Merritt Centennials
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The Cents came into their third game on the Island with a full belly because of a nice home-cooked meal at the Dal Monte residence, but they still showed enough hunger to beat the Cowichan Valley Capitals 4-0.

The game was full of a number of good storylines, but it started in the first with the Cents converting on the powerplay on a point shot from Tyrell Buckley that found its way through the crowd. Assists went to Zach Risteau and Zach Court who continued their hot play after being held off the scoresheet against Nanaimo.

The second period was when the Cents took it to the Capitals. Mathieu Gosselin got the two goal lead, when he was sprung on a breakaway by Tyrell Buckley, the Goose then proceeded to take a full fledged slap shot from between the hash marks and wired one past Mike Corson blocker side.

The good feels continued at the 15:08 mark when Mattias Dal Monte scored the first BCHL goal of his young career. The puck deflected back to the line, and he fired one off a defenseman and in. All in front of his clan of supporters, his mom, dad, and grandparents who flew in from Kittimat to see him play this weekend.

Ashton Stockie found the scoresheet just 30 seconds later with some slick hands in front, he was able to make some moves and beat Corson high glove side to extend the lead to 4-0. The primary assist went to birthday boy Jackson Munro whose mom was also in the stands cheering on the Cents.

In the third the Cents were able to shut the door to give Austin Roden his second shutout of the season in front of his family.

After the game, Head Coach Joe Martin said that one player was playing for his family.

“Mathieu Gosselin wanted to come into this game and prove something. His brother was on this team as a 20 year old, and the Capitals traded him away. He wanted to prove the family name, and did it this afternoon.”

Cents next in action on Wednesday night at home against the Langley Rivermen. 7pm puckdrop.

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The Cents play their third game in three days as they have less than a 24-hour turnaround to get prepared for the game this afternoon against the Cowichan Valley Capitals.

Cents fans you may think you know pain and heartache as the Cents have lost their last 2, but the Capitals come into this game on an 8-game losing skid. It will be a battle for who has more desperation, and a will to win.

The Cents once again showed that will early in the game last night against the Clippers. They drew 5 penalties in the first period alone, but weren’t able to convert on any man advantages. The Clippers did manage to sneak one past Austin Roden in the first to make it 1-0.

The second saw the penalties begin to swing the other way, with the Clippers drawing 4 penalties to the Cents 1, but they weren’t having any luck with the man advantage either and the game went to the 3rd period 1-0.

An early powerplay in the third gave the Clippers a 2-0 lead, but Zach Zorn was able to get the Cents back within one with his speed and size on the outside, cutting to the net and putting a backhand shortside on Noah Featherstonehaugh Gowe to make it 2-1.

The Cents were fighting penalties all period, 6 in fact, and before they could pull the goalie for the equalizer in the final minute, the Clippers added another marker late to ice the game and take it 3-1.

The good news for Cents fans is that the Capitals have had an equally busy weekend. They fell to the West Kelowna Warriors 3-1 on Friday at home, and the Vancouver Grizzlies 7-2 at the Q Centre, so they will have the same amount of rest as Merritt.

The Capitals and Cents last met in late September where the Cents won their second game of the year 7-1. It’s been a long time since then, but Cowichan finds themselves still in the same position they’ve been in since that point 17th in the league.

Cowichan Valley is led by Troy Mactavish (37), Ty Pochipinski (34), and Tate Coughlin (30) up front. The Cents got one lone goal last night, Zach Zorn unassisted on shorthanded to move him into a tie for most shorthanded goals on the year with 5. Zach Risteau has the hot hand for the Cents. Since returning from the USHL, Risteau has 14 points in 13 games, and adds that extra skill on the Cents powerplay, and skill to whatever line he’s on. Henry Cleghorn has gone quiet for the Cents in the last week, and he’s a player the Cents need to start rolling again, if the team is going to start picking up wins.

The battle between the pipes will see the Caps turn to Michael Corson and JJ Pichette. Corson is 3-5 with a 91.6 SV% and a 3.20 GAA. Pichette is 4-12 with an 87.2 SV% and a 5.00 GAA. The Cents will decide between Jacob Berger and Austin Roden. Roden played phenomenal last night, but took the loss and is now 8-10-0-2 with a 92.4 SV%, a 2.71 GAA and 1 shutout.Berger is 12-21-2-0 with a 90.6 SV% and a 3.41 GAA with 2 shutouts.

