix, there's a lot of calls that don't have to be called."
The Cents will see if they can channel some discipline come Saturday night against the Wenatchee Wild. Puck drop at 7pm.
MERRITT CENTENNIALS 2017-18 RADIO BROADCAST SCHEDULE
|Friday, September 8||vs Penticton Vees||6:45|
|Saturday, September 9||vs Wenatchee Wild||6:45|
|Friday, September 15||vs Vernon Vipers||6:45|
|Saturday, September 16||@ West Kelowna||6:45|
|Thursday, September 21||@ Langley Rivermen (BCHL Showcase)||12:45|
|Friday, September 22||vs Prince George Spruce Kings (BCHL Showcase)||9:45|
|Wednesday, September 27||vs Surrey Eagles||6:45|
|Saturday, September 30||vs Cowichan Valley Capitals||6:45|
|Sunday, October 1||vs Prince George Spruce Kings||1:45|
|Friday, October 6||@ Salmon Arm Silverbacks||6:45|
|Wednesday, October 11||@ Prince George Spruce Kings||6:45|
|Friday, October 13||vs Penticton Vees||6:45|
|Saturday, October 14||@ Wenatchee Wild||6:45|
|Wednesday, October 18||vs Chilliwack Chiefs||6:45|
|Friday, October 20||@ Penticton Vees||6:45|
|Saturday, October 21||@ Salmon Arm Silverbacks||6:45|
|Friday, October 27||vs Trail Smoke Eaters||6:45|
|Sunday, October 29||vs West Kelowna Warriors||1:45|
|Friday, November 3||@ Victoria Grizzlies||6:45|
|Saturday, November 4||@ Alberni Valley Bulldogs||6:45|
|Sunday, November 5||@ Surrey Eagles||3:45|
|Friday, November 10||@ Salmon Arm Silverbacks||6:45|
|Friday, November 17||vs Vernon Vipers||6:45|
|Saturday, November 18||vs Alberni Valley Bulldogs||6:45|
|Friday, November 24||@ West Kelowna Warriors||6:45|
|Saturday, November 25||vs Trail Smoke Eaters||6:45|
|Friday, December 1||vs West Kelowna Warriors||6:45|
|Saturday, December 2||@ Trail Smoke Eaters||6:45|
|Friday, December 8||vs Wenatchee Wild||6:45|
|Saturday, December 9||vs Salmon Arm Silverbacks||6:45|
|Tuesday, December 12||@ Trail Smoke Eaters||6:45|
|Friday, December 15||@ Vernon Vipers||6:45|
|Sunday, December 17||vs Nanaimo Clippers||1:45|
|BCHL HOLIDAY BREAK|
|Friday, December 29||vs Coquitlam Express||6:45|
|Wednesday, January 3||@ Coquitlam Express||6:45|
|Friday, January 5||@ Vernon Vipers||6:45|
|Saturday, January 6||vs Salmon Arm Silverbacks||6:45|
|Wednesday, January 10||@ Penticton Vees||6:45|
|Friday, January 12||vs Vernon Vipers||6:45|
|Saturday, January 13||@ Trail Smoke Eaters||6:45|
|Tuesday, January 16||vs Wenatchee Wild||6:45|
|Friday, January 19||@ Penticton Vees||6:45|
|Saturday, January 20||vs Powell River Kings||6:45|
|Friday, January 26||@ Wenatchee Wild||6:45|
|Saturday, January 27||@ Wenatchee Wild||6:45|
|Wednesday, January 31||@ Vernon Vipers||6:45|
|Friday, February 2||vs Penticton Vees||6:45|
|Saturday, February 3||@ West Kelowna||6:45|
|Friday, February 9||@ Powell River Kings||7:00|
|Saturday, February 10||@ Alberni Valley Bulldogs||5:45|
|Sunday, February 11||@ Cowichan Valley Capitals||1:45|
|Wednesday, February 14||vs Langley Rivermen||6:45|
|Friday, February 16||@ Chilliwack Chiefs||6:45|
|Saturday, February 17||vs Salmon Arm Silverbacks||6:45|
|Sunday, February 18||vs Victoria Grizzlies||1:45|
|Tuesday, February 20||vs Trail Smoke Eaters||6:45|
|Friday, February 23||vs West Kelowna||6:45|
|Saturday, February 24||@ Langley Rivermen||6:45|
The Merritt Centennials have released their roster ahead of the 2017-18 Season. There's a good group of returning players, but a number of new faces as well.
The returning players on offense will include: Henry Cleghorn, Chase Bell, Rylan Van Unen, Zach Court, Zach Zorn, and Nick Wicks.
