Merritt Centennials
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The Cents (7-15-1-0) and Wild (13-10-3-1) meet for the final time in the regular season tonight. 

The Cents are coming off a solid wire to wire win against the Spruce Kings where they got contributions from up and down the lineup along with solid goaltending from Tanner Marshall. Payton Matsui got the tribute to Jesse Pakulat started by scoring a shorthanded goal, stripping Jett Alexander of the puck behind the net, and beating him with a wraparound to make it 1-0. Hunor Torzsok had his 2nd goal as a Cent after tipping in a Talon Zakall try after he joined the rush. After one period it was 2-0 courtesy some solid saves from Marshall. In the second, the Cents added more offense from Josh Kagan with his team leading 17th goal of the season, and Matt Osadick finally got a monkey off his back by beating the goalie down low to make it 4-0. That would be the end of Jett Alexander's night as Cent for a weekend Carter Woodside came in to relieve him. He would rally the Spruce Kings and in the third period they'd score a couple late goals to spoil the shutout bid and add some intrigue, but ultimately the Cents would hang on for the win 4-2. 

The Wild are 2-3 in their last five, but come into the contest on the heels of two straight wins. Last night they were 5-1 winners over the West Kelowna Warriors and like they've been doing all season they continue to score by committee with 5 different goal scorers. Earlier in the week they won 3-1 against the Silverbacks, but before that win they hadn't tasted victory since they topped the Cents to open November. 

This will be the season series finale tonight with the Cents trailing the season series 1-4. The Wild won the season opener 3-1, and they won the next game in the Wolves den 5-2. The Cents got their lone victory against them this season so far with a gutsy 2-1 overtime win on home ice in late September. As mentioned, Wenatchee was able to take both games of the double header down south 5-2 and 6-4, but the Cents were able to battle back in both games to tie it before sliding down the home stretch.

Josh Kagan is tied for second in the league in goals scored with 17 and his 25 points is just outside the league's top 20. Payton Matsui added another tally last night and has 17 points, Daniel Tkac is just behind with 16 points. 

The Wild are led by Nick Cafarelli up front with 27 points. Tyler Young has 25 points, and Captain Brian Adams has 21 points.  

The special teams battle sees the Cents looking to get rolling on the powerplay, but the penalty kill is rolling in November. 

Powerplay:                            Penalty Kill:

Cents -6.3% (17th)          Cents - 73.5% (15th)

Wild - 23.1% (5th)           Wild - 78% (12th)

The battle in the blue paint sees Tanner Marshall looking to continue the momentum from last night. He's now 4-7 with a .885 SV% and a 4.30 GAA. Ryan Winter is waiting in the wings with a 2-8-1 record with a .910 SV% and a 3.75 GAA and 1 shutout. 

Daniel Chenard has been the go to guy for the Wild, but the Cents have had trouble with both goalies. Chenard is 8-4-3 with a .908 SV%, a 2.48 GAA and 1 shutout. Noah Altman is 5-6 with an .873 SV% and a 3.57 GAA. 

Head Coach Derek Sweet Coulter says the Cents need to stay the course with the play of late. 

"We are building in the right direction. We need to play like we did last night, play hard, play for each other, and protect the middle. We do that and I like our chances."

The Cents will look to stay on course for their first 3 game win streak of the season. 

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

Tonight is A&W night and it's another chance to win $10,000 in the first 25 seconds of the third period. Buy a program for your entry to win! 

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The Centennials paid the ultimate tribute to Jesse Pakulat on Friday night by delivering a 4-2 win over the defending champion Spruce Kings.

Early on in the game the Cents made a few mistakes, but when the Cents faltered Tanner Marshall came up with the big save to keep the Cents in it. The Cents went down a man early, but Payton Matsui was able to score shorthanded by picking the pocket of Jett Alexander and then beat him to the post with the wraparound to make it 1-0. Late in the period, Thomas Manty broke in over the line, found the trailer in Talon Zakall and he fired a shot on that was tipped by Hunor Torzsok and in. After 1 the shots were 12-7 in favour of the Spruce Kings.

The second period continued with the strong play of the Cents up front, but once again if they faltered Marshall was able to supply the big save. The Cents got some goals early on in the frame, and the third goal came from the most likely source. Josh Kagan finished off a back door feed from Christian Buono to make it 3-0, and just 2 minutes later Matt Osadick scored his first legit goal in the BCHL after fooling Alexander five-hole. With the help of some timely saves from Marshall, the Cents carried the 4-0 lead into the 3rd period despite being out shot 23-18.

The final frame saw the Cents buckle, but not break as they hung on for the win. The Spruce Kings were able to convert on a couple bounces around the net, and a knuckle puck from the line to bring Prince George within 2. Tanner Marshall and the Cents would hang on for the 4-2 victory. Final shots were 42-24 in favour of PG.

After the game, Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter said the team is starting to come together.

"We are doing the things we need to do to win. Play hard, defend the middle of the ice, and play for each other. I liked the look of the new guys in the line up, and I'm looking forward to building off of this win."

Cents play tomorrow night against the Wenatchee Wild, on A&W game night.

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The Merritt Centennials (6-15-1-0) welcome the Prince George Spruce Kings (10-13-2-3) to the NVMA tonight.