The Capitals are a team that plays well on home ice, and they have the desperation of vying for a playoff spot on the line. The Cents will have to be hungrier if they want to come away with the W this afternoon.

Puck Drop 2pm, Pre-Game 1:45 with Jared Thomas on Q101.1FM or online at q101.ca.

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The Merritt Centennials and Nanaimo Clippers combined for a whopping 1/16 on the powerplay on Saturday night, but Nanaimo had more markers 5-on-5 to make the difference 3-1.

In the first, the Cents had some jump, but with the game scoreless 6 minutes in the Nanaimo Clippers broke the goose egg to make it 1-0 on a goal from Josh Bourne to the side of the net.

The Cents carried the play, and were forcing the Clippers to take penalties, as they had 5 opportunities on the powerplay in the first, but were unable to convert despite good puck movement.

It was a sleepy second period with no goals scored, part of that was due to a fearless play by Zach Court to block a shot face first. He was stitched up and returned to action before the end of the 2nd.

In the third, the Cents went to the box early, with Christian Sabin going to the box for tripping, and on that powerplay the Clippers were able to convert. Leading goalscorer Tristan Crozier was able to get one up high on Austin Roden who made his first start since returning from injury, and against his former club. That gave the Clippers the 2-0 lead.

Despite Chase Bell taking a tripping call at the 2:31 mark, Zach Zorn was able to convert on a short-handed partial breakaway. Driving wide on the left side, Zorn barrelled towards the net, made a move to the backhand and beat Noah Featherstonehaugh Gove short side mid-blocker to get the Cents back within one.

The Cents were plagued by penalties from the remainder of the period, but had an opportunity even strength for the final two minutes. The Cents didn’t get the opportunity to pull the goalie and push for the equalizer as Preston Brodziak was able to convert on an odd-man rush after Roden made the initial save.

Roden was sensational, especially in the third period when the Cents were shortmanned 6 times, but his efforts weren’t enough to spur the team onto a comeback.

After the game, Joe Martin felt despite the number of penalties in the third they were all justified.

“Sabin is digging for a loose puck, and trips someone. Chase Bell – the same thing. Tyrell Buckley is trying to stop a breakaway, Joey Berkopec is doing the same. Ashton Stockie is following through on a clearing attempt and catches someone up high.”

The Cents will try to stay out of the box and get onto the board with more regularity tomorrow afternoon in Duncan when the Cents square off against the Cowichan Valley Capitals.

Puck Drop 2pm, Pre-Game 1:45 on Q101.1FM or online at q101.ca

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The Merritt Centennials (19-25-4-1) continue the Island swing tonight in Nanaimo where they face one of the hottest teams in the BCHL in the Clippers (27-20-3-3).

The Cents are coming off a 7-4 loss last night to the Powell River Kings. A game that had a lot of swings of momentum. Merritt dominated the first period, but were a victim of a goal against the grain before Brendan Schneider tied the game 13 minutes into the first.

The second saw the counter attack loom large. Zach Risteau converted on an early period powerplay, but the Kings answered with 3 goals (one of them shorthanded), before Rylan Van Unen got the Cents back within one to make it 4-3. The period ended with the teams exchanging goals with the Cents on the man advantage. They surrendered another goal shortmanned before Nick Wicks converted on a late powerplay to head into the 3rd trailing 5-4.

In the third, the Cents had to kill off a double-minor to begin the period, and that set the tone for the remainder of the game. The Cents weren’t quite able to get going and the Kings added 2 more goals including an empty netter to take it 7-4.

Nanaimo is coming off a victory over the Wenatchee Wild last night where they came away with a 4-1 victory. Continuing their hot play of late, as they are unbeaten in 6 games in a row. Josh Bourne, David Silye, Brady Lynn, and Tristan Crozier had goals for the Clippers.

The last time these two teams met, was the last game before Christmas. Where the Cents finished their pre-Christmas push strong with a 4-2 win.

