Merritt Centennials
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The Merritt Centennials (1-3) look to stay hot tonight against the Interior Division leading Wenatchee Wild (4-0-0-1).

The Centennials are coming off their best effort of the year thus far last night that saw them pick up their first win of the season. After surrendering an early powerplay goal, the Cents tied the game when Brett Roloson batted home a rebound. The Warriors regained the lead when an odd bounce at center sprung Lucas Cullen in all alone to make it 2-1 Warriors. After that Ryan Winter and the Centennials settled down, but couldn't find the scoresheet in the remainder of the first. The Cents started the 2nd period on the penalty kill again, but this time killed it perfectly and it led to a huge momentum swing that saw Merritt on the forefoot for the majority of the period. For the first time this season, three newcomers combined for a goal with Troy Quinn feeding a pass up the wall, Matt Osadick floating an area pass forward for Manty, and Manty roofing it glove side on the powerplay to tie the game. The game went to the third tied at 2 and the Cents came out on a mission to win, their pressure paid off with a knuckle puck goal from Daniel Tkac and a bank play off the end boards between Joey Berkopec and Payton Matsui to give the Cents a two goal edge that they didn't relinquish for their first win of the season 4-2.

The Wenatchee Wild opened the season with a 3-1 against the Merritt Centennials and since then haven't really looked back. After starting the season with cautious optimism, the Wild now find themselves atop the Interior with wins against West Kelowna, Vernon, and Trail since the season opener. Their lone blemish is a shootout loss at the hands of the Vipers that came last weekend. Last night they were able to handle the now 7th place in the Interior Smoke Eaters by a score of 3-1. Brett Chorske and Brian Adams scored in periods 1 and 2 to make it a 2-1 game heading into the third, and much like the season opener against the Cents it was a late empty netter by Adams that was the difference maker.

The Cents are looking to avenge their home opening loss tonight. In that game, Vincent Guy opened the scoring on the powerplay, but the Wild Captain Adams tied the game late in the first. In the second, Cafarelli dangled in and beat Winter short side on the powerplay, and despite a push by the Centennials late in the game, the Wild hung on with an empty netter to win the game 3-1.

The Wild haven't been blowing teams out of the water en route to their early Interior Division lead, they've been winning tight one goal games. Other than some empty net insurance, every game Wenatchee has been involved in this season has been a one-goal game. The Centennials are looking to build on their first win, and their first game where they potted more than 3 goals.

The special teams battle sees the teams split the difference once again as the Cents continue to roll on the powerplay, but the Wild have been solid on the PK.

Powerplay:                                    Penalty Kill:

Cents - 23.5% (6th)                  Cents - 72.7% (14th)

Wild - 5.6% (16th)                     Wild - 90% (4th)

After what feels like an offensive explosion, the Cents are now led by Daniel Tkac with 4 points, while Brett Roloson and Troy Quinn have 3 apiece.

The Wild are led by Nick Cafarelli with 6 points, while Captain Brian Adams and Tyler Young have 4 points.

The goaltender duel sees Ryan Winter starting to bounce back, but he now has Tanner Marshall waiting in the wings. Winter is 1-3 with an .899 SV% and a 4.09 GAA. Marshall spent last year with the Brooks Bandits and was 12-0 with a 1.33 GAA and a .925 SV%.

The Wild have been riding Daniel Chenard so far this season. He is 4-0 with a 1.77 GAA and a .941 SV% - he is also a former National Champion.

Assistant Coach Derek Sweet Coulter said after last night that he wants to see the energy carry over to tonight's game.

"I felt some of our guys reached another gear, and that along with our overall pressure is what I want to see us bring against Wenatchee."

The Cents will look to bring the energy tonight and string together their first two wins of the season.

Puck drop 7pm from the Town Toyota Centre in Wenatchee. Pre-Game 6:45 on Q101 and Hockey TV with Jared Thomas.

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The Merritt Centennials and Ryan Winter found themselves in a hole early in the game, but faced the adversity head on and prevailed over 60 minutes in a 4-2 win.

The game didn't start well for the home side as Troy Quinn went off for boarding just 30 seconds into the game. It took the Warriors and Levi Stauber just 6 second to capitalize on a point shot past Winter to make it a 1-0 game. The Cents bounced back with a rebound goal from Brett Roloson in front to tie the game just over 2 minutes later, however, the Warriors regained the lead after a crazy bounce at centre ice saw the Centennials over skate the puck and Lucas Cullen with a clear cut breakaway from the blue line. The Warriors leading scorer wasted no time beating Winter with a nifty move to the backhand to make it 2-1. Winter had allowed 2 goals on his first three shots, but him and the Centennials settled down the rest of the way. Despite being heavily out shot, 19-9, in the period, the Cents kept within 1.

In the middle frame, Merritt looked like a team reborn and came out flying. Once again they took an early penalty, but this time they killed it off cleanly and seized momentum from it. Moving forward it was the Cents with all the pressure and the Warriors that were hanging on. 5 minutes into the period, Declan Douthart went to the box, and the Cents were able to make good on their first powerplay of the game. For the first time this season, 3 newcomers combined on the effort as Troy Quinn fed it up the left side wall to Matt Osadick, who feathered a beautiful area pass forward for Thomas Manty, who roofed it glove high on Johnny Derrick to tie the game. Despite throwing 19 shots on net to the Warriors 6 in the period, the Cents couldn't get the go ahead.

