The Merritt Centennials conclude their exhibition schedule at home hosting the defending BCHL champion Spruce Kings tonight.
The Cents are coming off their best effort of the preseason, but it still wasn't enough to top Prince George in Prince George. For the third game in a row the Cents opened the scoring, with Troy Quinn threading a pass through the throng of bodies in the middle to Daniel Tkac behind the D to make it a 1-0 game. However, like in all three games so far, hanging on to the lead has been difficult as less than a minute later Chong Min Lee countered for the Spruce Kings. Aiden Hosein had a good showing between the pipes, and got plenty of help from his best friend the cross bar as it was hit at least 4 times during his time in net. The Spruce Kings then got the go ahead goal from former Cents affiliate Brett Pfoh in the 2nd period, Matsui would tie things up after another pass from Quinn sprung him down the left wing and his shot beat Jett Alexander upstairs. Unfortunately, Pfoh would find the back of the net again just 2 minutes later to restore the lead. PG then jumped out to a quick goal in the 3rd, just 11 seconds in to widen the margin to two. Troy Quinn would finish his night with a PP goal, a top corner snipe glove side from the left point after a good play by Joey Berkopec to keep the puck in at the point.
The Cents have faced some stiff competition throughout the exhibition season, and it doesn't get any easier tonight. However, they should have the closest rendition to the opening night roster on display and have gotten some time this week to start to gel as a team. What started as a main camp of 88 has slowly dwindled down to a size of well under 30.
One thing that has been strong for the Centennials so far is their special teams. They went 3/4 against the Spruce Kings on Tuesday, and have only allowed two goals while shorthanded through the preseason.
Merritt will have to exorcise the demons of 3-1 and 5-2 losses to the Penticton Vees and a 5-3 loss to Prince George. The Cents will face another stiff test, but one they'll have to conquer if they want to go into the regular season with a win in their pocket.
Puck drop 7pm. Pre-game 6:55 on hockeytv.com with Jared Thomas and Michael Reeve.
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The Centennials mustered the most offense they have in the post season, but it wasn't enough against the defending champion Spruce Kings as Merritt fell 5-3.
For the third game in a row the Centennials struck first. After going unsuccessful on the powerplay for the first two preseason games, the Cents finally managed to light the lamp with the extra man. Newcomer Troy Quinn threaded a needle up ice to Daniel Tkac who snuck in behind the D and went top corner on Jett Alexander to make it 1-0. However, much like in the first two preseason games, the Centennials had trouble defending the lead as under a minute later Chong Min Lee would tie things up for the Spruce Kings beating Aiden Hosein. After the first, shots were 13-12 in favour of Prince George.
In the second period the Spruce Kings got the go-ahead goal from former Centennials AP Brett Pfoh at the 10:01 mark. This time it was the Cents turn to play spoiler as Quinn found Payton Matsui with a go-ahead pass and he scored just over a minute later with a shot up and over the blocker-side of Alexander to tie things at 2's. Brett Pfoh would regain the lead for the Spruce Kings just two minutes later in a back and forth period of action. Shots after 2 were 25-17.
The third saw the Spruce Kings jump out to an early lead as just 11 seconds in Nicholas Poisson tallied with a move to the backhand on Kosik to give PG the two goal lead. With the Cents heading to the powerplay, Quinn had enough dishing and rifled one top corner after a pass from Joey Berkopec to get the Cents back within one at 4-3. Finn Williams quickly restored the 2 goal lead on the following shift and that would be the final, 5-3 in favour of the Spruce Kings. Final shots were 35-31.
The Cents will look to capture their first win of the exhibition season in their finale on Friday at the Nicola Valley in a rematch against the Spruce Kings.
The Merritt Centennials get set to do battle with the reigning BCHL Champion Spruce Kings in exhibition action tonight.
The Cents are coming off a pair of losses to the Penticton Vees over the weekend that was. The first match on Friday resulted in a 3-1 loss, and the rematch on Saturday was a 5-2 loss. The Centennials have made some tough decisions since the weekend and have slimmed the roster to 16 forwards, 7 defenseman, and 4 goalies.
In goal, Aiden Hosein and Jakob Gullmes shined in the 3-1 loss to the Vees on Friday. The score could've been much worse if not for the combined efforts of the Centennials netminders. Ryan Winter and Pierre Olivier-Couture had a much harder time on Saturday night and the Vees capitalized on more of their chances. The battle for the crease and up front seems to be the most wide open judging on how many players remain.