Since then, the Cents are playing another team that’s made a head coaching change. Long time Cents coach, then Clippers boss Mike Van de Kamp was let go shortly after Christmas when new ownership took over the team. Nanaimo is now run by Darren Naylor who comes from the highly successful Junior B’s Delta Ice Hawks.

The Clippers are led by Tristan Crozier who is 15th in league scoring with 52 points. He’s supported by Jake Harris (45), Parker Colley and David Silye (37), and Cal Babych (33).

The line of Risteau, Court, and Schneider remains red hot heading into tonights matchup. They’ve combined for 13 points over the last two games. Rylan Van Unen begun to pick up his game since his return from injury and now has 10 goals and 15 points.

The game will be a bit of a homecoming for Mattias Dal Monte, the Nanaimo native, as well as Austin Roden, who hails from Victoria but came over in a mid-season trade from Nanaimo.

The special teams battle sees the Clippers 5th in the league on the powerplay with a 20.4% conversion rate, while the Cents are now 8th with 19%. They scored two goals on the powerplay last night, but also surrendered two short handed goals. On the penalty kill, the Cents also 8th with an 81.8% kill rate, while the Clippers are tenth at 81.3%.

The goaltending battle will see Austin Roden suit up against his former club. He’s 8-9-0-2 with a 92.5 SV%, a 2.70 GAA, and 1 shutout. It will be his first game back since returning from injury. The Clippers will turn to the tandem of Taz Burman and Noah FeatherStonhaugh Gowe. Burman is 18-11-0-2 with a 91.5 SV%, a 2.66 GAA, and 1 shutout. Gowe is 7-7 with an 89.4 SV%, 3.42 GAA, and 1 shutout.

The Cents will hope to right the ship against the Clippers tonight.

Puck drop 6pm, Pre-Game 5:45 on Q101.1FM or online at q101.ca  

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The game was tied with the familiar score line of 1-1 after 1, then the second hit. Goals were coming like rapid fire, bing, bang, boom. It wasn’t all good for the Cents though as they trailed 5-4 after 2, and ended up falling 7-4 by the end of the game.

The first started late due to a pre-game ceremony which honored outgoing BCHL Commissioner John Grisdale, but the period flew by due to the fact their were no penalties.

Powell River opened the scoring with leading scorer Ben Berard doing the honors on a spin around shot that beat Jacob Berger short side.

The Cents found an answer midway through the first when Sam Miller led the rush into the zone, dished to Zach Court on the left side, who found Brendan Schneider on the way to the slot, and he took his time and fired one up high on AP Alex Rolfe who made the start for the Kings.

The second saw the Cents get the first powerplay of the game a minute into the period, and at the 2:22 mark Zach Risteau ripped a wrister up high on Rolfe after being set up by Schneider.

40 seconds later, Neal Samanski answered for the Kings on a move in tight to tie things at 2.

The Kings regained the lead 2 minutes later with Berard notching his second of the game to make it 3-2.

The Cents then had another powerplay opportunity, but surrendered a partial breakaway and Ethan Kimball scored shorthanded.

Rylan Van Unen was able to use his speed on the outside to bring the Cents back within one, and to halt the Kings 3 goal swing.

The Kings restored the two goal lead with another shorthanded goal from Kimball.

The Cents were able to answer before the period was out, when Nick Wicks threw a shot on from the left side of the ice that just found its way through Rolfe to make it 5-4.

At the end of the second, Joey Berkopec drew a 4-minute double minor for spearing, and the Cents killed off the whole thing.

7 minutes into the third, Hunter Findlater restored the two goal lead once more for the Kings, and they didn’t look back. Nick Abbot added an empty netter for a final score of 7-4.

The Cents went 2/4 on the powerplay, but on the two chances where they didn’t convert, they surrendered shorthanded goals.

It was the first game the Cents have surrendered 2 shorthanded goals this season.

Head Coach Joe Martin felt the game had a lot of oddities.

“We don’t usually score 4, but we don’t usually give up 7. If we had played the whole game defensively with the same passion we attacked that double-minor in the beginning of the third we would’ve won the game.”

No rest for the wicked as the Cents are right back at it tomorrow against the Nanaimo Clippers. Puck Drop 6pm, Pre-Game at 5:45.

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