Thursday, July 31, 2014
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Centennials Blog

Centennials Host SilverBacks In Final Games Before Christmas

The Merritt Centennials and West Kelowna Warriors renewed their Divisional rivalry on Friday night in West Kelowna, with the Cents giving up a pair of goals in the 2nd period in a 2-0 loss.

With the loss, Merritt now sits tied with West Kelowna for the final playoff spot in the Interior with 37 points, which comes with a record of 17-14-2-1. The Warriors hold a similar mark, at 17-11-1-2. 

Devin Kero made 25 of 27 saves, including 12 in the 2nd period, many of which came on an extended Kelowna powerplay.

For the Warriors, Andy Desautels picked up his first BCHL shutout with 30 saves, while Jordan Masters and Matt Anholt provided singles. Seb Lloyd earned an assist to get his 6th point of the season against Merritt.

West Kelowna finished 1-for-5 on the man advantage, while the Cents only received a single opportunity in the 3rd period.

The Centennials controlled the majority of the play in the opening period, forcing West Kelowna to resort to icing the puck on several occasions. Diego Cuglietta created the first good scoring chance but he was unable to get the puck to go through the legs of Andy Desautels as he spun for the shot. Rhett Willcox then made a smart play to pass the pack to the centre point where Zach Hartley came on with fresh legs and looked to blast a shot, but it was deflected off a Warrior to the corner. Final shots in the period rang up as 12-6 Merritt, but the game was scoreless and the Warrior faithful would have to hold tight to those teddy bears for a bit longer.
Early in the period off a quick breakout from the Warriors, Jordan Masters was able to go in on a 2-on-1 with Seb Lloyd against Dane Birks. Masters made a crafty pass to Lloyd, but Birks and Devin Kero were both left helpless as the return went to Masters and he beat Kero who was sliding across the other direction. The delay would run 3 or 4 minutes as players and volunteers collected teddy bears, and immediately following the ensuring face-off Sebastien Pare would get ejected as he hit Ben Tegtmayer with an apparent hit to the head, that left Tegtmayer lying on the ice until Pare was ejected. Adam Osczevski aided him teammate by jumping in to a fight a raring and ready Pare, who controlled the fight. Luke Pierce questioned the call and the actions of Tegtmayer on the ice, earning his ejection and an extra two minute bench minor. West Kelowna went on to the powerplay, and had lots of time and space to set up although the Cents seem to be keen to their game plan and didn't allow WK to have any glorious chances. That's not completely true as Kero did make a pair of cross-crease saves he had no business making, including one stop on Jordan Masters who got a pass along the goal line from Seb Lloyd. During the ensuing sequence, Matt Anholt would beat Kero in front with some strong traffic in front of the Cents' goal, as Carl Hesler and Liam Blackburn did most of the work to get assists. Merritt was outshot 14-4 in the period, with mostly sloppy and chippy play happening outside of the powerplay minutes. You have to commend the Cents for keeping their cool when he game could have easily been evident of frustration. Down 2-0 in to the break, the game was anything but over. Gavin Gould did beat Desautels, who was out of position before Devin Oakes pushed him and almost helped the goaltender get in to a better save position, but the goal was waved off the Oakes got a penalty for Goaltender Interference.
Early in the 3rd, Gavin Gould showed why he picked up 3rd Star honours with a strong forecheck which also had Dane Birks hop in to the rush. Gould then got back to cover on D as the Warriors flew up ice and the Centennials youngster was able to force his man wide and off the puck, before cutting back to the forecheck and leading a strong Cents rush the other direction. Jeff Wight and Payton Schaefer both rose their level of energy in the period, giving the Cents some chances but neither team was really able to settle things down and the Centennials, despite controlling the majority of the play, couldn't buy a goal on Desautels. With a shot margin of 14-7 Merritt in the 3rd, Desautels finished the game with 30 saves as the Warriors cruised to a 2-0 win.
The Cents have some time to tweak some things leading up to the January 31st matchup in Merritt, as the Warriors finally make their first visit to the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena. Once again, the Centennials got a strong performance from their rookies against the Warriors, as Adam Tracey, Rhett Willcox, Zach Hartley and Gavin Gould led the way up front. Devin Oakes was also a significant piece of the game once again, as he seems to find his stride in this league more and more every game. On the point, Jake Clifford and Malik Kaila showed strong performances, with both seeing increased ice time for their efforts.
It's a quick turnaround for the Centennials, with a day off to rest before hosting the Salmon Arm SilverBacks on Sunday afternoon at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.

