Merritt Centennials
Q101 is the Home of the Cents!

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The Merritt Centennials (10-23-1-3) take on the Cowichan Valley Capitals (23-12-3-1) in a matinee matchup.

The Merritt Centennials weren't able to cash in on their chances, and gave some good ones to the Warriors who got back to within 3 points before Christmas with a 5-3 win. The first period saw the Cents come out a little flat against the Warriors to start and they played with fire one too many times as the Warriors scored on the powerplay to make it 1-0. That woke the Centennials up and they were able to score two goals 29 seconds apart from Matt Osadick and Hunor Torzsok both on beautiful wristers from the left side to make it 2-1 Cents. Merritt started to get into penalty trouble late in the frame, and headed into the dressing room with a 2-1 lead and two men in the box. The Warriors would score on three gifts from the Centennials in the 2nd period. Olson Werenka scored an own goal trying to break up a pass. Buono would score on the PP, but Max Bulawka scored after the puck bounced right back to his stick after Joey Berkopec broke up a pass, and Werenka and Zakall were picked off behind the net to make it 4-3 Warriors after 2. The Warriors would add an empty netter to take the game 5-3.

The Capitals are coming in off some hard fought games against the top teams in the interior in Trail and Penticton. They fell 4-3 in Trail, but were able to best the Penticton Vees in a shootout 6-5. Before that their last game came against the Centennials last Saturday, a tight checking 3-2 win in the shootout over Tanner Marshall and the Cents. The Cents got two goals from Hunor Torzsok and were in the drivers seat until the final seconds when Cowichan tied the game to send it to extra time. Both Caps goals came from rookie Matthew Crasa. The game went all the way to the shootout and the Capitals would edge the Cents.

Christian Buono picked up another goal last night and now has a team leading 28 points. Payton Matsui has 23, while Thomas Manty has 18 points.

The Capitals are led by Luc Wilson up front who has 40 points, defender Dimitri Mikrogiannakis has 37 and rookie Matthew Crasa has 33.

The special teams continues to click for the Centennials, but the Capitals are at the next level.

Powerplay:                                   Penalty Kill:

Cents - 10.9% (17th)              Cents - 72% (17th)

Caps - 23.8% (4th)                   Caps - 81.8% (8th)

The goaltending duel sees Ryan Winter coming off a pair of solid performances, but Tanner Marshall who may have had the performance of his career in a 57 save game against the Capitals last weekend. Marshall is 6-10-1 with a .882 SV% and a 4.45 GAA. Ryan Winter is 3-11-2 with a .902 SV% and a 4.08 GAA.

The Capitals have two solid options in net. Zach Borgiel is 16-8-1 with a .903 SV% and a 2.98 GAA. Ben Howard is 7-4-2 with an .889 SV% and a 3.14 GAA.

Head Coach Derek Sweet Coulter says the Capitals brought out the best in the Cents last Saturday and he hopes it happens again.

"We've seen this team once before, and the Cents played one of their best games. We need to play at that level again if we want to get past the Capitals."

The Cents will look for the best result possible this afternoon.

Puck drop 2pm. Pre-Game 1:45 on Q101 and Hockey TV with Jared Thomas and Michael Reeve.

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The Merritt Centennials weren't able to cash in on their chances, and gave some good ones to the Warriors who got back to within 3 points before Christmas with a 5-3 win.

The first period saw the Cents come out a little flat against the Warriors to start and they played with fire one too many times as the Warriors scored on the powerplay to make it 1-0. That woke the Centennials up and they were able to score two goals 29 seconds apart from Matt Osadick and Hunor Torzsok both on beautiful wristers from the left side to make it 2-1 Cents. Merritt started to get into penalty trouble late in the frame, and headed into the dressing room with a 2-1 lead and two men in the box. Shots after 1 were 20-11 West K.

The Warriors would score on the powerplay courtesy an own goal from Olson Werenka as he sprawled to stop a cross crease pass he deflected it into his own net. That would tie the game at 2-2. The Cents would restore the lead halfway through the frame with a powerplay goal of their own from Christian Buono who is starting to heat up heading into Christmas, but they'd give it right back on the ensuing play. The Warriors would drive in on a two-on-one, Joey Berkopec took away the pass, but when it slid across it bounced right back to Max Bulawka, Ryan Winter bit on the pass, and Bulwaka scored on the vacant net. West Kelowna would gain the lead late in the 2nd when Werenka and Zakall passed behind the net one too many times, got picked off by Tyler Cristall who took it out front and beat Winter to make it 4-3 after 2. Shots after 2 were 31-20 Warriors.

