The Merritt Centennials (1-5) get set for their first back to back and their first ever meeting with the expansion Cranbrook Bucks (3-4-1) tonight.
The Centennials are coming off the heels of a heartbreaker to the Trail Smoke Eaters last night that saw them fall 7-6. The Merritt Centennials pushed the pace and pushed the Smoke Eaters to the brink, but in the end a blip in the second period came back to bite the Cents as they fell 7-6 in Trail. The first period saw the Cents playing some of their best hockey of the preseason. They were putting the pressure on, putting bodies to the ice, and putting pucks in the net. A pair of goals from Talon Zakall saw the game end up level at 2-2 after 1. The Centennials continued the attack in the second period and were pressing for the go ahead goal in for the first 7 minutes. Unfortunately, they couldn't find it and the Smoke Eaters got a gift off an own goal that was credited to Noah Wakeford. Chase Dafoe added another goal within a minute, and then the Centennials took a double-minor and Cody Schiavon was able to score on the powerplay. Before the Centennials could get back to their hard working ways Connor Sweeney added a lazy backhander that picked the top corner over Colton Phillips-Watts and unfortunately for the rookie tender his night was over in favour of Josh Dias. With the goaltender change the Centennials were able to recapture momentum and came back at the Smoke Eaters. Walker Erickson cashed in on a goal, Ben Ward crashed the blue paint for a goal, and Erickson added another late in the frame to make it 6-5 heading to the third. The work boots were on for the third period as well and the Cents were rewarded when Erickson found his third of the night by firing a rebound past Terness to make it 6-6 five minutes into the frame. The Centennials sat back for a while before they tried to pull up their socks for the game winning goal. The game was looking fated for overtime when a 50/50 call went the Smoke Eaters way for goaltender interference. On the powerplay Sweeney was able to add his second of the night and the Smoke Eaters were able to hang on for the win 7-6.
The Cranbrook Bucks are coming off a double-header against the Prince George Spruce Kings and the expansion franchise earned themselves a split. They were able to score a 6-2 stomping in game 1, but the Spruce Kings held them to a 2-1 loss in game 2. The 6-2 victory saw the franchises first hat trick scored by Dane Dowiak, and the Bucks are quickly crafting an identity as a high speed, high skill team, that likes to work their systems and work hard. The Centennials will have to play a tight game to keep them at bay, but may have an advantage when it comes to physical play against the Bucks.
The Centennials will hope that the confidence and belief that they built up last night in Trail follows them through to the contest tonight. The team hit it's high water mark in goals scored, in fact they matched their entire offensives output for the preseason in one game. Walker Erickson had a break out game, and a number of Centennials were in on the offense. If the Cents can capture that feeling in a bottle they will be set for Cranbrook.
The Centennials now have a 6 way tie for the team lead in points with 4. Walker Erickson, Ben Ward, Talon Zakall, Grayson Valente, Jerzy Orchard and Trevor Isaksson all sharing the honor.
The Bucks are led by Dane Dowiak up front with 14 points, Captain Briggs Gamill has 10 points, and Michael Hagen has 9 points.
The teams split the special teams battle with the Cents having the edge on the powerplay, but the Bucks having sway on the penalty kill.
Powerplay: Penalty Kill:
Cents - 13.3% (14th) Cents - 78.1% (12th)
Bucks - 7.7% (16th) Bucks - 86.1% (5th)
The goaltending duel sees the Cents not knowing what to do after Colton Phillips-Watts was pulled in last night's contest. He's now 1-1 with a .833 SV% and a 4.51 GAA. Josh Dias didn't face much action in relief and is now 0-4 with a .855 SV% and a 4.75 GAA.
The Bucks have a goaltending tandem their looking to nurture as well. Jacob Zacharewicz is 3-1 with a .908 SV%, a 2.36 GAA and 1 shutout while Nathan Airey is 0-2 with an .890 SV% and a 3.98 GAA.
Head Coach Derek Sweet Coulter said there were many positives to draw from last night.
"We did a great job of coming back, there's a confidence in that room now, there's a belief, if we can carry over this momentum, I like our chances."
