Merritt Centennials
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The Merritt Centennials ran out of gas in the final game of a 4 in 5 stretch, and lost to the Victoria Grizzlies 4-1.

The Grizzlies shot out to an early lead courtesy their phenom Alex Newhook. He set up Riley Hughes on a 2-on-1 and then got a gift from a Centennials defender between the hash marks and beat Roden up high to make it 2-0. Christian Sabin answered for the Cents at the 9:32 mark to cut the lead in half and get the Cents back in the game, but they wouldn’t find any more offense on the night. Roden stopped 11 of 13 shots in the first.

In the second period, the Cents got into penalty trouble but were able to weather the Grizzlies storm and keep them off the scoresheet in that regard on the night as they went 0/6 on the powerplay. Newhook scored a goal later in the period to make it 3-1 after 2. Roden stopped 24/27 shots through 2.

In the final frame the Cents had plenty of chances, but no puck luck. Back door plays with the net wide open just missing the final connection, empty nets where the puck was put wide or over. In the end, Newhook found a shot through the crowd to make it 4-1. Roden stopped 35/38 as the Cents fell in their final leg of the Dad’s weekend.

After the game, Head Coach Joe Martin said the Cents just ran out of gas.

“We knew it was going to be difficult, but we just weren’t sharp – physically or mentally and made some mistakes up there.”

Next up are the Penticton Vees on Friday from Penticton. There’s still spots available on the Fan Bus so call Jared at 378-3604 if you’re interested.

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The Merritt Centennials (31-14-4-3) look to finish the Dad trip off with their 4th victory in a row against the 1st in the Island Division Victoria Grizzlies (32-16-0-4) this afternoon. 

The Cents are coming off another tidy effort against the Nanaimo Clippers last night. They survived a sleepy first and stormed out in the 2nd period scoring 2 goals before the 2 minute mark. Nick Granowicz scored on the back door, and Matt Kopperud scooped up a goal front scramble over Pavlisin to make it 2-0. The Clippers got a bounce in off of a Cents defender to make it 2-1 before Brady Ziemer slapped a back hand floater off the draw upstairs to make it 3-1. The Clippers didn't go away and narrowed the margin to 3-2, but Matt Kopperud regained the lead fresh out of the penalty box with a shot upstairs to make it 4-2 after 2. In the third, the Clippers got an early goal to make things interesting, but Payton Matsui pulled off an all effort goal picking up his own wrap around rebound in the slot to add the insurance and make it 5-3 the final. Austin Roden stopped 30/33 shots in his and the Cents 3rd win in a row. 

The Grizzlies are coming off a 4-1 win over the Wenatchee Wild last night, and are 3-0-2 in their last 5. The 2 losses have both come in the shootout. The Cents will have to keep their eye on a couple special players on Victoria including phenom Alex Newhook who leads the lead in scoring, Alex Campbell who's another prospect in this summers NHL draft and Riley Hughes who's already drafted by the New York Rangers. 

The season series sees the Cents with the edge 2-0. So far they've done a good job at shutting down the Grizzlies top guns in a 4-2 win at home and a 2-1 win at the BCHL Showcase. Defenseman Carter Berger has scored 2 goals, while Newhook and Hughes have only picked up an assist each. The game does have the potential to be a barn burner as these are the top two scoring teams in the BCHL. The Grizzlies have 200 goals-for while the Cents have 198. 

Brad Cocca picked up another assist last night and is up to 62 points on the season putting him back into the top 5 in BCHL scoring at 5th. Nick Granowicz and Nick Wicks are tied with 54 points, and after a very offensive night in the BCHL are sitting at 16th and 17th in the league. 

The Grizzlies and the BCHL are led by Alex Newhook who has 86 points, Alex Campbell has 60, and d-man Carter Berger has 56. 

The Grizzlies are one of the strongest teams in the league when it comes to special teams. 

Powerplay:                                               Penalty Kill: 

Vic - 21.4% (5th)                                   Vic - 85.5% (1st)

Cents - 19.2% (12th)                          Cents - 76.9% (13th)

In net Austin Roden is performing well with the pressure on. He's picked up 3 wins in a row and is now 22-7-3 with a .907 SV%, a 3.01 GAA, and 2 shutouts. Jackson Glassford continues to AP behind him as Vincent Duplessis is nursing a bit of a nagging injury sustained in practice. 

Kurtis Chapman has been the go-to guy in Victoria sporting a record of 23-9, a .937 SV%, a 2.39 GAA, and 4 shutouts. However, the Grizzlies have gotten back Zachary Rose from the injured list and he is 2-3 with a .919 SV% and a 3.02 GAA. 

Head Coach Joe Martin says the Grizzlies have a lot of options up front.

"They have a few special players for sure, and we will have to watch them closely, but if we can make them play defense I like our chances."

The Cents will hope that they use their options to full effect tonight. 

Puck Drop 4pm. Pre-Game 3:45 on Q101.1FM and with Jared Thomas. 

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It was two steps forward – one step back for the Merritt Centennials but they survived a see-saw battle against the Nanaimo Clippers 5-3.

The first period was an absolute snoozer on both sides of the puck, with both teams getting an opportunity on the powerplay and being unable to convert. Shots after 1 were 11-5 for the Cents with Austin Roden not seeing a whole lot of pucks early.

