Merritt Centennials
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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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The Merritt Centennials slowly found their legs after a long bus ride North to Prince George, and capitalized on a powerplay in overtime to capture their first win of the exhibition season.

The first period started off slow for the Cents and they were heavily out shot. If not for some fine work from Vincent Duplessis the scoreline could've been far worse, although the Spruce Kings did manage to get one past him in the first.

The middle frame saw the Cents slowly start to come alive and it was Christian Sabin who found the back of the net after collecting a sharp angle rebound off a Matt Kopperud shot to tie things up. Despite a turnstile of players that headed to the box on both sides, the scoreline stayed at one a piece through 2.

In the third, the Spruce Kings shot out to an early lead, but the Cents were able to respond quickly. Nic Granowicz showed off some speed to the outside and was able to beat the Spruce Kings goaltender down low to restore the tie at 2. Momentum started to swing in the Cents favour as the 3rd period rolled on, and the Cents were gifted a powerplay late in the frame which carried over into extra time.

In overtime the Cents took advantage of the extra man by cycling the puck perfectly around the horn before a cross seam pass found Matt Kopperud perfectly on the tape and he was able to one-time it past a sprawling Prince George netminder for the win.

It brings the Centennials pre-season record to 1-2, and sets up the Centennials final exhibition game at the NVMA, a 7pm puckdrop against the Spruce Kings on Friday.

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The Merritt Centennials make the long road trip north to battle the Prince George Spruce Kings in their 3rd Exhibition game tonight.

The Centennials went 1-2 against the Spruce Kings last year with each team taking a victory at home and Prince George besting the Cents at the showcase. However, all the games were tightly contested with both of the Spruce Kings wins coming by one-goal margins, one of them in overtime. The Centennials win at home was the largest, a 5-2 victory.

The Spruce Kings are coming off a season when they went all the way to the Fred Page Cup Finals, but were only bested by the same team that defeated the Centennials in playoff action: the Wenatchee Wild. Many would expect a deep run in the playoffs to involve players that were in their final year with the BCHL, but the Spruce Kings will have plenty of returning firepower. Up front forwards Ben Brar, Dustin Manz, Patrick Cozzi, and Ben Poisson who were among the teams leading scorers are all returning. On the back end standouts like Liam Watson Braun, Layton Ahac, and Dylan Anhorn will all be back for another go round. This Spruce Kings club hasn't taken many steps back in the off season,  and this home at home series against the Centennials will be their first opportunity to see what kind of club they have for 2017-18.

The Centennials are fresh off a couple games against the Vernon Vipers this weekend, and the results weren't what the team was hoping for dropping both in tight decisions. The exhibition opener at home saw the Cents fall 3-1, and the follow up game in Vernon resulted in a 2-1 loss. However, in those losses the Cents goaltending looked sharp, they outshot the Vipers 90-59 over the two games, they drove play, and the chemistry is slowly starting to build in the lineup.

Tonight's match up will mark the first with the new signings, and Head Coach and General Manager Joe Martin is looking for the team to come together.

"We like our group. It's important to us to start gelling right away and become even better as a team."

The only change to the lineup tonight will be the loss of Daniel Tkac to injury, and the return of Josh Van Unen to Shawnigan Lake. As a result, Colten Gerlib will line up as a winger, but could also see time cycling through as a defenseman.

Austin Roden will get the start in net, and so far through preseason he has proven tough to beat allowing only 1 goal through the two half games he has played.

The game will be available online on HockeyTV, with the puck set to drop for 7pm.

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