The Cents weren't able to break through on their chances in the third, and didn't throw enough rubber on or enough energy towards the offensive zone to mount the comeback. Joey Berkopec took a late penalty to put the Cents shorthanded at the end of the game and Cristall added an empty netter to make it a 5-3 final. Final shots were 43-30 West Kelowna.

After the game, Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter said the Cents made life difficult on themselves.

"We have played a ton of games leading into the break, and we aren't keeping it simple. When we over complicate things it ends up in our net, and we did that a few too many times tonight."

The Cents look to regroup tomorrow afternoon against the Cowichan Valley Capitals at 2pm.

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The Merritt Centennials (10-22-1-3) get set for game two of the double header against the West Kelowna Warriors (6-23-5-2) tonight.

The Merritt Centennials were spurred on by the play of Ryan Winter in net and Christian Buono up front en route to a 6-2 victory last night in West Kelowna. Rylan Van Unen started the game off with a bang when he scored 29 seconds in from the corner below the goal line off the pads of Derrick and in to make it 1-0. The Warriors were able to quickly answer to make it 1-1. Ben Ward battled his way to the front and was spotted by Evan Benwell, Ward took a couple cracks and then roofed it to make it 2-1. Joey Berkopec wheeled down the right wing, drove the slot, and put it on a platter for Wyatt Marlow who sniped top corner to make it 3-1 and chase Derrick from the net with under 10 minutes gone in the frame. Coach of the Warriors Brandon West called a time out, swapped goaltenders and the Warriors responded by pushing play for the remainder of the first. The Warriors would score on the powerplay to make it 3-2, but the Cents would escape the first with a lead.

The second period saw a much more even keeled contest with the Cents regaining their form. Neither team could solve the goalies as Ryan Winter stood on his head making a couple of game changing saves to keep the Warriors at bay. The Cents got an opportunity on the PP late in the frame, and after squandering the first minute thirty they were able to get in on a good final rush. Rylan Van Unen played cross ice for Payton Matsui, who found Christian Buono in front to make it 4-2.

In the third, the Centennials played the right way with the lead. Christian Buono added another powerplay goal after tapping in the back door pass from Joey Berkopec who drove the zone with speed. The Cents had a couple key stops from Winter in the final frame, and Buono added an empty netter shorthanded to complete the natural hat trick and ice the game late. Final Shots were 40-34 West Kelowna.

The season series now sits 3-0 in favor of the Cents and Merritt has outscored the Warriors 15-6 over those games with wins of 4-2, 5-2 and now 6-2. The Cents will need another solid performance from their goaltender tonight, and play to the level they're capable of in front of their home town fans.

Christian Buono's stat line got a bump as he scored a hat trick last night and leads the team offensively with 27 points. Payton Matsui picked up an assist last night on a Buono goal and is up to 24 points. Thomas Manty will be looking to bump a mini slump as he sits at 18 points.

The Warriors are still led by Cristall, Evans and Cullen with 21 points as the Cents managed to keep the top threats of West Kelowna off the score sheet last night.

The special teams battle sees the Cents starting to find some success once more before the Christmas break.

Powerplay:                                      Penalty Kill:

Cents - 10.7% (17th)                 Cents - 72.8% (17th)

WK - 16.7% (12th)                      WK - 74.7% (15th)

Ryan Winter is coming off a sensational start that saw him stop 38/40 shots thrown his way. He picked up his elusive 3rd win of the year and is now 3-10-2 with a .902 SV% and a 4.06 GAA with 1 shutout. Tanner Marshall is waiting in the wings with a 6-10-1 record an .882 SV% and a 4.55 GAA.

Johnny Derrick got chased from the game early, and the team could see Brock Baier again. Baier is 3-11-4 with a .889 SV% and a 4.10 GAA. Derrick is 3-11-1 with a .902 SV% and a 3.49 GAA with 1 shutout.

Head Coach Derek Sweet Coulter says the team needs to bring the confidence that was on display in the third period last night to the game tonight.

“We were playing with confidence in the third period and we need to bring some of that swagger into the game tonight.”

The Cents will look to put some more distance between themselves and West K tonight.

Puck drop 7pm from the NVMA. Pre-Game 6:45 on Q101 and HockeyTV with Jared Thomas and Michael Reeve.

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The Merritt Centennials were spurred on by the play of Ryan Winter in net and Christian Buono up front en route to a 6-2 victory.