Last time the teams met in Merritt, goals came often in a 5-5 draw. The most recent game, October 27th in Salmon Arm, resulted in a 5-2 Salmon Arm win.

Puck drop is 2 PM, and it's Minor Hockey Night with all fans encouraged to wear their minor hockey jerseys for a chance to be entered in to raffle draws.

Centennials And Kings Settle For 1-1 Split

The general synopsis from the crowd of 850 in Merritt on Saturday night agreed that a 1-1 draw between their Centennials and the visiting Powell River Kings was the best hockey they've been treated to this season. And I agree.

A single point doesn't help the Centennials out much in the standings, as they moved to 16-11-2-1 on the season, which is a pair back of Vernon and three behind Penticton for top spot.

Jeff Wight scored his 12th goal of the season, and Devin Kero had a solid night in goal making 40 saves, which was good for both players to be named in the 3 Star Selection. (Wight 3rd, Kero 2nd)

Jarryd Leung opened the scoring for 20-2-4-1 Powell River, and goaltender Jeff Smith was the nights' 1st Star with a whopping 53 saves, many of which weren't just outside angle shots.

Merritt has three games in the immediate week, with a trip to Penticton kicking things off on Wednesday, more details can be found below.

I thought that the opening period was the best period of hockey I have seen in a long time, and after chatting with fans on the concourse during the intermission, everyone seemed to agree. The first came with just a single penalty, as the Cents shot count jumped to finish the frame at 17-10. Merritt created two or three strong scoring chances including one which Wayland Williams joined the forecheck with Gavin Gould and nearly helped convert. Fans were anxiously awaiting their chance to toss their teddies on to the ice, but they'd have to keep waiting a bit longer as the teams were scoreless after twenty minutes.
After a very strong first period, the Centennials looked as though their momentum continued in to the middle frame, although Powell River came out with added energy and looked much better than in the early going of the first. Vernon-product and friend of the show Jordan Burns was one of the best Powell River players in the period, along with Ryan Scarfo and Jarryd Leung. It was Leung who would open the scoring with his 12th of the season at 15:16, as he converted on a mis-read from the Centennial defenders deep in the Merritt zone. Luke McCaw and Jeremy Leclerc picked up assists on the goal. It wasn't quite the period the first was, but fans continued to get their monies worth after 40, with Merritt trailing 1-0 despite leading 27-23 on the shot clock.
Diego Cuglietta and Jeff Wight were buzzing all night, with the pair working together to get the Centennials on the board just prior to the 5:00 mark, and as I said on the broadcast, "toss the teddy's, it's 1-1"! Pretty exciting moment to see the communities support of those in need, and of course the Centennials fans were looking at a chance for the win. That's when you queue the Jeff Smith Show. 17 saves in the 3rd period and many of which came out of continued pressure by the Cents, but Smith was so strong with his positioning the Centennials couldn't force it by him. That's not to take credit from Devin Kero, as he made three or four more highlight saves in the third. These two teams couldn't solve anything in regulation and were headed to 4-on-4 tied at 1. Merritt outshot Powell River 45-32 in regulation.
Luke Grayson took a late-penalty for the Kings, and early in the overtime upon his arrival back on the ice, he was fed a breakaway feed and nearly scored his first Junior A goal, but Devin Kero shut the door. Five minutes of 4-vs-4, and five more minutes of 3-vs-3 wasn't enough for either team to solve their respective goaltenders, as Dane Birks set up Jeff Wight and Diego Cuglietta for the Centennials best chance. After a slow break out, Powell River moved in with an equal opportunity as Kurt Keats set up Jarid Lukosevicius down low. Luko, as they call him, was robbed by Kero as he hung on tight to the goal line as the Kings forward streaked through the crease. With each team getting 9 shots in the overtimes, Merritt finished the game with a 54-41 shot advantage but finished with a 1-1 tie.
Devin Oakes filled in on a line with Cuglietta and Wight for much of the game, and looked very good in that role, always being in the right place for the puck to come to him, and he battled hard all night. Gavin Gould was another battler in the game, he played a 200-foot game and played more like a 200-pounder as well. On the blue line, Wayland Williams and Malik Kaila had big bounce back games, playing very responsible yet still on the edge.
You can't say enough about the goaltending in this one. A combined 93 saves and just two goals. Jeff Smith and Devin Kero get big props for their continued efforts. Smith was the best King by a mile, but that doesn't play down the Kings as they had several other standouts. As the game went on, I thought captain Aidan Wright and Brian Rideout played more and more important roles, along with another d-man in Jeremy Leclerc. Up front, Truman Gonzales had a ton of 'want' in the game and looked to always be ready to strike, while the expected offensive unit of Coleshaw-Scarfo-Dorantes moved the puck very well.


