Merritt Centennials
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The Centennials had their first lead after a period of play against the Coquitlam Express, but couldn't follow it up in the final 40 minutes and fell 6-3.

The first period saw the Cents surge early, but when things got a little hectic with end to end action the Express were the first team to capitalize. Ryan Tattle scored 5 minutes in to beat Tanner Marshall for the first goal of the game. The Cents were able to answer back when Chase Nameth barged to the front of the net and created a loose puck for Daniel Tkac, who sniped one top corner with a quick release. Matt Osadick got credit for the go ahead goal after a faceoff in the offensive zone was won back to Clay Stevenson and snuck past him to make it 2-1. Shots after 1 were 14-14.

Late in the first period, Rylan Van Unen took a high sticking penalty, and early in the second Troy Quinn went off for boarding giving the most lethal powerplay in the BCHL a two-man advantage. The Cents got burned by Adam Trotman after some puck movement around the horn to tie the game at 2's just a minute 44 into the period. Danny Pearson regained the lead for the express just over a minute later, and with Van Unen in the box again for high sticking the Express got another one from Noah De Lah Durantaye to make it 4-2. In the latter half of the period the Cents got a 2-man advantage of their own, it built momentum, but the Cents couldn't cash in before the period was out. Shots after 2 were 27-26 in favour of the Express.

The final frame saw the Cents trying to come back from a two-goal deficit, but within the opening minute they'd go to the penalty kill once more. However, it wasn't until the middle of the frame that the Express would extend the lead with Lapointe making it 5-2. Payton Matsui would bring the Cents within 2, but the Express would answer right back to make it a 6-3 final. Final shots were 39-33 in favour of the Express with Tanner Marshall stopping 33 in the loss. Despite the goals against, Marshall played a solid game in net and came up with some massive saves throughout the night.

After the game, Assistant Coach Derek Sweet Coulter said the Cents need to simplify their game.

"I think when we get the defensemen turned and we are chipping the pucks to open areas where we can win the battles is when we are best. We just need to make sure we are winning the battles."

The Cents will try and regroup on Saturday at the NVMA against the Wenatchee Wild - puck drop 7pm.

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The Merritt Centennials (1-4) look to return to the win column when they storm the Poirier Sports and Leisure Complex to take on the Coquitlam Express (4-1) tonight.

The Centennials are coming off an up and down weekend that saw them have their best game of the year against the West Kelowna Warriors, and follow that up with one of their worst efforts against the Wenatchee Wild. Against the Warriors, the Cents surrendered a goal early, but were able to battle back with a goal from Brett Roloson to make it 1-1. The Warriors regained the lead in the first, but from the 2nd period on it was all Centennials. A powerplay goal from Thomas Manty leveled the score at 2, and in the 3rd the Cents added two more - one from Daniel Tkac and the other from Payton Matsui to make it a 4-2 final. After the road trip to Wenatchee, the Cents came out of the gates a little flat they surrendered the opening tally 2:47 into the game, and were down by 3 before they answered the bell. Daniel Tkac sniped a centering feed from Brett Roloson up top to make it 3-1, and in the third converted on a penalty shot to bring the Cents within one. Despite being outshot by over 30, the Cents were in it with a chance to win. Unfortunately, Wenatchee would convert on a powerplay goal, and then ice the game with an empty netter to make it a 5-2 final.

The Coquitlam Express are off to a great start and are the current leaders of the Mainland Division. Head Coach Jason Fortier is into full year number two as bench boss of the Express, after he took over from the Centennials current coach Barry Wolff. Head Coach Wolff might have a little extra on the line against his former team. Last weekend the Express had a triple-header that saw them lose 6-1 in Langley, but follow it up with a 3-2 win over Chilliwack, and a 5-1 win over the defending Champion Spruce Kings. With the Spruce Kings and Chiefs in a slight rebuilding year, the Mainland Division is wide open for a surge from Coquitlam.

Last season the Cents went 2-0 against the Express. Winning the game in Coquitlam 5-4 in overtime, and 5-0 at home.

The Cents could get a first look at two of their newest acquisitions tonight in Jerzy Orchard and Tanner Marshall. Orchard a forward from the Kamloops Blazers system is eager to prove he is more than a grinder, and Marshall, who came over from the National Champion Brooks Bandits, is looking for his first taste of game action in a Cents uniform.

