Merritt Centennials
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The Merritt Centennials (8-16-1-0) look to rebound against the Penticton Vees (21-8-1-0) tonight.

The Centennials had their ugliest game of the year on the last trip out, and are looking to use the bad taste as motivation, but forget the game. They started shorthanded due to a delay of game penalty in the warm up, and things started to unravel fast. The Cents surrendered a goal a minute in and that would be the dreary forecast for the game. Trail, lead by Kent Johnson, would pump in 6 goals on the powerplay in the first period and would lead the game 5-0 after the first ten minutes. Josh Van Unen was able to score his first in the BCHL off a Talon Zakall rebound to make it 5-1 at the time, but after 20 minutes of play the score would be 6-1. All Trail goals coming with the extra man. In the second, Olson Werenka was able to sneak a powerplay blast down low, but the Smoke Eaters didn't slow down on their powerplay output and added another to make it 7-2 after 2 periods. In the third, Trail would add two more at even strength to make it a 9-2 final. Tanner Marshall was on the hook for all 9 goals, but battled throughout the game like a pro. The Cents will need a much better effort against the top team in the Interior Division.

The Penticton Vees aren't enjoying a strong string of play of late with losses in their last 3 games, and will also come into the game hungry for a win. The Vees are 2-3 in their last 5 and have made some moves to solidify their roster of late. Their last 5 games are as follows a 5-3 loss to the Prince George Spruce Kings, a 4-0 loss to Chilliwack, a 7-2 loss to the Coquitlam Express, a 4-3 win over Langley, and a 2-1 overtime win over the Wenatche Wild. The team acquired Nico Somerville from the Victoria Grizzlies to bolster their back end and sent out Alex DiPaolo and Colton Kitchen in exchange. The Vees will be looking to right the ship against the Cents tonight.

Josh Kagan was held off the score sheet for the first time in the month of November, but is sitting at 19th in league scoring with 27 points. In fact, most of the roster was held off the score sheet and Daniel Tkac holds ground with 20 points, while Payton Matsui and Christian Buono have 17 points.

Former first round NHL pick Jay O'Brien leads the Penticton Vees in scoring and is 2nd in the BCHL 43. Danny Weigh has 33 points, and Captain David Silye has 30 points.

The special teams battle sees the Cents licking their wounds on the penalty kill, but steadily improving on the powerplay.

Powerplay:                                      Penalty Kill:

Cents - 8.3% (17th)                    Cents - 70% (16th)

Vees - 19.6% (7th)                      Vees - 80% (9th)

Tanner Marshall took the last outing in stride, and played great despite the teams performance in front of him. He is now 5-8 with a 4.58 GAA and a 878 SV%. Ryan Winter is still waiting in the wings with a 2-8-1 record, a .910 SV%, a 3.75 GAA and 1 shutout.

Yaniv Perets has gotten the call more often than not in the crease for the Vees. He is 12-5-1 with a .914 SV%, a 2.26 GAA and 3 shuutouts. Carl Stankowski is 4-2 with a .892 SV% and a 2.87 GAA.

Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter says the Cents have to get back to basics.

"We need to have a bigger push from top to bottom to compete in this league. You can't afford to take a night off in the BCHL. We need to make sure our preparation is better, and our execution is better."

The Cents will hope to restart the streak at a basic 1 tonight.

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

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The Merritt Centennials took the most lopsided loss of the season on the chin as the Smoke Eaters used their powerplay to power their way to a 9-2 win.

The Smoke Eaters started the game on the power play after a delay of game penalty to Braydon Clark for skating too long in the warm up. Trail only needed just over a minute for Captain Phillipe Lapointe to be found by BCHL point leader Kent Johnson back door to make it 1-0. Talon Zakall would go off for cross-checking at the 1:46 mark and Olson Werenka would take a double minor to put the Smoke Eaters up two men. Lapointe would score back door again, set up by Johnson again to make it 2-0. Johnson would score through bodies in front, bar and in to make it 3-0. Ghirardosi and Connor would add goals on the powerplay as well and before the ten minute mark the Cents were down 5-0. Josh Van Unen scored his first in the BCHL, and first as a Cent off a Talon Zakall rebound to make it 5-1, but before the end of the period the Cents would go back to the penalty kill and would surrender another goal to make it 6-1. Shots after 1 were 21-8 in favour of Trail.