Rylan Van Unen started the game off with a bang when he scored 29 seconds in from the corner below the goal line off the pads of Derrick and in to make it 1-0. The Warriors were able to quickly answer to make it 1-1. Ben Ward battled his way to the front and was spotted by Evan Benwell, Ward took a couple cracks and then roofed it to make it 2-1. Joey Berkopec wheeled down the right wing, drove the slot, and put it on a platter for Wyatt Marlow who sniped top corner to make it 3-1 and chase Derrick from the net with under 10 minutes gone in the frame. Coach of the Warriors Brandon West called a time out, swapped goaltenders and the Warriors responded by pushing play for the remainder of the first. The Warriors would score on the powerplay to make it 3-2, but the Cents would escape the first with a lead. Shots after 1 were 16-9 West K.

The second period saw a much more even keeled contest with the Cents regaining their form. Neither team could solve the goalies as Ryan Winter stood on his head making a couple of game changing saves to keep the Warriors at bay. The Cents got an opportunity on the PP late in the frame, and after squandering the first minute thirty they were able to get in on a good final rush. Rylan Van Unen played cross ice for Payton Matsui, who found Christian Buono in front to make it 4-2. Shots after 2 were 28-20 Warriors.

In the third, the Centennials played the right way with the lead. Christian Buono added another powerplay goal after tapping in the back door pass from Joey Berkopec who drove the zone with speed. The Cents had a couple key stops from Winter in the final frame, and Buono added an empty netter shorthanded to complete the natural hat trick and ice the game late. Final Shots were 40-34 West Kelowna.

After the game, Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter said the Cents were playing the right way after a shaky first.

“We were running and gunning a bit too much for my liking in the first, but in the second and third we started playing our game and we saw some great stretches of play. We need to bring that confidence tomorrow.”

The Cents get set for the rematch at the NVMA Saturday night at 7pm.

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The Merritt Centennials (9-22-1-3) kick off the weekend with a huge battle against the West Kelowna Warriors (6-22-5-2) tonight.

The Centennials are coming off an effort that wasn't enough against the Powell River Kings. A game where they had a strong first period with a goal from Hunor Torzsok, but forgot about the final 40 minutes. The Centennials once again were forced to go with 13 forwards and 5 D because of a suspension and an injury, but should be back to full strength tonight with the return of Olson Werenka and Tyson Galloway. The bolstered back end should bump the tempo up a few notches, as the Centennials got outplayed in a 6-1 defeat on Wednesday night.

The Warriors come into the contest picking up points in their last 2 contests, but are 1-3-1 in their last 5. The Warriors got a gutsy 4-3 come from behind overtime win against the Chilliwack Chiefs on Tuesday night and in the game previous came back to tie, but fell in overtime to the Wenatchee Wild. Before that they hadn't picked up a point in 5 tries with losses in December to the Trail Smoke Eaters 4-3, and a pair to the Penticton Vees 3-2 and 5-1. The Warriors were very active before the December 1st deadline and are a team transformed since the last time these clubs squared off.

The season series currently sits 2-0 in favour of the Centennials with a 4-2 win at home back in the Barry Wolff era, and a 5-2 win to kick off the Derek Sweet-Coulter era at Royal LePage Place. The Cents will be missing the man who's had the most success against the Warriors with 4 points Daniel Tkac as he has made the preliminary roster for Team Slovakia at the World Juniors. Behind him rookie Thomas Manty has 3 points, while Payton Matsui, Joey Berkopec, and Josh Van Unen have each cashed in 2 in the season series.

The Centennials are having trouble finding scoring in the last 2 games and have been outscored 13-1. Christian Buono leads the offense with 24 points, Payton Matsui has 22, and Thomas Manty has 18.

The Warriors are led by a pair of rookies and a veteran up front as Johnny Evans, Tyler Cristall, and Luke Cullen are all tied with 21 points a pop.

The goaltending duel sees the Cents goalies both coming off of games they'd like to have back. Tanner Marshall is 6-10-1 with a .882 SV% and a 4.55 GAA. Ryan Winter is 2-10-2 with a .900 SV% a 4.15 GAA and 1 shutout.

In the crease for the Warriors they have Brock Baier and Johnny Derrick. Derrick is 3-10-1 with a .906 SV%, a 3.33 GAA and 1 shutout. Baier is 3-11-4 with a .887 SV% and a 4.16 GAA.

Head Coach Derek Sweet Coulter says the team needs to play with more heart than they have in the last couple games if they want to be successful.

"This is a team that has to work hard every shift if they want to be on the right side of games. We haven't seen that for the last two, and we haven't gotten the result."

The Cents will look to find some success against the Warriors tonight.

Puck drop 7pm. Pre-Game 6:45 on Q101 and HockeyTV with Jared Thomas and Michael Reeve.

 

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