The Centennials are hoping that they will go home with a positive in the win column tonight
Puck drop 6pm. 5:45 pregame show on Q101 and BCHLTV with Jared Thomas and Michael Reeve.
Watch party at Boston Pizza - make your reservation at 378-4222.
The Merritt Centennials pushed the pace and pushed the Smoke Eaters to the brink, but in the end a blip in the second period came back to bite the Cents as they fell 7-6 in Trail.
The first period saw the Cents playing some of their best hockey of the preseason. They were putting the pressure on, putting bodies to the ice, and putting pucks in the net. Despite Coalson Wolford tallying the opening goal after the Smoke Eaters held the line early in the game, the Cents tied the game on the powerplay. Talon Zakall was able to walk down from the left point, faked the shot, then sniped top corner blocker-side over Terness to level the score at 1. Zack Park was able to sneak past his man on the rush, and beat the defense to the net to make it a 2-1 game for Trail. However, again it was Zakall providing the offense this time with a seeing-eye shot through the bodies in front to find the back of the net and tie the game at 2's. That would be how the first period would end with the Centennials leading on the shot clock 12-9.
The Centennials continued the attack in the second period and were pressing for the go ahead goal in for the first 7 minutes. Unfortunately, they couldn't find it and the Smoke Eaters got a gift off an own goal that was credited to Noah Wakeford. Chase Dafoe added another goal within a minute, and then the Centennials took a double-minor and Cody Schiavon was able to score on the powerplay. Before the Centennials could get back to their hard working ways Connor Sweeney added a lazy backhander that picked the top corner over Colton Phillips-Watts and unfortunately for the rookie tender his night was over in favour of Josh Dias. With the goaltender change the Centennials were able to recapture momentum and came back at the Smoke Eaters. Walker Erickson cashed in on a goal, Ben Ward crashed the blue paint for a goal, and Erickson added another late in the frame to make it 6-5 heading to the third. Shots after 2 were 30-18 Cents.
The work boots were on for the third period as well and the Cents were rewarded when Erickson found his third of the night by firing a rebound past Terness to make it 6-6 five minutes into the frame. The Centennials sat back for a while before they tried to pull up their socks for the game winning goal. The game was looking fated for overtime when a 50/50 call went the Smoke Eaters way for goaltender interference. On the powerplay Sweeney was able to add his second of the night and the Smoke Eaters were able to hang on for the win.
After the game, Head Coach Derek Sweet Coulter said there were many positives to draw from, but at the end of the day you can't gift a team 4 goals and expect to win.
"We did a great job of coming back, there's a confidence in that room now, there's a belief, but this is the get it done league not the try hard league, and by giving them some goals in the second period we weren't able to get it done tonight. If we can carry over this momentum, I like our chances tomorrow."
The Merritt Centennials will face off against the Bucks for a 6PM puck drop tomorrow. 5:45 pregame show on Q101 and BCHLTV.
The Merritt Centennials (1-4) get set for a rematch against the Trail Smoke Eaters (6-2) tonight.
The Centennials will be looking for revenge, while the Smoke Eaters have played the Prince George Spruce Kings in between meetings. The Cents and Smoke Eaters were in a tight 1-0 game through 40 minutes last Thursday, a large part of the reason was due to the stellar play of Josh Dias. Through 2 periods the Centennials netminder had his head on a swivel and was denying all comers on chance after chance. Trail heavily outshot Merritt through 2 periods of play 25-14 and in the third period it finally started paying dividends. Just 14 seconds into the third the Smoke Eaters were able to sneak one past the guard of Dias and the game slowly unraveled from there. The Centennials took 5 minor penalties in the third period and added 4 misconducts as they were never able to get momentum going for a steady stretch. The Smokies showed no mercy adding 4 goals in the final frame and making it a 5-0 final.
The Smoke Eaters are coming off a tight 2-1 shootout win over the Prince George Spruce Kings on home ice where Zack Feaver scored late in the first frame, before Rowan Miller scored in the second. With no scoring in the third or overtime the game went the distance to the shootout where Chase Dafoe and Feaver added 2 goals to Christian Buono's one to lift the Smoke Eaters over the PG.