Wednesday night is the next action for the Centennials, as they visit South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton to face the Vees. Merritt was the first team to get a win at SOEC, when Shane Poulsen scored in overtime.
Penticton won their home-opener vs the Cents, and Wednesday's game tees up a return-battle on Friday in Merritt. Puck drop Wednesday is 7:00, then 7:30 on Friday.
The busy weekend concludes with the Centennials in Trail on Saturday night, with the Fri/Sat games beginning at 7:00 on Q101, while Wednesday's matchup begins at 6:30 with the Norgaard Ready Mix Pregame Show.



One Lead Is All Centennials Need In 5-4 Win Over Eagles:

Darius Davidson scored his first BCHL goal for the Surrey Eagles just over three minutes in to the hockey game, but the Merritt Centennials erased four separate leads after that in a 5-4 Centennial victory to open up a home-and-home series with the Eagles on Friday night.

Diego Cuglietta pocketed a pair of goals, including a shorthanded marker in the open in period, as Jeff Wight also scored two with Scott Patterson singling as Merritt improved to 16-9-1-1. Shane Poulsen also contributed in the offensive game with a pair of helpers, which included a near-goal on the tying goal, as his point shot his Wight's skate.

Joining Davidson on the box score for the 10-16-1-0 Eagles was Brett Mulcahy, Jonah Renouf and Luke Sandler. Bo Didur made 25 saves on 30 shots while facing a pair of former Vancouver NW Giant teammates in Malik Kaila and Gavin Gould.

Devin Kero debuted his new white, red and black pads(thanks to Bauer) and got to get them broken in with 22 of 26 saves in the game, including 19 of 20 after the first period.