Players who were added over the summer on forward that made the squad are: Ashton Stockie, Brendan Schneider, and Matthew Kopperud.
Rounding out the forward ranks are the players that made the team from camp: Jack Vincent, Christian Sabin, Alex Bourhas, McKullen Astill.
The defense will be led by returnees Tyrell Buckley and Mike Van Unen, and supplemented by summer acquisitions Joey Berkopec and Jackson Munro. Making the team out of camp are Sam Miller and Jake Borgida.
The crease will be shared between returning goalie Jakob Berger and newcomer Vincent Duplessis.
Head Coach and General Manager Joe Martin says that when determining this years roster he had some pretty simple criteria.
"We're not looking for players that just want to play in the BCHL and wear a tracksuit or a jersey and just think that good things are going to happen to them just because they're here. We need guys that are going to go out there and be impactful."
Martin adds that the fans can get excited about consistent effort.
"I guess what has us most interested is the depth in every position. Hopefully it's wave after wave of similar hockey."
The season starts on Friday with Eddie Beers Night versus the BCHL Champions and rival Penticton Vees.
Goals were hard to come by, but penalties weren't in the preseason closer on Friday night. The Chilliwack Chiefs visited the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena to take on the Merritt Centennials, and despite the many powerplay opportunities neither team could convert. The Chiefs eventually got the heartbreaking goal in double overtime to win 2-1.
The first period saw 6 penalties in total. The Cents went to the box on two occasions. Lucas Yovetich got the first penalty of the game at 2:16 of the period, and the Chiefs didn't manage to get a shot on their first powerplay. In fact, the Chiefs didn't manage to get their first official shot until 12 minutes had expired in the 1st period. The Cents finished the first period 0/3 on the powerplay, while the Chiefs went 0/1. Shots by the end of the 20 minutes of play were 10-7 in favour of the Cents. Both goaltenders looked sharp in the opening frame. Jacob Berger was in his best shape of the preseason stopping all Chiefs players, but his counterpart Daniel Chenard was equal to the task as well.
In the second, the parade to the penalty box continued. Matt Kopperud and Powell Connor had offsetting minors, as did Rylan Van Unen and Kaden Pickering, and Auston Ghiradelli along with Lucas Albert. Needless to say, there was a lot of stick work after whistles, pushing, shoving, and face washes as neither team was backing down from the physical challenge. The Cents managed to kill off two penalties late in the period before they got a big opportunity just as time expired in the second. Bobby Young of the Chiefs got a two minute minor for tripping, and his teammate Wyatt Elmer received a 2 minute minor and 10 minute misconduct on the same play. The Cents didn't manage to convert with what time was left in the period on the two man advantage but would have a great opportunity to start the third.
Despite good puck movement on the 5-on-3 powerplay to start the third, the Cents only managed one shot with 1:47 of time to try and solve Chenard. The Chiefs and Cents went off in tandem yet again during the third period after Tyrell Buckley and Jared Turcotte got into a mix up. The Cents got a chance to go ahead when Chiefs forward Ryan Miotto went to the box with around 13 minutes to go in the third, but once again they couldn't convert with the man advantage.
However, shortly after they finally did break the deadlock. New winger, Christian Sabin, streaked down the wing, and as he was looping around the far side corner about to head behind the net he threw a pass right onto a waiting Alex Bourhas in the slot between the hash marks who ripped it mid-blocker side on Chenard for the first goal of the game. It came with 11:58 to go in the third.
After the Cents broke the goose egg, the Chiefs came to life, pressing even harder than before. It didn't take them long to convert as just over a minute later Skyler Brind'Amour, son of NHL'er Rod Brind'Amour, was well positioned in front to bang home a rebound off a Harrison Blaisdell shot to tie things up at ones.
That's how the game ended after 60 minutes of play, and the Cents were off to overtime for the first time in the preseason. The Chiefs got a penalty early into the first overtime period, but the Cents couldn't convert on the 4-on-3. Joey Berkopec took a penalty late into the overtime period, but the Chiefs couldn't convert before the end of the 5 minutes of extra time.
In the second overtime, with Joey Berkopec sitting in the box, the Cents managed to kill off the nailbiting penalty. However, moments after the penalty expired newly minted captain of the Chiefs, Will Calverly, ripped a shot over the shoulder of Berger for the double OT win. The Cents were 7/7 on the penalty kill, but were 0/9 on the powerplay.
The Cents showed lots of pushback and resilience in what was one of their most consistent performances of the preseason against one of the powerhourses in the BCHL. But after 5 games of the preseason the Cents fell to 1-4, with their lone win coming in the preseason opener. The roster currently sits at 27 players, and needs to get down to 23 for the start of the regular season next friday against the Penticton Vees.