The third was a bit more evenly matched, but the Cents managed to capitalize on their chances and finally get some bounces going their way. Daniel Tkac scored just over 3 minutes in when he found a loose puck at the top of the left circle, spun, and fired a floater that baffled Derrick up high. The offspeed pitch was his first goal of the season. Midway through the frame the Cents broke out on a rush down the ice. Joey Berkopec was flying up the right side when his 'shot' went wide and the lively boards at the NVMA bounced the puck right on to the stick of a streaking Matsui to make it 4-2. The Cents did well to keep the forecheck going throughout the remainder of the game to hang on for their first win of the season. Ryan Winter stopped 37/39 shots he faced for his first win of the year, and Johnny Derrick stopped 42/46 in the loss.

After the game, Assistant Coach Derek Sweet Coulter said the boys battled out there.

"I think early on we had to grind through the adversity, and then in the 2nd period our guys took it to another level. I think we saw what our team can be if everyone is working their hardest."

The Cents will look to string two wins together when they take on the Wenatchee Wild tomorrow night at the Town Toyota Centre in Wenatchee.


3RD STAR: Thomas Manty 1G 0A

2ND STAR: Daniel Tkac 1G 1A

1ST STAR: Brett Roloson 1G 0A

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The 7th in the Interior Division Merritt Centennials (0-3) take on the 5th place West Kelowna Warriors (1-3-1) at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena tonight.

The Centennials are coming off a pair of losses last weekend where the team was outscored 12-4. Penticton pounced early and often in the Cents Friday night match up racking up a 7-1 score over 2 periods of play before the Cents came to life in the third to make it a somewhat respectable 7-3 final. The Cents got goals from Rylan Van Unen, Brett Roloson, and Troy Quinn in the losing effort. The following night against the Victoria Grizzlies the Cents came out with a much better effort as both teams exchanged goals on the powerplay in the first period. Olson Werenka tallied for the Cents on the man advantage which remains a bright spot early in the season. In the second period, the Cents threw everything and the kitchen sink at Grizzlies goalie Joe Howe but were unable to beat the Victoria netminder and surrendered an unfortunate shorthanded goal. The Cents were hoping to hit the comeback trail in the 3rd, but were met with 3 unanswered Grizzlies goals including an empty netter. The first was a miscue in the offensive zone that hopped the stick of Troy Quinn and sprung the Grizzlies forward in on a breakaway, the second of the period came on a week off-speed backhander that baffled Winter. The Cents continue to search for the elusive first win of the season.

West Kelowna comes in after picking up their first points of the season last week. They dropped three straight games in their triple header to open the season, but bounced back with solid efforts against the Langley Rivermen and the Victoria Grizzlies. The Warriors were able to outscore the Rivermen 8-5 for their first win of the season, and then got unlucky in overtime in a loss to the Grizzlies and fell 3-2. The Warriors come into the game hungry to pick up more precious points in the Interior Division.

Head-to-head it's Warriors who have the edge in offense. The Cents have been snake bitten to start the year with only 5 goals over 3 games - missed chances, solid goaltending, and some stick squeezing seem to be the culprits early. The Warriors despite their record have no shortage of offense as they've scored 17 times this season - 2nd most in the division, but they've also allowed 21 goals which is also good enough for 2nd most in the Interior.

The Cents have been busy this week making four separate roster moves. They've added goaltender Tanner Marshall to the mix from the Brooks Bandits of the AJHL. Last season Marshall was a perfect 12-0 with the best team in the nation, and he's spent time in the BCHL with the Trail Smoke Eaters. In a subsequent move, the Cents shipped Dylan Kosik to the Fort Frances Lakers of the SIJHL for future considerations. The team also made a pair of WHL signings grabbing Tyson Galloway from the Calgary Hitmen system, and signing Jerzy Orchard from the Kamloops Blazers. Head Coach Wolff is doing all he can to try and shake up the roster to produce a win.

The teams split the special teams battle with the Centennials having the edge on the PP while the Warriors have been better short a man.

Powerplay:                           Penalty Kill:

Cents - 23.1% (9th)         Cents - 72.2% (14th)

WK - 14.3% (12th)          WK - 76.5% (11th)

The Cents are led by four players that have picked up a couple points over the first three games: Brett Rolson, Olson Werenka, Daniel Tkac, and Talon Zakall.

The Warriors have a couple players who are in the league's top 20 early in Lucas Cullen with 6 points for 14th league wide, and Levi Stauber for 16th with 5 points. 2nd year forward Brandon Dent has 4 points.

The battle between the blue paint sees the Cents with a solid option. Ryan Winter is 0-3 to start the year with an .882 SV% and a 4.88 GAA. Tanner Marshall comes in from the defending national champion Brooks Bandits where he had a 12-0 record, a sparkling 1.33 GAA and a .925 SV% - mind you on a very over powered Bandits club that outclassed the rest of the AJHL.