Darius Davidson walked in on the left win 3:02 in the opening period and sent a hard wrist shot low glove side on Devin Kero, who got the start with Russell Sanderson out due to injury. Davidson's 1st BCHL goal came in his 26th game of the season, congratulations to him! Diego Cuglietta was then sent on a two-on-one by Dane Birks, and Cuglietta made no mistake of beating Bo Didur to tie the game with a shorthanded goal, his 2nd shorty of the season. Less then :30 seconds later, the Eagles would re-capture the lead as Jonah Renouf scored a very NHL14 like goal, as he walked out of the corner and out waited Kero for his 9th of the season. The offence wasn't done there, nor was it close to being done... Jeff Wight tied the game at 16:05 as Scotty Patterson fed him a puck deep in the offensive zone, and as Wight wrapped around the net Didur failed to get up tight to the post as the Cents tied the game at 2. Brett Mulcahy, the Surrey captain and a Kelowna-product with a strong Vernon/Armstrong tie, would rejuvenate the Eagles lead with 2:15 left in the period as he wired home a snap shot past Kero. That is where the game sat after just 20 minutes, 3-2 Eagles. Shots in the frame were 9-6 Merritt.
Patterson was allowed to streak in on a 2-on-1 five minutes in to the middle frame on a strong puck-up-ice play from Bennett Huber, which gave Patterson an option to shoot or pass to Daniel Nachbaur. Patterson shot and picked up his team leading 16th goal of the season, as Nachbaur returned to the lineup for the first time since getting surgery over a month ago. At around the 9 minute mark, Didur made his best save as Cuglietta went in with a slap shot, but was robbed by the glove of the Surrey net minder. Payton Schaefer fired a chance off the crossbar, before pressure went back the other way and Luke Sandler put the Eagles back in front 4-3. Sandler pulled a similar move as Wight's, and it also worked as Kero couldn't get his pad on the ice quick enough for the final time in the hockey game. Surrey's lead lasted just 1:46 before Jeff Wight tied it up once again, taking a Poulsen point shot off the side of his foot. Sebastien Pare also picked up an assist, in a game which he seemed to be getting under the skin of his opponents. Cuglietta gave Merritt their first lead of the hockey game with just 1:31 left in the second period, as James Neil fired a puck on net to have it bounce back out to Poulsen, whose shot was deflected right to the stick of Diego for the eventual game-winner. Merritt went to the room in front 5-4 on the scoreboard and 18-13 overall on the shot clock.
The third period didn't bring as much excitement as the opening forty minutes, although it was clear the Centennials wanted to protect their lead, as they won several puck and board battles. A pair of Centennials left the game and did not return in the third period, with James Neil appearing to limp off the ice after blocking a shot, and Scott Patterson being the victim of a questionable hit from Luke Sandler. The Sandler 5-minute Major was issued with just 2:30 left in the game, and the Centennials were unable to put the puck in the net during their 5th man advantage of the night although Cuglietta came close to adding an empty netter. You have to hope for the best for James and Scotty, as the Centennials have seen an increased production rate from both in recent weeks. Merritt was outshot 13-12 in the period, as both goaltenders made key saves including two big stops by Kero in the final period to preserve the 5-4 win.
With the win, the Cents stay atop the division as Vernon also picked up a victory and Penticton lost to Coquitlam. Merritt's record is now 16-9-1-1 with 34 points. Zach Hartley played a very unsung game along with Sam Johnson and Bennett Huber, mind you Huber did pick up a point. Those three were moving the entire game, that's what coaches like to see. Malik Kaila was also versatile on the blue line, and Shane Poulsen played yet another standout game.
Impressing for the Eagles were the Renouf twins, who don't seem to back off of anything despite their size. Two very skilled players who will take their twin powers to Quinnipiac to replace the Jones twins! Danton Heinen also played a strong game, along with his line mates Nic Pierog and Brett Mulcahy. Domenic Masellis is just 16 years old but pushed over 210 pounds on the scale, and his presence was felt all game. I can't wait to see this kid play at 20.


A rematch. Tonight. South Surrey Arena. The game ended with sparks last night so we're sure to be in for a barn burner beginning at 7 PM down on the coast. If you can't make it to the rink, you can always tune in on Q101 - Merritt's Music Mix, beginning at 6:30 with the Norgaard Ready Mix Pregame Show!

It will be a busy night in the BCHL as Merritt, Vernon and Penticton all have chances to take sole possession of first in the Interior Division, so make sure you scoreboard watch!

Centennials Get Hat Trick From Neil In 3-1 Win

The Nanaimo Clippers wrapped up a three game Interior swing on Sunday afternoon with a visit to the Merritt Centennials and the confines of the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena, following Friday's Clipper loss in Trail and a win in Penticton on Saturday.

The Centennials had won four straight prior to a 4-3 OT loss to Vernon on Friday, and they turned things around quickly as James Neil scored early, late, and even in-between to give the Centennials a 3-1 win over Mike Vandekamp's Clippers.

Neil's hat-trick gives him nine goals on the season, while the Centennials improved to 15-9-1-1 on the season, keeping on pace with Vernon atop the Interior Division.

Devin Kero made 23 saves in the victory as the Centennials outshot Nanaimo 54-24 in the contest, which included 21 shots in the opening period.

Jayson Argue was phenomenal in goal for the Clippers, making 51 saves, as Nanaimo fell to 13-11-0-1. Corey Renwick has been credited with the lone goal, his 2nd of the season.

