The Merritt Centennials (13-39-1-3) take on Interior Division foes the Trail Smoke Eaters (36-16-2-2) on Ty Pozzobon Mental Health Night.
The Centennials mental health has been improving of late as their play on the ice has been improving. They are 3-2 in their last 5 in the late goings of the season, and will look to finish strong on home ice in their final game of the season in front of the faithful at the NVMA. The Centennials are coming off a weekend where they took 2 of 3, and took both home games before running out of gas with the short bench against the Vipers. The Cents had a gutsy 4-2 win against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, an offensive explosion against former Head Coach Joe Martin and the Alberni Valley Bulldogs winning 7-4, but as mentioned the Cents couldn't keep up their torrid pace with the short bench against the Vipers falling 5-1. A pair of Cents are coming off honorable mentions in the BCHL Player of the Week - Thomas Manty had 3 goals and 4 assists for 7 points over 3 games, while Talon Zakall had a goal and 5 assists for 6 points over 3 games. The Cents will look to set the tone to finish off the season right against the Trail Smoke Eaters.
The Smokies are coming in with a 3-2 record of their own in the last 5 after being in action last night against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks and winning 5-1. Chase Dafoe had a breakout game after being thrust into a larger role as he scored a hat trick. Costello had a goal in the first period and Jaden Senkoe had a momentum stopping goal against the Silverbacks when they tried to answer the bell for a 3rd period push while goaltender Logan Terness picked up win number 27 on the year. Before that they were able to get past West K 5-2, dropped a 5-2 decision to the BCHL's best Coquitlam Express, they won 5-0 against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, and lost to the Vernon Vipers 5-3. The Smoke Eaters are going to be heading into their final game of action on the season, and they rested Kent Johnson last night against Salmon Arm. There's a chance the Cents could see a few more of the top guns kept out tonight, and it would be to the Cents advantage.
The season series doesn't look too pretty from the Centennials perspective if you just look at the score line. With the addition of a game at the BCHL Showcase the Cents are 0-6 against the Smoke Eaters this season. The losses have come in all shapes and all sizes 7-1, 9-2, 6-3, 5-2, 6-4, and 4-3. The Smoke Eaters even without their top guns will be a threat offensively, and the Cents will have to bring their best effort of the season series to come away with victory.
The Centennials are looking for more contributions from their leading scorers. Payton Matsui has shot up to 42 points, Christian Buono has 35 points, and Thomas Manty leads rookies with 33 points. Talon Zakall is next in line and leads the Cents defense with 27 points and is also playing in his 100th regular season BCHL game tonight.
The Smoke Eaters are led by Kent Johnson who has 101 points, Michael Collela has 65 points, Owen Ozar has 63, and Captain Phillipe Lapointe has 54 points. For those wondering how former Cent Matt Osadick is doing in the black and orange - he has 11 points in 14 games with Trail.
The special teams battle sees the Cents coming in with a bit of momentum with the extra man, but they'll be going up against the 3rd ranked power play and penalty kill.
Power Play: Penalty Kill:
Cents - 13.1% (17th) Cents - 72.1% (17th)
Trail - 23% (3rd) Trail - 86.3% (3rd)
The goaltending duel will be an intriguing one in terms of decisions. Ryan Winter, the 20 year old, should get the start in his final home game of his junior career. Winter is 5-19-1 with an .892 SV%, a 4.38 GAA, and 1 shutout. Tanner Marshall is 7-19 with an .882 SV% and a 4.86 GAA.
Fellow 20 year old Matteo Paler Chow is 12-11-1 with an .883 SV% and a 3.57 GAA. Logan Terness is 27-9-2 with a .932 SV%, a 2.35 GAA and 1 shutout.
Assistant Coach Zach Wright says the team will be refreshed after a tough 3 in 3 stretch.
"At the end of the last game, the boys were running on empty, but now with a full week to recharge they'll be looking to finish off strong."
The Cents will look to hit refresh in the win column against the Smoke Eaters tonight.
Puck drop 7pm. Pregame 6:45 on Q101 and Hockey TV with Jared Thomas and Michael Reeve.
Tonight is Mental Health night in support of the Ty Pozzobon foundation. Show up early to take in a pregame ceremony with the Pozzobon's and a special announcement. A&W will also be a game night sponsor with a Cents Signed Jersey up for grabs with a SHOOT TO WIN on the Root Bear in the 1st intermission. Musical Chairs with the Bear in the 2nd intermission.
Also a reminder to fans near and far (Canada wide) that you can sign up for the Planet Fitness Online Weekly 50/50 that has a jackpot of over $3000 here: https://centsweekly5050.thelottofactory.com/