Merritt Centennials
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The Cents battled for the full 60 minutes and were rewarded with a regulation victory over the Powell River Kings to kick start their Island road trip with a 4-3 win.

Jerzy Orchard continued where he left off on Sunday by potting in a rebound to the side of the net to make it 1-0 3 minutes in. Payton Matsui found Manty for the initial shot from behind the net. The Kings were able to quickly answer, but then Cents to their first powerplay of the game where the Cents quickly scored. Once again it was Matsui, who from the half-wall was able to spot Captain Rylan Van Unen back door to make it 2-1. The Kings wouldn’t answer until late in the first when Jack Long would throw a puck on net from the corner and it would somehow find a hole against the toe of Marshall to tie the game 2-2 after 20 minutes. Shots after 1 were 14-12 in favour of the Cents.

The second period was largely uneventful until the final minutes. The Cents were able to kill of some early penalties, and were able to capitalize when they got the chance late in the frame. The Cents were about to go to a 2-man advantage when Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter saw a turning point and called a time out. After a great play by Werenka to keep it alive at the blue line, Matsui took the puck skated to the left side and sniped one top corner to give the Cents the 3-2 lead with 15 seconds left in the 2nd. Then with just 3 seconds left Hunor Torzsok got the tip in front to make it 4-2. Shots after 2 were 26-23 Cents.

The final frame saw the Cents in survival mode, and despite giving up an early goal on the powerplay hung on in the final minutes to edge the Kings. Tanner Marshall stopped 31/34 shots en route to his 6th win in a Cents uniform.

After the game, Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter said the team played their heart out and held on.

"These guys played great and were the better team 5-on-5 in the third. They made the simple plays, didn't try and get too fancy and it paid off."

The Cents will look to take the simple win into Saturday night against the Cowichan Capitals, a 6pm start.


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The Merritt Centennials (8-20-1-2) begin the island road swing with a clash against the Powell River Kings (17-14-2-0) tonight.

The Centennials will be looking to channel the team that came back from 5 goals down in the third period against the Vernon Vipers last Sunday afternoon. After trailing 4-0 after the first, and 6-1 after the second, the Cents found themselves down 7-2 with just over 10 minutes to play in the third period. Hunor Torzsok sent the teddy's flying towards the tail end of the 2nd and then picked up another goal in the early goings of the third to have the Cents behind by 5. The avalanche started with a snowball with Jerzy Orchard sitting in front and scoring his 1st as a Cent and first in the BCHL to bring the Cents up to 7-3. Then Chase Nameth drove up the middle and fired a wrister off all three bars and in to make it 7-4. Torzsok then completed the hat trick with another deflection in front to make it 7-5 with just under 3 minutes to go. The Vipers tried to stem the tide by taking a time out, but it didn't work. Chase Nameth quickly threw a wrister on net after a Cents beauty break in, and he finished it by sniping bar and in to pull the Cents within one. Captain Rylan Van Unen completed the come back by shovelling in a back door pass from Torzsok to tie the game up at 7-7 and send it to overtime. The Cents battled through an OT penalty to get it to the shootout, and despite scoring the first goal in the skills competition, couldn't hang on for the victory and fell for the second time in a week in the shootout 8-7. Despite the loss in the column, many around the team still considered it a win to climb all the way back.

That wrapped up a busy week for the Centennials, and they have another busy one ahead as they will have 3 games in 3 nights on the Island road swing and it starts with the Kings tonight. After starting the season with a bang, and then going through a tough stretch, Powell River is starting to figure things out once more. They are 4-0-1 in their last 5 games and will come into this one off the heels of a 4-1 win over the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, dropped their lone game in that stretch 5-4 to the Capitals in overtime, won 5-1 over the Surrey Eagles, 2-1 over the Spruce Kings, and shutout the West Kelowna Warriors 3-0. The Kings made moves to address their goaltending and now have two bonafied options in net, have tweaked with their forward group, and look ready to make another run at the Island Division championship. The Cents will need their full bag of tricks to top the Kings.

This will be the first of the season series, and two players that were traded for one another continue to lead their respective teams in offense. Christian Buono has pulled into a tie with Daniel Tkac for the team lead in points with 23, Payton Matsui has 19 points, and rookie Thomas Manty now has 17.

The Kings are led by former Cent Brett Roloson up front with 24 points, Reilly Moran has 23 points, and Levi Glasman has 21.

The special teams battle sees both teams struggling on both units and will be a battle of the league's basement in that regard. Both teams will be trying to show off some of their adjustments and improvements they're trying to make.

