In another move made on Monday, the Merritt Centennials are welcoming back some familiar firepower to the lineup.
The Cents have acquired Zach Risteau from his sojourn in the USHL. This season he got into 19 games with the Central Illinois Flying Aces contributing 5 points, but last year he led the Cents in scoring with 50 points in 53 games.
Head Coach and General Manager Joe Martin says Risteau is the kind of player the Centennials were looking to add.
"He finished the year with us last year, had a good scoring season, so we're here to bring him back, and hopefully add some more offense to our to team, but also make us a bit deeper."
Martin added that they may not be done yet with one roster spot open, and two cards remaining.
"We're listening, and we're inquiring. It doesn't mean that we're going to do something. If it's the right move, we'll do it."
Risteau is in Merritt, and will be ready for Wednesday nights game against the Penticton Vees.
The Cents announced a move today, Jack Vincent will be joining the Janesville Jets of the North American Hockey League.
Vincent compiled 5 goals and 4 assists in 30 games so far this season, his first with the Cents. He spent the majority of his time at centre.
Head Coach Joe Martin says he was happy to accomodate Vincent's request.
"Jack is a great player, but at centre we felt we had a lot of depth, and Jack saw the writing on the wall. He wanted to go somewhere he might get a little more opportunity."
The move comes with the trade deadline looming on Wednesday, January 10th.
For the first time in 2018, the Cents can call themselves victorious. Granted there's only been 3 games since the Christmas break, the Cents didn't want to stretch this streak out any further, and proved it with their pace and determination throughout 60 minutes in the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena on Saturday night against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
The night started with the Cents getting their first lead of 2018, after Matt Kopperud was sprung on a partial breakaway by Zach Zorn, he did the heavy lifting cutting to the net, and forcing Kyle Dumba to make a huge save that had him down and out, and Zorn used his nose for the net and found the loose puck and put it in the open net.
The Cents weren't done there as later in the period they found themselves on the powerplay, and they got another first, their first powerplay goal of 2018, and it couldn't have been prettier. A Sedinery style slap-pass from Mike Van Unen to Matthieu Gosselin that he fluttered into the shortside corner over a perplexed Dumba to make it 2-0, and that's how the Cents would skate into the 2nd.
In the second, the Centennials were awarded another powerplay early, and Gosselin was awarded another goal, this time after some tenacious play in front by him and his linemates Henry Cleghorn and Chase Bell. They battled in front, recovered the puck behind the net, and then found Gosselin in the slot who tapped it home for his second on the night, both on the powerplay.
However, the Silverbacks would mount the comeback, and it would start on a weird one from Justin Wilson who took a short side shot on Austin Roden, who got the start for the Cents, it looked like Roden made the initial save, but when he readjusted the puck slid across the line to make it 3-1.
The Silverbacks got another one from Tanner Campbell later in the period to make it 3-2 heading into the third.
The Cents didn't sit back in the third, but didn't get any separation until 1:30 remaining when Nick Wicks broke across the blue line on the counter attack with Brendan Schneider. Wicks deked to the right, but feathered a backhand pass onto the tape of Schneider who tapped it past Dumba to make it 4-2.
After the game, Head Coach Joe Martin credited the boys for their mental toughness.
"You know it's tough when you have everyone asking, "when are you going to win one." And yeah, it was only 3 games, but that stuff starts to get on your nerves, so give them credit they came ready to play tonight and got the win."
Cents next play on Wednesday, January 10th against the Penticton Vees where they'll look for their first win against their archrivals this season.
The Centennials return home hoping to shake the blues that have followed them after the Christmas break. A delayed game loss here at home last Friday to the Coquitlam Express, followed by two more on the road to the Express and Vipers, have the Cents looking for answers and they'll hope to find them tonight against the streaking Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
The 'Backs come into this one winners of their last 2 in a row, and those wins come over some pretty good competition the Vernon Vipers 4-3, and last night they topped the Wenatchee Wild 3-0. Those teams 1 and 2 respectively in the Interior Division. The Cents and Silverbacks 6 & 7 respectively in the division, but Salmon Arm now just two points back of the Cents and you know they'd like to retake 6th place, and get out of the basement of the Interior.