The Warriors turn to returner Brock Baier in net as he sports a 1-3 record with an .890 SV% and a 3.93 GAA to start the year. Johnny Derrick is 0-1 with a .929 SV% and a 3.05 GAA.

Assistant Coach Derek Sweet Coulter says the Cents are just some puck luck away from their first win.

"I feel like the puck luck early on hasn't gone our way. We've had a number of chances, but we are squeezing the stick too tight."

The Cents hope that tonight the puck luck is with them en route to their first victory of the season.

Puck Drop 7pm from the NVMA. Pre-Game at 6:45 on Q101 and Hockey TV with Jared Thomas and Michael Reeve.

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(Photo credit – Garrett James)

It’s been a busy week in Cents land with Head Coach and GM Barry Wolff swinging a pair of trades. First acquiring goalie Tanner Marshall from the reigning Junior A champion Brooks Bandits, then trading backup tender Dylan Kosik Fort Frances.

As we enter the third weekend of the regular season, the Merritt Centennials are still searching for that first W.

Merritt will play its first road game on Saturday in Wenatchee, but before that the West Kelowna Warriors are at the NVMA this evening.

This week the longest-tenured Centennial, Rylan Van Unen, stopped by Q101 for five good minutes.

Despite the 0-3 record, there are still plenty of positives to be taken from the first two weeks of the season.

“We’re in the right spots, we’re getting stuff done, we’re getting scoring chances, they’re just not going in right now,” said Rylan.

That being said, there’s always room for improvement.

“Being better in our defensive-end, making the right decisions. We’re on our way to doing the right stuff, we’re just one step behind right now,” said Rylan.

With only eight returning players this season, the Cents have been forced to completely turn over their roster. A new team means building new relationships and creating chemistry with players on and off the ice.

“The room has been really good. All the new guys that have come in have meshed in really well with everyone. Everyone gets along, there are not any guys bickering at each other,” said Rylan.

The newest guy joining the locker room is Marshall, and Rylan gave us a little scouting report of the new tender.

“He’s a nice guy, he’s doing really well in the net too,” said Rylan. “I don’t know much about goalies, but he looks like he’s really good positionally. (I’d shoot) maybe blocker side, he looks like he has got a good glove.”

Every Barry Wolff practice has a similar trait, players must complete 20 push-ups and 40 sit-ups during their stretches.

“We’ve been doing a lot of flow stuff this week. Getting into the habit of passing while we’re moving, and skating lots. But like every other week, hard work comes first in practice,” said Rylan.

Last year it was Mike and Rylan playing together, Mike has gone of the NCAA and in his place has come younger brother, Josh, for the Van Unen’s Cents hockey is a family affair.

“It’s really nice, you know you have somebody you can hang out with, or whatever you need. It’s good to have someone around,” said Rylan.

Catch Rylan and the rest of the Cents tonight at the NVMA vs West K, puck drop 7 pm.


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On Twitter: @Q101Merritt

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galloway orchard

As the WHL season is set to begin tomorrow, teams in the 'Dub' are finalizing their rosters and making their final cuts.

Cents Head Coach and GM Barry Wolff has managed to wrangle two new players for the squad, an 18-year-old forward from the Kamloops Blazers and a 16-year-old defenseman from the Calgary Hitman.

The forward is Jerzy Orchard who made it into 41 games last year with the Blazers recording 3 points while playing fourth-line minutes.

“He played there last year with the Blazers, and kind of one of those guys in and out of the lineup. Didn’t get a whole lot of ice at times. He brings that experience with him. We’re looking to get better and he makes us better,” said Barry.

Jon Keen, the Blazers play-by-play man, gave Q101 a bit of a scouting report on the member of the ‘All name team’.

“Jerzy just kind of fell into a numbers game, where some young players just had to be kept this year. He can really fly, he’s quick, he’s got good hands. If he can take a step in Merritt and find his offensive flair, I think it’s going to be a good fit for him,” said Jon. “He’s looking for an opportunity. If he gets that opportunity, he’ll be able to show what he can do.”

The defenseman is Tyson Galloway, a player Barry has had a close eye on from his time with the Cents early in camp.

“Galloway came in today, he skated today, and we’ll see if we can get him in on the weekend. He was at our camp, so we kind of knew we had a chance to get him if things didn’t work out with the Hitmen,” said Barry.

At only 16, Galloway still has room to develop.

“He’s never played a year of junior hockey, so this will be his first experience at that. He did play some games last year in the WHL, so he has a little bit of experience there. This is a fast league and a lot different than the western league, it's going to be a learning curve for him,” said Barry.

With two new players on the roster, more moves could be in the works, as players on the bubble will have to impress to stick around.

“We just want to get better and if those guys make us better then obviously someone’s got to go. Which is the unfortunate part of the business, but that is the business,” concluded Barry.

Galloway could factor into this weekend doubleheader versus West Kelowna and at Wenatchee, while Orchard will likely not see action until Wednesday.


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On Twitter: @Q101Merritt

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