Three penalties in the opening 5:00 of the game didn't allow either team to develop a good start to the 5-on-5 transitional game, but a Clipper penalty at the 3:30 mark allowed the Centennials to hem down pressure on the Clippers and that energy seemed to carry through the whole game. At the 3:56 mark, James Neil beat goaltender Jayson Argue at the side of the goal as Shane Poulsen worked the puck on net where Bennett Huber dug away to free it up for Neil for his 6th of the season. Both teams began to show some tempers as the period wound down, and that business was definitely not dealt with heading in to the intermission. Merritt played, in my eyes, what could have been their best period of hockey of the season, and it paid off with 21 shots compared to Nanaimo's 8.
Merritt continued to show the same work ethic and forecheck in the middle frame, although goals were nowhere to be found for either club. Another thing that carried over from the first was the physicality and the obvious presence of some tension. This was a difficult game for the officials to manage and I think they did a good job of keeping both teams at equal distance as not one glove was shed, and despite some question calls and no-calls, there is a reason only played had to serve anything more than a 2-minute minor. The best of the action in the second period would come late in the period, as it felt like from the 15:00 to 5:00 marks there was nothing but whistles, with drama brewing after most of those whistles. Argue made his best save of the game late in the second when he robbed Tyler Martin on a bullet from the blue line, reaching his glove out and spreading the legs to make for highlight-reel quality. Devin Kero then called his glove and raised him a blocker moments later, making a sharp glove stop on a Clipper rush. Merritt controlled the majority of the pace, albeit slower than the first, outshooting Nanaimo 18-7.
I said late in the second period that a late-period goal would boost the scoring team to a win, and although the late goal didn't come, an early one did. James Neil was set up with a gift from Gavin Gould just :56 seconds in, bow-tie and all. Roofing it by the Clipper netminder, Neil put the Cents up 2-0 as Diego Cuglietta drew the second assist after missing the Friday game with illness, the same illness that forced Rhett Willcox and Russell Sanderson out of the lineup on Sunday. Late in the period, Nanaimo began their push as the stripes' put away the whistles for the final 10 minutes. Corey Renwick was given a puck in the slot as he beat Kero for his 2nd goal of the season, as Eric Margo and Ryan Forbes garnered helpers. That line developed the opportunity with a strong forecheck, and Luke Pierce said after the game that the goal was a perfect play and it wasn't caused by any Centennial mistakes. Goaltender Argue raced to the bench in the final minute as Nanaimo looked towards the goal, but pucks kept bouncing along the boards and the Cents were able to skate away with it, three to centre. James Neil moved up the right wing, with clogged options in the middle and an open shot for the empty net; he chose to creatively pass to the far side, but the pass bounced off sticks and legs right back to Neil, who finished off the karmatic hat-trick to seal the deal. The final six seconds ran down and the Centennials improved to 15-9-1-1, which keeps them tied with Vernon atop the division(32 points).
There weren't many areas of the Merritt game you can look back at and say needed tweaking. They played a near-perfect home game, and as Pierce said on the post game show, there hasn't been the kind of solo-domination in a Cents jersey quite like James Neil showed fans. Neil was supported by a perfect supporting cast, as the Centennials played smart in all areas of the ice. Showing strong games were Bennett Huber and Zach Hartley, despite being placed in to situations and lines otherwise unfamiliar. Cuglietta was great once again, playing key in the face-off circle, while the line of Patterson-Wight-Pare had plenty of chances but just couldn't get one to go. After a strong game on Friday, Sam Johnson also showed hustle and hands, nearly converting on two or three chances. Can I keep going? Payton Schaefer and Tyler Martin were heart-and-soul guys all game long, and showed why they have C's on their jerseys. Devin Kero was... once again great. He is so strong positionally and his reflexes were spot-on despite it being a middle of the day game.
Impessing for the Clippers, as I said, was their goaltender Jayson Argue. He was fantastic and the only reason Nanaimo didn't lose this game by a much different score. There seemed to be some frustration building, and being expressed, from the Clipper players, but you have to commend AP Spencer Loverock for keeping his nose to the grindstone, and keeping focussed on the game in front of him. Bo Brauer and Spencer Hewson both were business-first players from puck drop and played hard in the neutral zone and Hewson was the best penalty killer on the ice tonight. Austin Dick also had the puck ALOT, and never seemed to lose it unless he was passing off to a team mate.