The Cents started off the second period on the right foot, but couldn't get on the scoresheet until they went on a powerplay of their own. Olson Werenka would sneak one low through Terness to make it 6-2. Lapointe would complete the powerplay hat trick before the period was out to make it 7-2. Shots after 2 were 32-25 Smoke Eaters.

In the third, the Smoke Eaters would finally score some even strength goals to make it 9-2.

After the game, even the positive Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter didn't have much too look on.

"It was an ugly game. Our preparation wasn't there. We need to be better as leaders, as coaches, as a team and get back to the Centennials hockey that we've been playing in the last few games, forget this one and get ready for Penticton."

The Cents will look to reset against the Vees on Friday when they welcome them for the final time to the NVMA.

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The Merritt Centennials (8-15-1-0) welcome the Trail Smoke Eaters (18-8-2-1) and the BCHL's biggest offense to the NVMA tonight.

The Cents are coming off their first 4 point weekend, and come in with a three game win streak to tonight's contest. Over the Weekend the offense for the Cents was no slouch either winning by scores of 4-2 over Prince George and 6-4 over the Wenatchee Wild. The Cents were able to find timely goals and got solid goaltending from Tanner Marshall throughout the weekend that was which was a key contributor to their success.

In the game against Prince George, Payton Matsui was able to steal a puck behind the net shorthanded and stuff it in to open the scoring, Hunor Torzsok scored by deflecting a Zakall shot, Christian Buono found Josh Kagan back door, and Matt Osadick scored for the first official time before the end of the 2nd period. The Cents had a 4-0 lead going into the third, and if not for some knuckling pucks Marshall deserved the shutout, but two beat him to make it a 4-2 final.

The following night against the Wenatchee Wild the Cents rode out a rough 1st period full of penalties to come back and tie the game 2-2 with goals from Tyson Galloway and Talon Zakall before surrendering one late to make it 3-2 after 1. The second period went scoreless before the Cents shot out of the gate in the third with 4 unanswered goals from newcomer Braydon Clark, a slick give and go between Kagan and Tkac, a powerplay blast from Thomas Manty, and a shot off a faceoff win by Oslon Werenka to make it 6-3 going into the latter half of the third. The Cents bent, but didn't break to hang on for the 6-4 win.

The Trail Smoke Eaters have been one of the hottest teams in the league since the last time these two teams met - at the BCHL showcase. Trail has ridden a red hot offense led by the BCHL's best Kent Johnson to a series of wins, however, of late they're beginning to cool slightly. In their last 5 games the Smokies are 2-2-1, that one representing a rare tie against the Langley Rivermen 4-4 after the game was called due to a serious injury. Their last 5 games are as follows: a 3-1 victory over the Chilliwack Chiefs, a 4-4 tie with the Langley Rivermen, a 5-2 loss to Alberni Valley, a 4-1 loss to the Nanaimo Clippers, and a 6-2 win over Powell River.

Josh Kagan has now gotten into the top 20 in BCHL scoring sitting at number 19 with 27 points. The Slovakian Wolrd Junior candidate Daniel Tkac has 20 points, and Payton Matsui has 17.

The Smoke Eaters and the BCHL are led by young phenom Kent Johnson with 52 points. Running mate Michael Collela has 38 points, and Owen Ozar has 37.

In net, Tanner Marshall has strung two wins together for the first time this season and is now 5-7 with an .886 SV% and a 4.27 GAA. Ryan Winter has been out of action for the last while and is 2-8-1 with a .910 SV%, a 3.75 GAA, and 1 shutout.

Trail is led by rookie netminder Logan Terness who is 13-4-2 with a .939 SV% and a 2.17 GAA. Matteo Paler Chow who was acquired from Powell River is a combined 8-8 with an .877 SV% and a 3.53 GAA.

Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter says that the Cents need to be ready for the creative offense of the Smoke Eaters.

"These guys can make a play out of thin air, and they have tons of speed. We will have to slow them down, be physical, and play strong team defense."

The Cents will hope to create a win 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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tkac to slovakia.jpg

The Merritt Centennials are announcing that Daniel Tkac has been asked to represent his home country of Slovakia in the upcoming World Junior Championships.

The 5'11, 185 pound Slovakian, has been dynamite for the Centennials this season scoring 6 goals and setting up 14 in 23 games played. After playing in an energy role last season, he's been thrust into playing more prime time minutes this year and has thrived, already surpassing last years point totals.

The 19 year old Tkac has previous experience playing for his country. He suited up with the U18 Slovakian team where he got into 8 games with the national squad scoring 2 goals and 2 assists before representing Slovakia at the U18 World Juniors where he had 3 points in 5 games.

Tkac says that playing for his country is something he's always dreamed about.

"It's an unbelievable feeling just to get the chance to play. It doesn't happen too often that you get an opportunity like this. It's one of those things that you think about growing up and when it comes you got to make the most of it."

Director of Hockey Operations John Stuart says that having someone from the team representing at the World Juniors is a huge boost for the program.

"Daniel has proven he is an elite player in the BCHL and getting recognized by the Slovakian national team is something he should be very proud of. We will miss him in the line up while he's away for the World Juniors, but we are very proud of him for getting this rare opportunity. His hard work, determination, and being a good, positive teammate is being rewarded by this honor."

The Centennials will be without the services of Tkac from Dec. 6th until January 6th.

Slovakia's first official game will be on December 27th against Kazakhstan. Tkac and Slovakia's competition will also include Sweden, Finland, and Switzerland in group A of the tournament,

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The Merritt Centennials rode out a wild start to the game, and rode a wild start of the third period to a comeback win over Wenatchee 6-4.

The first period started with the tone set by the officials. Multiple misconducts and penalties were handed down early and the Wild got out to a 2-0 lead. To their credit the Cents didn't fade away as youngster Tyson Galloway bulged the twine for his second of the year going top shelf off a crazy passing play in front. Then on a powerplay that was beginning to sputter, Talon Zakall threw one on net from centre ice and it fooled Noah Altman and bounced into the net to tie the game at 2. However, the Wild were able to regain the lead after a back door feed was finished off to restore a 3-2 lead heading into the 2nd. Shots after 1 were 12-9 in favour of Wenatchee.

In the middle frame the team settled down, the whistles were less frequent, and the goalies stood tall as it was a scoreless period. Tanner Marshall made some desparation saves to keep his team within one heading to the third. Shots after 2 were 24-15 Wild.

Braydon Clark didn't take long to get on the stat sheet in the game with an early penalty, and in the third he didn't take long to get on the scoreboard as just over a minute in he found a loose puck in front and put it past Altman to make it 3-3 for his first in the BCHL. Daniel Tkac 'The Slovakian Superman' as coined by color man Michael Reeve scored a beauty give and go with Josh Kagan to put the Cents in the driver seat. Then with an opportunity to widen the margin on the PP, the Cents got a goal courtesy a one-timed blast from Thomas Manty top corner to make it 5-3. Olson Werenka then added the fourth unanswered by taking a faceoff win from Daniel Tkac and blasting it through the crowd upstairs to make it 6-3. By the time the Wild struck back, there was only 20 seconds left on the clock and the Cents had secure the victory. Final shots were 38-29 Wenatchee.

After the game, Derek Sweet-Coulter was applauding the boys for not getting down on themselves early.

"The first period didn't really go our way, but we figured out how the game was going, made the adjustments necessary, and then started to battle back. You have to hand it to the guys for having the resilience in this one."

The Cents have put together their first 3 game winning streak of the season and look to pick up points next week against the Trail Smoke Eaters and the Penticton Vees.

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