The Centennials will look to discover some offense as coming into the contest they have 6 goals over 5 games, and Head Coach Derek Sweet Coulter feels the goal scoring needs to come by way of committee as there's no established big gun on the Cents roster. The time on the road with a hotel stay will be a good opportunity for the team to bond, and will be made all the better if they can find a way to come together for some offense and some wins.
The Cents continue to be led by ex-Smoke Eater Trevor Isaksson with 3 points, while Ward, Orchard, and Valente have all tallied a pair.
The Smoke Eaters continue to be led by Connor Sweeney who has 8 points. Connor Michaud and Captain Cody Schiavon have added 6 points, while Dafoe, Disher, and Wakeford all have 5.
The penalty kill for both clubs is strong, but the powerplay could use a little work for both clubs as well.
Powerplay: Penalty Kill:
Trail - 11.9% (14th) Trail - 92.3% (1st)
Cents - 11.1% (15th) Cents - 82.8% (10th)
The goaltending duel sees Dias getting the lions share of the work but with a back to back situation there's a good chance we will see Colton Phillips-Watts get his second start of the preseason. Dias is 0-4 with a .855 SV% and a 5.01 GAA. Phillips-Watts is 1-0 with a .960 SV% and a 1.00 GAA.
Cayden Hamming scored the win in Merritt and is now 2-1 with a .954 SV% with a 1.34 GAA and 1 shutout. Logan Terness is 4-1 with a .911 SV% and a 2.94 GAA.
Head Coach Derek Sweet Coulter is preaching a strong breakout to lead to some more offense.
"What we are seeing on the video is that when we have guys keeping it simple in the neutral zone, and getting a crisp pass out of the defending zone we are having some better looks. We need to keep it simple in our own end and run our lines up the ice."
The Centennials are hoping that they break out to a win tonight.
Puck drop 7pm on BCHLTV.ca and Q101.ca. Pre-game 6:45 with Jared Thomas.
Catch the watch party at Boston Pizza Merritt - make your reservation now by calling 378-4222.
The Merritt Centennials found themselves in the hockey game after 40 minutes of play thanks to some great goaltending from Josh Dias, but after coming into the period down a goal, they ended with a 5-0 final.
There was no road rust to speak of for the Trail Smoke Eaters as they came into the game hot and put the pressure on from the opening puck drop. Dias had to be good early on to see the team through the first frame as he turned away 17 shots while the Centennials only mustered 6. No stop was more impressive than a diving blocker sprawl from Dias that punched the puck wide. After 1 it was scoreless.
The story remained the same for a large portion of the second period. Dias held the Cents in the game while they managed to get a few chances at the other end. Throughout the game the physicality was at a fever pitch, but the Cents started to chase the hits a little too much midway through the frame. After shrugging off a check Drew Elser found Noah Wakeford in front and he was able to beat Josh Dias upstairs as he was unmarked. The Centennials weren't able to capitalize on their 2 powerplays in the period. Shots after 2 were 25-14.
The Cents came into the third with the game for the taking, but those thoughts didn't last long as Quinn Disher scored just 14 seconds into the period. The Centennials then fell into a spiral of undisciplined play that saw them take 5 more minor penalties and multiple misconducts in the third period. To their credit, the Smoke Eaters only scored once on the powerplay, a two-man advantage where Captain Cody Schiavon absolutely wired a shot top corner. The Smokies added goals from Zack Feaver and Zach Park to make it a 5-0 final. The final shot count was 46-22.
After the game Assistant Coach Zach Wright said the team has to try and do more for Dias.
"This was a tough game because you can see Dias is giving us a chance heading into the third. We couldn't make good on the opportunity he gave us, and we have to learn from it."
The Cents will get a chance for redemption next week when they clash again with the Smoke Eaters. This time on their ice in Trail.
The Merritt Centennials (1-3) get set to take on a team other than the Prince George Spruce Kings for the first time in the preseason as they welcome their Interior Division rival the Trail Smoke Eaters (4-2) to town tonight.