Daniel Tkac was a bright spot for the Centennials last weekend as he picked up 3 goals and 1 assist over the 2 games and was named an honorable mention in the BCHL's Player of the Week. He leads the team with 6 points now to start the year. Brett Roloson has 2 goals and 2 helpers, and Troy Quinn has 3 points to lead the Centennials offensively.

The Express early on are a team that gets things done by committee. They're a deep team that can score no matter which line is on the ice. They're led by defenseman Steven Bellini who has 7 assists, while 4 players: Danny Pearson, Tyler Schleppe, Nicholas Carabin, and Adam Trotman have 4 points a piece.

The special teams battle sees the Express with the edge in both categories.

Powerplay:                                   Penalty Kill:

Coq - 31.8% (1st)                     Coq - 86.7% (7th)

Cents - 19% (8th)                    Cents - 71.4% (14th)

The goaltending duel sees Ryan Winter as the only tender of record for the Centennials so far. He's 1-4 with a .905 SV% and a 4.05 GAA. Tanner Marshall is waiting in the wings after going 12-0 with the Brooks Bandits last season with a 1.33 GAA and a .925 SV%.

The Express sport the top goaltender in the league early on in Clay Stevenson. After the death of his mother, he is playing unbelievable going 3-0 with a .965 SV% and a 1.00 GAA. Thomas Wardle is the young back up who is 1-1 with an .886 SV% and a 4.00 GAA.

Assistant Coach Derek Sweet Coulter says that the Cents can take rough games, but two things can't be in doubt.

"Effort and Attitude need to be there every game, and those are well within our control. We need to bring both to get the win tonight."

The Cents will look to make life rough on the Express tonight.

Puck Drop 7:15pm, Pre-Game 7pm on Q101 and HockeyTV with Jared Thomas.

A reminder to sign up for the Centennials weekly online 50-50 where you can a toonie into over $200 here:



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Payton Matsui

(Photo - Garrett James)

The Merritt Centennials are gearing up for a mid-week showdown tonight in Coquitlam against the Express.

Before the bus left to head over the Coquihalla, Payton Matsui stopped by Q101 for five good minutes to discuss the team's first win, taking a leadership role with the club, and an old nickname of teammate Spencer Schneider from their days playing minor hockey in Minnesota together.

After splitting a pair of weekend contests Payton discussed some positives.

“I think it’s knowing that we can play, getting that first win was huge. Playing the way we should be playing and knowing that we can score even strength. Taking it to a team and dominating,” said Payton.

This week at practice Barry Wolff has had the boys working hard in battle drills, an area Payton agrees the team could improve.

“Work ethic, in the corners battling, first to the puck, 50-50 battles. Getting a better sense of where you want to be in the mix,” added Payton.

The turning point of their win on Friday night was a massive penalty kill in the second period, which seemed to swing momentum in the Cents favour.

“First off we need to stop taking penalties, that’s a big thing. I think when you’re confident on the kill, that confidence carries over to 5-on-5 and makes it easier to play,” said Payton.

The team has yet to name an official leadership group, but that hasn’t stopped Payton from stepping up to fill that role.

“I’ve talked with Barry and him and Derek agreed I should be a leader vocally and, on the ice,” began Payton. “I think it’s the way I carry myself, always being there for the team. Just working hard, being a leader.”

The forward lines have been in the blender a little bit to open the season with Coach Wolff looking for a spark, for Payton he’s found some early chemistry with a couple of wingers.

“I think I have a lot of chemistry with Spencer Schneider because for one he’s my roommate, but I’ve known him since I was 11. So, I know how he plays, he knows how I play,” said Payton. “Also, Matt Osadick, when we play together it’s just speed on speed, and then we build off of each other.”

Spencer and Payton played minor hockey together back in Minnesota.

“When we were younger his nickname was actually Herb after Herb Brooks. We called him that because during AAA hockey he did the Herb Brooks speech one time and our coach started calling him Herb and it stuck,” said Payton.

Catch Payton and Herb on Q101 tonight at 7 PM as they face the Express in Coquitlam.


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On Twitter: @Q101Merritt

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The Merritt Centennials were looking to avenge their opening night loss against the Wenatchee Wild in their first road game of the season, but couldn’t manage to replicate the effort of last night in a 5-2 loss.