Powerplay:                          Penalty Kill:

Cents - 9% (17th)             Cents - 71% (17th)

Kings - 14.8% (16th)      Kings - 73.1% (16th)

The battle in the crease sees both Centennials netminders hungry ahead of the road trip. Tanner Marshall is 5-9-1 with an .875 SV% and a 4.75 GAA. Ryan Winter is 2-9-2 with a .906 SV% and a 3.96 GAA, with 1 shutout.

Derek Krall has been the guy since coming back from the Penticton Vees for Powell River. He is 13-4-1 with a .912 SV%, a 2.66 GAA, and 1 shutout. Thomas Wardle was picked up from the Coquitlam Express and is 4-2-1 with a .901 SV%, a 2.99 GAA and 1 shutout.

Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter says the team has everything it needs to be successful.

"I think what we found out against the Vipers is that all the tools are in the toolbox. We just need to make sure we come to work."

The Cents will look to find some success tonight.

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

A reminder to sign up for the Planet Fitness Online 50/50 which is sitting at a jackpot of just under $900 with the draw going on Tuesday at 3pm here:

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The Merritt Centennials pulled off a Teddy Bear Toss miracle by storming back in a third period which they came into trailing 6-1 to tie the game, but eventually they fell in the shootout to the Vernon Vipers 8-7.

It wasn't all rosy off the hop, as the Merritt Centennials quickly found themselves down by 1 as Matt Kowalski picked up where he left off by scoring on a 2-on-1 to make it 1-0.  Dawson Holt made it 2-0 after a nifty no-look backhand feed from Kowalski. A dust up ensued as Braydon Clark hit Kowalski in the corner after the goal was scored, but the Vipers didn't make the Cents pay on the scoreboard. However, later on in the the Vipers would add another pair and the Cents found themselves in a 4-0 hole after the first. Ryan Winter made the start, and faced 12 shots in net to the Vipers' Reilly Herbst who faced 11.

The 2nd period started much like the first with Connor Marritt getting the goal to make it 5-0. Tanner Marshall would come in to relieve Winter and that would wake the team up a little. Marritt would complete his hat trick in the latter goings of the 2nd, but the Cents would finally send the teddy's flying on the PP late too. Talon Zakall threw a shot on from the right point and like he's been there so many times this season Hunor Tozsok deflected it in to send the teddy's flying, and get the Cents on the board before the 2nd period came to a close to make it 6-1. Despite being outscored, shots after 2 were 22-20 in favour of the Cents.

The Cents started with a penalty early on in the third and things didn't look great, but out of the box Hunor Torzsok was spotted by Ben Ward and finished a backhand forehand move in front to make it 6-2. At the ten minute mark, Hunter Donohoe scored on the powerplay to make things 7-2. Shortly after the Cents decided to start playing Centennials hockey. Brophy Dunne spurred the comeback trail with a huge reverse hit on Elan Bar Lev Wise, that was the spark the Cents needed. Jerzy Orchard crashed the net and cashed in to make it 7-3 and that got the Cents believing. Chase Nameth received a pass from Christian Buono and rang it off every bar around the net and in to make it 7-4 with just over 5 minutes to play. From then on the Cents were unstoppable scoring within the 5 foot margin around the net with goals from Torzsok, Nameth, and the Captain Rylan Van Unen clinched the come back to make it 7-7.

In overtime, the Cents were pushing, but ended up taking a penalty to put themselves short with too many men on the ice. The Cents were able to kill off the penalty to get it to the shootout. Rylan Van Unen had the goalie beat, but couldn't find the open cage. Thomas Manty came in with speed and fired glove side, but high. Tanner Marshall stopped both shots he faced. Payton Matsui was able to slide one 5-hole to give the Cents the edge. Matt Kowalski was able to answer by beating Marshall, Nameth couldn't score and the Vipers would break the deadlock to make it 8-7 in the shootout.

After the game, Derek Sweet-Coulter said the Cents proved they can play against anyone when they're playing the right way.

"We started to see what can happen when we can roll our lines, everyone is engaged, and we are going to the right areas."

The Cents will look to take the momentum into a short week of practice before heading to the Island.

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The Merritt Centennials (8-20-1-1) are hoping the teddy's can bring them back to life against the Vernon Vipers (17-12-1-1).

The Cents are licking their wounds after the Vipers took it to them on Friday night in Vernon. Things started off with a solid road period as Christian Buono blasted a beauty upstairs for his 2nd as a Cent, but the Vipers were able to score in the final minute of the period to tie the game 1-1. Despite the late goal allowed, the Cents were in a good position on the road after 1. To start the second it was the Vipers who carried over the momentum scoring 2 more goals before Hunor Torzsok answered on the just expired powerplay to make it 3-2, but again the Vipers kept steam rolling this time adding 3 more unanswered before Thomas Manty scored to make it 6-3. Braydon Clark dropped the gloves to stand up for a team mate, but that wouldn't swing the momentum as the Vipers would add two more to make it an 8-3 final. Tanner Marshall was in net for the game, and made some big saves in the losing effort.