In the second period the Cents came to play. Nick Granowicz scored 55 seconds in after being found by Joey Berkopec back door to make it 1-0. Matt Kopperud scooped out a puck from the net front melee and popped it over Pavlisin to make it 2-0 under 2 minutes in. The Clippers got a lucky bounce in front off a Cents defender to make it 2-1. Then the Cents regained the two goal margin after Brady Ziemer slapped a backhander from the line to make it 3-1. The Clippers crawled back to make it 3-2 before Matt Kopperud came out of the box, and was set up by Cocca at the top of the left circle for a rifling wrist shot up stairs to make it 4-2.

In the third, the Clippers scored early to make things tight 4-3 before Payton Matsui ended up giving the Cents some insurance with a hard nosed goal. Going in for a wraparound then collecting his own rebound to make it 5-3.

After the game, Head Coach Joe Martin said the Cents found their way after they started playing their way.

“We kind of got sucked into playing their style in the first, but we brought some Cents hockey early in the 2nd and it paid dividends.”

Next up is the Victoria Grizzlies tomorrow afternoon at 4pm.

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The 2nd in the Interior Merritt Centennials (30-14-4-3) continue their Island swing against the Nanaimo Clippers (25-26-1-0) tonight. 

The Centennials are coming off a rough game in Powell River, but they were able to prevail due to their cooler heads. There were dangerous plays made against Payton Matsui, Mike Van Unen, and Nick Wicks, but all of them came back to action last night, and it was a complete team effort for the win. The Kings had the early edge on the powerplay scoring two first period goals, but Vincent Guy scored at even strength to make it 2-1 after 1. Matt Kopperud got the lone goal of the second period on a two-man advantage to tie the game heading into the final frame. With some penalty time for a checking from behind major to Van Unen from the 2nd carrying over to the third, the Cents were able to score an early goal. Christian Sabin got knocked down in the corner, but got up, dusted himself off, and chipped home a pass in front to give the Cents a 3-2 lead. Powell River tied things up on a shorthanded chance, but on that same powerplay Brad Cocca was able to clap a one-timer to make it 4-3. Cocca also got in on the empty netter to end the game, setting up Nick Granowicz to ice the game and the win 5-3. Austin Roden stopped 30/33 shots and picked up his 2nd win in a row, and will go again tonight. 

The Clippers have been making a bit of a surge of late. They went on a 10 game win streak to bring them back to respectability and 3rd spot in the Island Division, and are playing some of their best hockey of late. They, like the Cents, are 3-1-1 in their last 5 games played with their most recent action coming against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. They beat the Dogs last night 6-5 in regulation. 

The only time these two teams met this season was back in December, and it was the Cents who picked up the W 5-1. Austin Roden had his shutout bid broken midway through the 3rd and the Cents had a strong offensive effort from Cocca, Kopperud, and Wicks in that game. 

Cocca is returning to the form that saw him shoot up the BCHL scoring lead picking up 6 points in his last 2 games. He tallied 1 goal and 2 assists last night and is up to 61 on the year. Nick Granowicz and Nick Wicks are keeping pace with 53 points a piece, and Mathieu Gosselin is in the top 20 league wide with 51 points. 

The Clippers are led by Ethan Scardina who has 48 points. rookie Tyler Williams has 44 points, and Captain Marcus Mitchell has 39 points. 

The special teams battle sees both teams struggling on the penalty kill, but both having respectable powerplays. 

Powerplay:                               Penalty Kill: 

Cents - 19.4% (10th)          Cents - 76.7% (14th) 

Clips - 20.5% (6th)               Clips - 75.7% (15th)

In net Austin Roden is the go to guy with Vincent Duplessis suffering an injury in practice. Roden is now 21-7-3 with a .907 SV%, a 3.01 GAA and 2 shutouts. Jackson Glassford is the affiliate player called up to be in the wings. 

Jordan Naylor is 17-16 with a .900 SV% and a 3.25 GAA. Landon Pavlisin is 8-11 with a .900 SV% and a 3.44 GAA. 

Head Coach Joe Martin knows that this game has the potential to get out of hand as well.

"The Clippers play a hard edged game, and have some players that can move. We need to have the same kind of effort we had against the Kings, and play smart to not get sucked in to the silly stuff."

The Cents will try and pick up their 3rd win in a row tonight. 

Puck Drop 7pm. Pre-Game 6:45 on Q101.1FM and with Jared Thomas. 

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The Merritt Centennials kept their cool and crowned the Kings by a score of 5-3.

In the first period the Kings struck first on a two man advantage, and it was Ryan Brushett to make it 1-0. The Cents found the answer with Vincent Guy after Frazer Dodd turned the puck over to tie the game at 1-1. The Kings regained the lead on a PP goal to lead 2-1 after 1.

In the middle frame, the Cents got the lone goal from Matt Kopperud on a two man advantage to tie the game 2-2 after 2.

The Cents converted early in the third period on the powerplay when Christian Sabin took a hit in the corner, got back up, went to the net, and banged in a pass from Cocca to give the Cents their first lead 3-2. The lead didn’t last long as on the next powerplay opportunity the Kings scored shorthanded. The Cents answered just 30 seconds later on the same powerplay when Cocca got a one-time past Adamyk to restore the one goal lead 4-3. Nick Granowicz iced the game with an empty netter in the final minute to make it a 5-3 final.

Austin Roden stopped 30/33 shots for the win.

After the game, Head Coach Joe Martin praised the team for keeping their cool.

“Powell River got a little undisciplined, and we really did well to not get sucked into their game.”

Next up the Nanaimo Clippers tomorrow night.

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