The last game between these two clubs was back on December 9th at the NVMA, and the Cents absolutely peppered Kyle Dumba in the first period with 25 shots. That's more than the Cents record in a number of their games, but Kyle Dumba who got the start kept it scoreless through one. In the second, Henry Cleghorn scored 2, and in the third he'd add another for the Cents lone hat trick of the year. Zach Zorn would add one as well, and Rhett Kingston had the only answer for the Silverbacks as Merritt won 4-1.
Rhett Kingston remains the go to guy on the Silverbacks with 34 points, but the Silverbacks will have some new faces since the last time these two teams met. The 'Backs have completely renovated their goaltending situation from the beginning of the year, gone are the likes of Nic Tallarico and Bo Didur, and in come Kyle Dumba, and Reid Cooper more recently from the Coquitlam Express. They've also added some size to the blueline with Joseph Leahy from the Penticton Vees, and got Brandon Whistle from the Vernon Vipers. The moves have sparked the club, and they have rung off two straight since acquiring those players.
The Cents have a couple feelers out there, but nothing concrete as of yet on the trade front. The deadline is January 10th, and the Cents have one open roster spot to make an addition without necessarily having to make a subtraction.
On the powerplay, the Centennials are in a bit of a funk, going 1/16 since Christmas, but still hanging onto 10th with a 17.6%, Salmon Arm has just climbed above them in 9th with 18.1%, but there was a time when Salmon Arm was leading the league so they're a threat with the man advantage. The Cents hold down 9th in the league on the penalty kill, and are yet to have a perfect game since Christmas. The Silverbacks however are second worst in the league on the penalty kill at 76.9% so the Cents may be able to seize the special teams battle tonight.
On paper, the Cents with the edge in the goaltending matchup as well. Austin Roden is 6-6-0-2 with a 92.1 SV% and a 2.89 GAA. Jacob Berger now 10-15-2-0 with a 91 SV% and a 3.22 GAA with 2 shutouts. Reid Cooper and Kyle Dumba are the netminders for Salmon Arm now. Cooper 3-11-0-1 with a 90.9 SV% and a 3.63 GAA and 1 shutout. Dumba 4-13 with a 89.7 SV% and a 3.86 GAA.
Head Coach Joe Martin said last night that Salmon Arm is getting some payoff from their trades.
"They've made some moves and brought in some players, and so far it's paying off for them. Sometimes that's the spark you need."
The Cents will try to light a spark tonight when they take on the Silverbacks.
Puck drop 7pm, Pre-game 6:45 with Jared Thomas on Q101.1FM or online at q101.ca
The Cents once again trailed by one late into the third period, except this time they were held off the score sheet, and the Vipers added an empty netter.
This one chalked up to a goaltender battle between Jacob Berger and Ty Taylor. Berger stopped 27/28 but Taylor stopped all 22.
The first period passed without much of note until the final 5 minutes. Tyrell Buckley went to the box, to start the eventual parade to the sin bin. The Vipers took a late penalty that carried over to the second.
The Cents couldn’t muster anything on that powerplay to start the second, but they skated with the Vipers through 2 periods of scoreless hockey. Lots of neutral zone play, lots of quick entrances, and faster exits, in a game that struggled to find its flow.
In the third, the Cents couldn’t convert on two 2-man advantages, albeit short ones, and ended up surrendering a goal on the powerplay. A Jimmy Lambert snipe to the blocker side of Berger, after a drop pass from Jesse Landsdell.
The Cents had opportunities on breakaways from Brendan Schneider and Zach Zorn to try and tie, and some saves from Taylor kept Merritt off the board.
The Cents went 0/6 on the powerplay, now 0-4 against Vernon this season, have yet to get a win since the Christmas break, and will look to break that, and their three game losing skid Saturday night at home against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
Head Coach Joe Martin says he liked his teams effort in this one.
“It was a definite improvement from our last two games, we didn’t hang our heads like I felt we did at times against Coquitlam. We had a great effort, just needed more shots in the third and to convert on our chances.”
The Cents look ahead to the Salmon Arm Silverbacks Saturday night at home.