The Vipers followed up Friday night's win with another on home ice for their Teddy Bear Toss. Coming into the weekend as one of the teams in the BCHL that was struggling to score the most, they've exploded for offense scoring 14 goals in their last two games and outscoring their opponents 14-9. Matt Kowalski torched the Cents for a hat trick and 5 points, and sent the teddy's tossing last night as well. The Cents will have to do a much better job at containing him and protecting the goal mouth if they want to come out on the winning end this afternoon.

The Cents will be without the services of Daniel Tkac as he's gone off to the World Juniors to try and make team Slovakia. So the team will turn to Christian Buono who's heating up with the Cents with 20 points, Payton Matsui with 19 points, and recently acquired Evan Benwell to supply some offense.

The Vipers are led by Matt Kowalski who has now shot into 13th in league scoring with 32 points, Captain Connor Marritt has 25 points, and Dawson Holt is just over a point per game with 21 points.

The special teams battle will see the Cents powerplay try and break through against one of the league's best penalty kills.

Powerplay:                                 Penalty Kill:

Cents -8.6% (17th)               Cents - 70.9% (17th)

Vipers - 14.2% (16th)         Vipers - 87.9% (3rd)

The goaltender duel sees the Vipers coming in hot while the Cents are looking to pick up some wins. Ryan Winter is 2-9-2 with a .912 SV% and a 3.92 GAA and 1 shutout. Tanner Marshall is 5-10 with an .874 SV% and a 4.85 GAA.

The Vipers are led by Reilly Herbst who's 12-2-1 with a .927 SV%, a 2.05 GAA, and a 1 shutout. James Porter Jr is 1-4 with an .898 SV% and a 3.04 GAA after picking up his first win last night.

Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter says the Cents need to protect the middle against this dangerous team.

"We need to keep this team to the outside, and clean up in front of the net to give our goalies a chance."

The Cents will look to protect against a 7th straight loss tonight.

Puck drop 2pm. Pre-game 1:45 with Jared Thomas and Michael Reeve on Q101 and Hockey TV.

Bring a teddy and be ready to toss at the Cents first goal, and feel free to bring a donation for the food bank if we missed your house yesterday for the Hockey with Heart food drive.

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The Merritt Centennials had a strong first road frame, but couldn’t sustain against the Vernon Vipers in an 8-3 loss.

The Cents opened the scoring in the latter half of the first when Payton Matsui broke free down the left wing, didn’t have an option so hit Christian Buono with a no look back pass on a platter that Buono hammered top corner to make it 1-0. The Vipers were able to steal the Cents thunder by scoring in the final minute of the first to tie the game at 1’s. Shots after 1 were 11-6 in favour of Vernon.

The second period saw the Vipers strike early scoring just over a minute into play off a rebound to make it 2-1. Landon Fuller squeaked one through Marshall with a shot from the point to make it 3-1. The Cents answered on a just expiring powerplay with a spin around shot from Hunor Torzsok to make it 3-2, but the Vipers didn’t take long to answer back to restore the 2 goal margin 4-2 when Kowalski peeled off the half wall and sniped one short side past Marshall. Dawson Holt added a late marker with the extra man to make it 5-2 at the end of 2. Shots after 2 were 25-18 in favour of the Vipers.

The final frame saw the Vipers continue to pull away, as once again they tallied early, this time in the first minute to make it 6-2. Braydon Clark dropped the gloves with Brett Fudger after taking exception to the shots he was giving Chase Nameth. The linesmen initially stepped in and then let them go, and by the time they were set loose Clark was tied up in his jersey and couldn’t unleash the lefts. Thomas Manty answered for the Cents just as 4-on-4 play expired to score a PP goal just over halfway through the period cut the lead in half 6-3. A late penalty by Olson Werenka for charging led to the Vipers adding another on the PP, and then Matt Kowalski completed the hat trick with a breakaway pass. Final shots were 43-30 Vipers.

After the game, Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter said the Cents need to make the game easier on themselves.

“When we get into the tough situations, when the other team is swirling, we need to fall back to the simple play. We don’t need to try and do too much, it has to be our default to make that easy move.”

The Cents will look to rebound in the rematch on Sunday against the Vipers at 2pm for the Teddy Bear Toss.

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