Your Centennials have a home-and-home series with the struggling Surrey Eagles this coming weekend, beginning in the Nicola Valley on Friday night! Puck drop is 7:30, and it's the final home game before the BCHL Five Hole for Food Challenge, which takes place November 30th!

The 2nd game of the weekend goes on Saturday in Surrey, puck drop is 7:00. As always, your Norgaard Ready Mix Pregame show begins 30 minutes prior to game time!

Centennials Begin Weekend Double Header With Home Ice Win:

To step up and lead a team to victory in the BCHL is a task that takes tremendous character and desire to succeed, and that is exactly what Scotty Patterson exemplified on Friday night as his two goals helped the Merritt Centennials slip by the Langley Rivermen 2-1.

The Centennials got another equally credited effort from the goaltender Devin Kero, who made 33 saves in the victory, many of them were a result of a strongly positioned Kero.

Both of the Centennials goals were assisted by Sebastien Pare and Jake Clifford, who both chipped in with very strong games among many other Cents. Marcus Vela scored the lone Langley goal early in the game.

With the victory, the Centennials jump right in to top spot in the Interior Division with a record of 13-9-1-0. The Mainland Division leading Rivermen fell to 13-6-1-1 on the season, with a single point lead over Prince George.

Marcus Vela opened the scoring just 1:02 in to the game when he moved in to the Cents zone on the left wing and caught Devin Kero off guard, slipping the puck between his legs. The clubs exchanged opportunities over the next 10 minutes or so, and at the 13:41 mark the Centennials struck back as Jake Clifford moved the puck up ice and attempted to fire it up to Patterson but the biscuit would slide to Pare first as he set up Patterson for a big time shot in the low left circle that beat Steve Myland to tie the game. Both teams had a single penalty in the period, but Dylan Bowen's minor extended in to the second period as the Rivermen outshot Merritt 11-5 in the period. That number did get changed to 11-5 Merritt on the BCHL box score, but I am not sure when/why that got reversed.

The early stages of the middle period had the Rivermen set up their powerplay early but a strong shorthanded effort from the 'caged' Centennials in Diego Cuglietta and Rhett Willcox killed it off and got their team momentum. Clifford moved up the right side boards just over 2:00 in to the period, chucked it ahead to Pare who once again found Patterson, who as the goal call stated, "He roofed it!", 2-1 Cents. After the goal, the two teams had to turn to developing everything and anything, but opportunities became fairly scarce with several neutral zone whistles and a fair share of penalties as well. Adam Tracey took a hard knee-on-knee collision early in the period, and did not return to the game as Cuglietta filled in for the most part with Zach Hartley and Willcox. Langley had a 13-11 shot advantage in the period, but at that point trailed the game 2-1.

Another player who played a strong game in a Cents jersey was AP Luke Santerno. It was his BCHL debut and he looked very comfortable, especially in the latter stages of the game when Coach Joe Martin gave him opportunities to strut his stuff. The game had an increased physical presence as it wore on, and you have to commend Ref Brandon Liefke for keeping everyones emotions in check, as both teams had just four man advantages. Saturday night has the potential to see a carry-over, so make sure to tune in to another exciting game! At one point late in the period, Mitch McLain turned the puck up ice and moved towards Kero and Cents goal before putting the puck in the net as he crashed in to the goaltender. The officiating crew consulted the goal, but waved it off. From my view, the puck was in the net before the net was off, although it may have been a goalie interference penalty, which would've negated the goal anyways. Merritt ended up hanging on for a squeaker, as the Rivermen pressed but couldn't beat Kero to tie the game up.

Strong games were turned in by many Cents, as I mentioned, but a side note needs to be made on the game played by Gavin Gould, Sam Johnson, Devin Oakes, and Malik Kaila on the back end. All four players played very strong in all areas of the ice and their legs were always moving. Not to mention more than one of those guys had to stand up for a team mate at some point of the game.

Merritt is on the road on Saturday in Langley for Part 2 of the home-and-home series, beginning at 7:15 from Langley Events Centre. Tune in to Q101 as the Norgaard Ready Mix Pregame Show begins at 6:45!

After a trip to Langley, it's another near-week off, before the Vernon Vipers are in Merritt Friday of next week for their first visit of the season! Come down to the rink early and see Graham Turnbull, former voice of the Cents!

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