The Merritt Centennials (10-34-1-3) face off against a familiar foe in the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (24-20-3-1) tonight.
The Centennials are coming off a game where they showed they have the determination to climb back in games, but may have wished they didn't put their opponent up by 3 in the first period. Chilliwack was able to seize the a 3-0 lead after the first period on Wednesday night, but to the Cents credit they battled back in the second with goals from Evan Benwell, a shorthanded breakaway from Wyatt Marlow, and a snipe from Thomas Manty. In the third period, the Chiefs were able to grab the lead back to make it 4-3. Josh Van Unen had a penalty shot try that he was unsuccessful on, but on the following faceoff he was able to tee up Brophy Dunne for his first goal in the BCHL to tie the game. Late in the frame the zebras were out in force giving the Chiefs a two man advantage and they were able to pull ahead 5-4. The Cents didn't fade into the night, they kept pushing for the late equalizer with Hunor Torzsok ripping a shot off the bar before the Chiefs collected the puck and threw it all the way down the ice into the open net to seal the Cents fate 6-4. The Cents have shown they have the desperation to pick up points, they just need to have it from the starting buzzer.
The Salmon Arm Silverbacks are coming in off the heels of a much needed win against the Surrey Eagles 3-2. Unruh, Noah Wakeford, and Wolford all tallied for Salmon Arm as they got two goals on the powerplay, but before that win the Silverbacks had dropped 4 games in a row albeit two of them in OT. January hasn't been kind to the 'Backs as they've gone 3-5-2, although from a Centennials perspective they can't be looking down on any team and need to be prepared for another battle between these division rivals. The Silverbacks and Centennials always seem to get the best out of each other and tonight should be no different.
The Cents will be looking for the kind of scoring they had on Wednesday, with some likely and unlikely sources contributing. Christian Buono has snuck back into the team lead with 32 points, Payton Matsui has 31, and Daniel Tkac has 25.
The Silverbacks are led by their Captain and leading scorer amongst defensemen in the BCHL Akito Hirose with 47 points. Noah Wakeford has 46 points and shifty forward Daniel Rybarik has 40 points.
The special teams battle sees the Cents looking to capitalize with the extra man once more after being shutout against Chilliwack.
Powerplay: Penalty Kill:
Cents - 11% (17th) Cents - 72.8% (17th)
'Backs - 18.6% (9th) Cents - 78.4% (12th)
The battle in the blue paint sees Ryan Winter continuing his search for win number 4 on the season. He is 3-16-1 with an .895 SV%, a 4.23 GAA, and 1 shutout. Tanner Marshall is 6-17 with an .880 SV% and a 4.91 GAA.
The Silverbacks have had the steady hand of Ethan Langenegger and a changing supporting cast. Langenegger is 19-14-1 with a .908 SV%, a 2.81 GAA and 2 shutouts. Grant Adams is the new backup and is 2-2-1 with a .906 SV% and a 2.98 GAA.
Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter says that if the Cents give the same effort they had in the final 40 minutes on Wednesday they won't be denied.
"We saw this team push, and push hard to get back in the game, and when things didn't go right they worked hard to get the game back on track and didn't quit. If they continue to work like that they'll get the results they want."
The Cents are hoping they won't be denied a win tonight.
Puck drop 7pm. Pregame 6:45 on Q101 and HockeyTV with Jared Thomas.