With the World Junior A Challenge approaching, forward for the Merritt Centennials Rylan Van Unen has made it through selection camp in Calgary for Team Canada West and will be part of the main roster heading to Truro in Nova Scotia.
Head Coach of the Cents and Assistant Coach with Team Canada West Joe Martin says that Van Unen played his was onto the team.
"He played a simple game, finished a lot of body checks, scored a few goals on the second day of camp, his line was one of the best lines if not the best line that day, and that was impressive."
Through 26 games this season Van Unen has 12 points and is 3rd on the team in goals with 8.
Van Unen will get his next chance to impress when Team Canada West begins its quest for a 5th Gold medal against the Czech Republic on December 10.
Merritt Centennials forward Zach Zorn has earned another honorable mention nod for his stellar play over the weekend.
Over the weekend, Zorn had 3 goals, 1 assist, all scored on special teams. Two of the markers came shorthanded, the other on the powerplay, and one was a game winning goal as well.
For his efforts Zorn was named first and second star.
This is Zorn's second honorable mention of the season for the BCHL Player of the Week.
Mckullen Astill has been traded to Humbolt of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League for future considerations.
Assistant General Manager Matt Sampson says that Astill didn't pan out like the team hoped he would.
"We were hoping he was going to be a top six player for us, a top nine at worst, and you saw flashes of it but he wasn't able to produce the way we thought he would. He's a good player, but it didn't make sense to keep him in the lineup when he wasn't playing very much."
In 15 games with the Centennials, Astill managed one assist and 2 penalty minutes.
The Cents played strong in the first and third, and Berger was there to pick them up in second stopping 41 shots for the shutout and guiding Merritt to a 4-0 win over the Smoke Eaters.
The game began in earnest on a bit of a weird one by Christian Sabin, he deflected a Matt Kopperud backhander past Marshall to make it 1-0 at the 4:35 mark.
Chase Bell made it 2-0 at the 7:04 mark after Matthieu Gosselin streaked down the right wing with speed, looped below the goal line and fed it out front where Bell one-timed it past Tanner Marshall.
The Cents would get in a bit of penalty trouble to end the period, and that would set the stage for a long second period where the Cents were short manned through long stretches and were outshot 16-2. If not for stellar goaltending from Berger, and a goal line sweeping play by Mike Van Unen, Trail could have done more damage in the second.
In the third, the Cents returned to themselves a little more, and despite going down a man early in the third Zach Zorn and Henry Cleghorn were able to combine on a short handed 2-on-0 to make it 3-0. Cleghorn stripped his man at the blue line and skated onto the puck on the left side, and Zorn got open on the right side to get the puck between the hash marks and beat Marshall with a nifty wrister.
Zorn would add another on the powerplay, taking it out of the nearside corner and driving to the net, before tucking it five hole on Marshall for the final goal of the game.
From then on the Cents hung on to the lead, helping Berger secure the shutout.
The Cents have now won three in a row for the first time since their first wins of the season, and have moved into a tie with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks for 6th in the standings of the Interior Division.
Acting Head Coach Matt Sampson said the Cents are focusing on their game right now.
“We really want to focus on us, and get back to practice and prepare, and be harder to play against at home. It’s disappointing to be under .500 at home and we want to get back to that, and it starts next weekend.”
The Cents will look to get their first 4 game win streak of the season next week against the Wenatchee Wild and keep it going against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
The Cents have strung together two wins in a row as they are in Trail tonight to take on the Smoke Eaters.
The Cents are seeing both the Warriors and Smoke Eaters for the second weekend in the row. They beat Trail last week in a thrilling 3-2 OT win. After falling 2-0, Brad Cocca made it 2-1 in the final minute of the second period to get the Cents within one. The Cents pressed during the third period, and final got the game tying goal courtesy an assist from the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena, a clear into the Smoke Eaters end, led to Brandon Wells going to play the puck, but the puck took a homeside bounce off the glass right to Brendan Schneider in front who put it into the empty net. In overtime, Zorn and Cleghorn combined to get the game winner, where a diving Cleghorn put it past a sprawled Wells to make it 3-2.
After a 7-4 win last night against the Warriors, the Cents are looking to string together three wins in a row for just the second time this season, they haven’t managed to do so since their first three wins of the season back in late September.
The Smoke Eaters were shortmanned last week with 5 men out due to injury, and they’ll be short some of their top guns in this one as they’re off to the World Junior A Challenge. Seth Barton, Ross Armour, and Levi Glasman will be off to Calgary tonight, pair that with injury trouble, and it could be a long night for trail. However, the injury shortened bench last weekend gave the Cents all they could handle, and Merritt was lucky to come away with the win in OT.
The Smoke Eaters have now slid to 3rd in the division with 40 points, but only 4 points separate the top 4 teams. The Centennials have an opportunity to catch the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, if the Cents manage a win, and the Silverbacks tally another regulation loss to break out of the bottom of the division for the first time this season.
Trail owns the 4th best powerplay in the league at 21.8% while the Cents have rallied to 8th with 20.5$, and on the penalty kill the teams are separated by only .2%, but with the Zorn goal last night Merritt has 8 short handed goals, while Trail only has 5.
In net the Cents will go with Jacob Berger tonight, but both Cents netminders are in the top 20 in the league statistically, and in the top ten based on save percentage. Berger is 8-11-2-0 with a 91.31 SV% and a 3.22 GAA. Trail could turn to Tanner Marshall or Brandon Wells in net. Marshall is 8-1 with a 90.8 SV% and a 3.24 GAA, while Wells took the loss last week against the Cents and is 11-9 with a 88.6 SV% and a 3.15 GAA.
As mentioned the Cents will look to make it three in a row for just the second time this season tonight against the Smoke Eaters.
Puck drop is at 7pm, Pre Game at 6:45 with Jared Thomas on Q101.1 FM or stream online at q101.ca.