The Centennials are coming off a weekend split where they had their best period of the season against the Surrey Eagles, but one of their worst overall performances the night previous against the Victoria Grizzlies. The Cents came into last weekends action feeling pretty good after taking 3 of 4 points from the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, but they couldn't convert the swagger into energy on the ice against Victoria. The Cents found themselves in a 2 goal hole early, and couldn't dig themselves out in the game. Hunor Torzsok scored his first goal as a Cent, Talon Zakall scored his second of the season, and Josh Kagan stayed hot for the Cents but ultimately the team would fall 6-3 to the Grizz. The following afternoon against the Eagles, it looked like the Cents had run into a hot goaltender after being held off the score sheet for 2 periods of play. However, in the third the Cents offense finally broke through. By crashing and banging in front of the net, Kagan was able to quickly flip a puck up high over Shell, then Wyatt Marlow tallied his second goal of the year on the rush, Jake McLean scored his first as a Cent, then Kagan would snipe one top corner short-side before adding an empty netter as the Cents scored 5 goals in the third to march all the way back to win.

The Spruce Kings are coming in after seeing a two game win streak snapped by the Nanaimo Clippers earlier in the week. The game was a tight 2-1 defeat. Earlier in the week they won 4-3 against Alberni Valley and 5-2 against the lowly West Kelowna Warriors. In their last 5 the Spruce Kings are 2-2-1 as are the Centennials.

These teams met twice in the pre-season. Prince George won their game on home ice, and the Cents were able to get past the Spruce Kings at the NVMA in thrilling shootout fashion.

The Cents continue to be paced by Josh Kagan who is now just outside the league's top 20 with 24 points. Payton Matsui and Daniel Tkac aren't far behind with 16 points each.

Nick Poisson leads the way for Prince George with 30 points, and is 11th league wide. Chong Min Lee has 24 points, and Corey Cunningham has potted 22.

The special teams battle favors PG, but the PK for the Cents has looked good in the last few games.

Powerplay:                                 Penalty Kill:

Cents - 6.3% (17th)               Cents - 73.2% (15th)

PG - 19.4% (8th)                     PG - 77.6% (12th)

The battle in the blue paint sees Tanner Marshall looking to rebound with a 3-7 record, an .877 SV%, and a 4.55 GAA. Ryan Winter is 2-8-1 with a .910 SV% and a 3.75 GAA.

Jett Alexander is the goaltender of record from the Prince George Spruce Kings with a 10-11-1 record, a .911 SV%, and a 2.67 GAA. The Cents may see a familiar face on the other side of the ice as Carter Woodside has been signed by the Spruce Kings. He is 1-0 with a .892 SV% and a 3.00 GAA.

Derek Sweet Coulter says the Cents need to keep moving forward.

"We are seeing the process starting to yield results now, we just need to keep working at it, and keep getting better."

The Cents will look to march towards the win tonight.

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

Be sure to be at the game and pick up a program as Snap on Tools is giving you a chance to shoot to win for $500, and if the Cents score in the first 25 seconds of the 3rd period Persistence Training Centre is giving you a chance to win $10,000!

 

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Thomas Manty

(Photo credit – Garrett James)

It’s been another crazy week of change for the Merritt Centennials.

One week ago, Brett Roloson, Colton Sun and Spencer Schneider were all Cents. Now, all three are gone and in their place comes Christian Buono from Powell River, and Jerzy Orchard and Braydon Clark from the WHL.

If you go back a touch farther, players like Jake Mclean and Honur Torzsok, who have combined for 10 games in red and black, are suddenly not the ‘new guys’ on the squad anymore.

“You just have to make them feel welcome, they’re a little quiet at first. Hunor, for example, was here two weeks ago and he’s already part of the team. It won’t take long for these guys to fit in,” said Thomas Manty.

Thomas has been able to provide some much-needed secondary scoring for Merritt. In fact, he claims the title as the leading rookie scorer on the Cents with five goals and five helpers.

“I’ve been a goal scorer for most of my life, obviously it’s a lot harder playing in this league, but whenever I can contribute, try to put the puck in the back of the net or help somebody else do it,” said Thomas.

Jared Thomas has coined the M-N-M line with Manty playing beside Chase Nameth and Wyatt Marlow.

“We talk a lot; we think communication has been the biggest piece. We’re three different style players and I think we use that to our advantage,” said Thomas. “Coach is trying to implement (playing the body) into my game, and I’m trying to.”

As for the much-maligned Cents powerplay, Thomas believes cleaning up their zone entries could be the winning formula.

Overall, Thomas spoke to great feeling around the room and on the ice.

“The message overall the past month or so, it’s trending upwards. Everyone is trying to be on the same page, and something seems to be working. I think we’re trending upwards and everyone in the locker room is trying to buy-in and that’s what we need,” said Thomas.

This weekend the Cents have a double-dip at the NVMA starting with Prince George tonight, followed by Wenatchee on Saturday. Puck drop for both contests is 7 pm, catch the pregame show with Jared Thomas and Michael Reeve starting at 6:45.

 

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On Twitter: @Q101Merritt 

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The Merritt Centennials have performed a pair of trades to bring them within the roster limit ahead of this weekends action. The Cents have sent defenseman Colton Sun (01) to the Selkirk Steelers of the SJHL in exchange for future considerations. They also dealt forward Spencer Schneider (00) to the Aberdeen Wings of the NAHL in exchange for a player development fee.

Sun appeared in 12 games for the Centennials registering 1 assist. Schneider got into 20 games tallying 4 points.

The moves come after the team acquired forward Jerzy Orchard and defender Braydon Clark from the WHL earlier in the week. 

The Centennials wish both Sun and Schneider the best in their hockey futures, and thank them for the time they spent in the community and the Nicola Valley.

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