The Cents will come in to PG with a much clearer picture of who is going to be on the opening day roster that should lead to them being more competitive as a result. They will definitely have their hands full with a battle-hardened Spruce Kings squad that will be getting their first taste of exhibition action after going all the way to the National Championship Final last year.
Head Coach and General Manager Barry Wolff says that he was happy with how the team played on the weekend.
"It wasn't really about the result, it was about seeing the team compete on the ice, and I believe they did that."
Tonight he expects a little more from the lineup.
"We are playing a good team, but the focus will be on us. What are we doing well, what can we do more, how do we take the next step."
The Cents will look to take the next step against the Spruce Kings and earn their first preseason victory tonight.
7pm puck drop from the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena. The game will be available on Hockeytv.com.
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The Centennials faced off against the Vees yet again, and once again it was the Vees who came out on top 5-2.
Although there was no scoring in the early goings of the first period, the Cents did manage to ripple mesh first. At the 14:28 mark of the 1st, Sean Michalevich converted on a rebound after a low shot by Rylan Van Unen bounced off the pads of Yaniv Perets into the slot. Unfortunately for the Cents, they quickly surrendered the equalizer as just 20 seconds later Alex DiPaolo converted from the high slot with a shot through the wickets of Ryan Winter who saw his first action for the Centennials. Early on the whistles were in the pocket for the game as the Cents and Vees only got one opportunity a piece in the opening frame. Shots were 15-10 in favour of the Vees after 1.
The Vees took control early in the 2nd with quick goals from Jack Barnes and Evan McIntyre to give them a two goal edge not even 70 seconds into the period. Vincent Nardone scored short handed at the 12:30 mark, and DiPaolo earned his 2nd of the game by batting a puck out of mid-air and into the net. Matt Osadick finally supplied an answer for the Centennials, sniping one low on Perets after possibly the best shift of the game where the Cents were making good crisp passes and moving the puck laterally around the zone. After 2 the shots were 30-23.
In the third, the game degraded into a parade to the penalty box. The Vees were in trouble early after taking Osadick out of the game with a high-stick. Holding a bloody rag to his mouth Osadick went to the tunnel for repairs and didn't return. The Cents couldn't find the back of the net despite a lengthy 5-on-3 powerplay, and then the Vees started to get opportunities. Despite all the chances on the powerplay, neither team converted with the extra man. Merritt also found themselves short two returning defenseman as Joey Berkopec and Talon Zakall were both given misconducts towards the end of the game. The final shots were 37 to 33 in favour of the Vees.
The Cents should expect to be down to a manageable number on the roster before facing the defending champion Prince George Spruce Kings on Wednesday in PG and Friday in Merritt.
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The Merritt Centennials and the Penticton Vees clash for the second time in two nights in the latter half of a home-at-home series tonight at the NVMA.
Last night it was the veteran laden Vees lineup that got the better of the Centennials. Despite a quick goal by Olson Werenka just 45 seconds into the game, David Silye scored before the 1:30 mark of the first and the tie would last until the end of the frame. The Cents pushed the pace in the first period drawing 3 penalties, but couldn't convert on any powerplay opportunities. Shots after 1 were 8-8 with Aiden Hosein and Derek Krall allowing 1 goal apiece.
In the second the Vees ramped up the pressure and the Cents started to buckle. If not for some stellar play from Hosein and then Jakob Gullmes the Cents could've been in a lot worse situation, even so the Vees scored on a goal mouth scramble after Gullmes couldn't cover a puck to the side of the net, the Vees fed it back to the point and Steve Holtz blasted a shot up high before Gullmes could get set. After two period of play the score was 2-1 but the Vees started to pull away on the shot clock 26-16.
The third saw the Vees continue to push for more, and the Cents youngsters started to show their age as they were running out of gas. The Vees got their 5th powerplay opportunity of the night and were finally able to convert. First round Flyers pick Jay O'Brien showed off some moves, cutting in from the top of the right circle and firing mid-blocker on Gullmes to make it 3-1. A deflection goal that would have made it 4-1 was called off and 3-1 would be the final.
The Cents went 0-5 on the powerplay, while the Vees were 1/5.
Head Coach Barry Wolff says the roster should slim down after last nights match up and tonight should feature a few more regulars at the NVMA as the Cents try and return the favour to the Vees in their first home contest.
Puck Drop 7pm at the NVMA. Entrance by donation. Jared Thomas and Michael Reeve with the call on Hockey TV starting at 6:55.
A reminder to sign up for the Cents weekly online 5050 here: https://centsweekly5050.thelottofactory.com/