Once again it was a shaky start by the Centennials who fell behind early after Matt Dorsey skated the puck into the zone and drove the slot of the Wild. The Cents fended him off, but the puck was loose in the danger zone, and Dallas Farell found it first and beat Ryan Winter down low to make it 1-0. The Cents then went to the penalty kill and the Wild, despite only scoring once on the powerplay all year were able to set up a goal from Trevor Greibel to make it 2-0. The Wild did their best to keep play in the Centennials side of the ice for the majority of the period, and majority of the game as after 1 the shots were 16-8 in their favour.

The 2nd period began with the Cents in the box again, and they were able to kill off the penalty, but went right back to the box afterwards. As the Wild powerplay expired their leading scorer, Nick Cafarelli was left alone to the side of the net and he walked in and sniped top shelf to make it 3-0. The Cents were able to answer just 19 seconds later after Vincent Guy caused a turnover, Brett Roloson collected the puck and found a streaking Daniel Tkac who went up and over the hulking Noah Altman to make it 3-1. Despite getting a goal in the period the Cents would only muster 5 shots on net, and the shot totals after 2 were 35-13 in favour of the Wild.

The final frame began with the Wild drawing another penalty, but this time the Cents pressured on the penalty kill and caused a 2-on-0 breakaway and despite Van Unen firing it wide, the Cents kept digging for the loose puck forcing the Wild defender to cover his hand over the puck. It led to a Cents penalty shot, and just like in the preseason, Daniel Tkac pulled off a ‘no-move’ from the hash marks and dangled late to get it past the toe of Altman and make it 3-2. The Cents had an opportunity to salvage the game after getting thoroughly out shot, but another late penalty gave the Wild another opportunity and Cafarelli got his 2nd of the game. Captain Brian Adams iced the game with an empty netter for the Wild and the Cents fell 5-2. Winter made 47 saves on 51 shots against in the losing effort, and the Cents were outshot 52-19.

After the game, Assistant Coach Derek Sweet Coulter said that the Cents may not always get the result they want every night, but two things can’t be left in doubt.

“There’s chances that miss here and there, and there’s bounces that don’t go your way, but two things that are always in your control are your effort and your attitude and I don’t think we brought the right amount of either tonight.”

The Cents look to reset ahead of a mid-week matchup against the Coquitlam Express on Wednesday night.

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Cent vs West K

Cents win.

After starting the season 0-3, the Centennials finally put together a near 60-minute effort to beat the West Kelowna Warriors, 4-2 last night at the NVMA.

Positives –

Bounce back performance for Winter. After allowing 11 goals last weekend through five periods of work, Ryan Winter was needed a solid outing, especially with Head Coach Barry Wolff trading for a new netminder mid-week. Winter allowed two earlier goals but settled in from there stopping the final 36 shots he faced.

Balanced attack. Not only did the Cents pick up the win, but they also did so with all four lines contributing. In the first period, it was the Brett Roloson, Vincent Guy, and Daniel Tkac line dominating the play. The ‘ex-energy line’ combined for 2G and 1A. Then in the second period the combo of Rylan Van Unen, Matt Osadick and Thomas Manty controlling play. Manty would net his first BCHL goal winner on a slick feed from Osadick.

Monkey off their back. No longer do the Cents have to look at the standing and see a 0 in the win column. Not only that but a few players, like Osadick, finally found the scoresheet, hopefully sparking them for weeks to come.

And with three 5-on-5 goals, I should be able to stop complaining about the even-strength play for at least a little while.

Negatives –

Discipline, discipline, discipline. Only 30 seconds into the contest, Merritt found themselves shorthanded following a boarding penalty to Troy Quinn, and low and behold West K scored. In the second Olsen Werenka toke a sloppy slashing penalty, which ended up being a positive as the Cents gained all the momentum and turned the game 180 after the kill. Werenka would then hit the showers early after an ill-advised fight (they called it roughing plus a misconduct) with the Cents up a man.

Merritt plays their first road game of the year tonight in Wenatchee versus the Wild. In their only previous meeting, the wild won 3-1 at the NVMA. Catch all the action on Q101 at 6:45 with Jared Thomas.


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On Twitter: @Q101Merritt

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