The Centennials are coming off a tough 5-1 loss to the Prince George Spruce Kings that saw them suffer from some tough bounces. The game didn’t start well with Colton Cameron striking within the first minute with a floater from the line that found its way through a crowd in front. Austin Spiridakis netted his first of the preseason minutes later after an ill-timed pinch led to a 3-on-1 the other way. Merritt was on their heels through the first 10 minutes, but after the BCHL media time out the team hit the ice like a completely different squad and quickly found a goal from Ben Ward to get them back into the game. The Cents looked to be on the comeback trail to start the second period with a powerplay opportunity, but that’s where things started to unravel. Josh Dias was caught off-guard by a streaking Andrew Seaman who stole the puck and scored shorthanded. Late in the period after the Cents drew another penalty, Christian Buono was able to goad Trevor Isaksson into a misconduct. With all the commotion after the call, Mason Waite streaked in from centre, blowing past the defensemen and added another shorthanded to put PG up 4-1 after 2. The Cents weren’t able to muster much in the third period, and ex-Cent Hunor Torzsok sealed the game with a gift off the endboards of the RMCA that led to a 5-1 final.
The team will be glad to see a new opponent in front of them after playing a 4-set against one of the stingiest teams in the BCHL. The Centennials and Smoke Eaters have some history as they were spirited playoff rivals two seasons ago, before the Smoke Eaters took off to be one of the top offensive clubs and top clubs overall last season. However, a lot of those familiar faces that brought the Smoke Eaters to new heights last season are no longer there. No Kent Johnson or Phillipe Lapointe who have graduated to the University of Michigan. No more Owen Ozar who has moved on to the USHL. No more Michael Collela and the list goes on. The Smoke Eaters find themselves with a new bench boss in Tim Fragle, and are reloading this season with only 6 returning players from last seasons roster. However, at least early on the team seems to be clicking just fine with the new players in the fold. Also only playing against one opponent so far this preseason, the expansion Cranbrook Bucks, the Smoke Eaters have 4 wins and 2 losses so far. In their last 5 games they are 3-2 with a tight 6-5 win in OT their last time out that earned them a weekend split after a 4-1 loss to Cranbrook. Before that they were 4-2 and 3-1 winners after a 3-0 shutout at the hands of the Bucks.
The Centennials will be hoping to kick start the offense after struggling to a 1.50 goal-per-game rate against the trapping Spruce Kings. In talking with the players and staff, no one is hitting the panic button yet, and they’re hopeful a new team on the other end of the ice will help wake some of the offensive mojo.
Former Smoke Eater Trevor Isaksson currently leads the way for the Merritt Centennials with 3 points in 4 games. Ben Ward, Jerzy Orchard, and Grayson Valente have supplied 2 points while 8 other Cents have chipped in on the offense.
The Smoke Eaters are led by Connor Sweeney with 8 points, Connor Michaud and Cody Schiavon have 5 points while 3 others have 4 points.
The special teams battle sees both teams even with the extra man, but Trail is currently tops in the league when it comes to the kill.
Powerplay: Penalty Kill:
Trail – 12.5% (14th) Trail – 90.6% (1st)
Cents – 12.5% (15th) Cents – 81.8% (10th)
The goaltending situation sees Dias continue to search for his first win as he’s 0-3 with a .837 SV% and a 5.00 GAA. Colton Phillips-Watts is waiting in the wings with a 1-0 record, a .960 SV%, and a 1.00 GAA.
Reigning rookie of the year Logan Terness is 3-1 in the crease so far with a .905 SV% and a 3.48 GAA. Newcomer Cayden Hamming is 1-1 with a .932 SV% and a 2.20 GAA.
Assistant Coach Levi Start says the team is looking forward to a new opponent.
“I think the team is excited to see someone different, to be playing back at home, and to be playing a team that plays a different style. They’ve been working hard in practice to be ready for the game.”
The Centennials will hope that a new opponent will bring a new result tonight.
Puck drop 7pm from the NVMA. Pre-game 6:45 on BCHLTV.ca and Q101.ca with Jared Thomas and Michael Reeve.