Merritt Centennials
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The Cents ground out a text book road game that didn't have a deciding factor until a goal with 3 seconds remaining gave the Cents the edge over the Spruce Kings. 

The first period didn't have a lot going for either side save some penalties. The Cents made 3 trips to the sin bin along with 2 misconducts, but were able to kill all of the Spruce Kings attempts. Rookie netminder and native of the North, Colton Phillips-Watts was a big part of the penalty kill and held the team in the period. The Cents got a pair of powerplay opportunities but weren't able to make good on them. Shots after 1 were 9-5 PG. 

In the second period the offense started to roll, Nick Rheaume went to the box for interference and the Cents went to the powerplay. With the extra man, the puck was worked up to Grayson Valente and he was able to walk down the left side and fire an off-angle rocket to make open the scoring. The Cents took just one penalty in the second period, and were able to play much more disciplined on the road, but squandered a two-man advantage late in the frame. Andrew Seaman leveled the score after some pretty passing by PG to make it 1-1. Shots after 2 were 17-10. 

The final frame saw both teams jockey for position and the go ahead goal. Colton Phillips-Watts made some quality stops to keep the team in it and the game tied. An early penalty by Erichuk was killed off and it wasn't until a late too many men call that the Centennials got their golden opportunity. With just 32 seconds left Derek Sweet-Coulter called his time out, drew up his play and the players executed. After the puck swung round to the right point, Talon Zakall gathered the loose puck, fired low and Ben Ward caught a piece in front to put it past Trotter and deliver the Cents to victory with just 3 seconds remaining. Final shots were 25-17. 

The Cents now have another couple weeks before they meet the Spruce Kings again on November 7th. 

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For the third time in a row, and the 2nd time in 48 hours the Merritt Centennials (0-2) look to solve the Prince George Spruce Kings (2-0). 

On Friday night, The Merritt Centennials managed to fight their way back into the game by the end of the 2nd period, but the final frame got away from them and the Spruce Kings skated to a 6-2 victory.

The first period started much better than the initial exhibition contest with some early powerplay chances. The Cents made good on their second powerplay of the night as Trevor Isaksson collected the puck off a face-off and blasted it top corner blocker-side to give the Cents their first lead of exhibition play. Unfortunately, it wouldn't last as the Prince George would convert on their first powerplay of the night executing a picture perfect slap-pass from Cunningham to Rowan Miller to the back of the net, upstairs, blocker-side on Josh Dias. 

With a tie game heading into the middle stanza, the Cents came out of the gate a little flat and Prince George got chance after chance. 4 minutes and change in Andrew Seaman streaked down the wing with 4-on-4 hockey, pulled to the backhand and beat an outstretched Dias to the far post to make it 2-1. At the 9:16 mark, the Spruce Kings converted on an odd man rush with Mason Waite finishing off a 3-on-2 with a one-timer on the off-wing that beat Dias up high despite a highlight real attempt to make the save. Prince George continued to have the Cents on the ropes until Jacksenn Hungle was finally able to give the Cents some life. Throwing his body around, he was sent in all alone on a breakaway, deked to the forehand, and went bar-down to make the game 3-2. The Cents appeared to get a shot in the arm after the goal, but couldn't get any more offense in the period.

The game was up for the taking in the final frame, and it was the Spruce Kings who did the taking. John Herrington managed to stuff one in from the side of the net that was the lone blemish on Dias' night from a goaltending perspective. Tanner Main sniped high on the powerplay through a heavy screen to make it 5-2. Late in the contest with the game seemingly out of reach, Coach Sweet-Coulter used it as an opportunity to pretend the team was trailing by a closer tally, pulling the goalie with over 2 minutes to go. Despite some solid pressure and some good chances Christian Buono iced the game with 17 seconds left to make it 6-2. 

After two attempts to get past the Spruce Kings, the Cents will be hoping that the third time is the charm, but for the first time they will have to battle a road trip. It could help bring the team together, but the distance to PG is one of the longest trips for the Centennials and shaking out the road rust will be key early on. 

The Cents doubled their offensive output on Friday night with two goals compared to game 1's one, but will need more than that to get past the veteran laden Spruce Kings. A pair of veteran defenders lead the way with Trevor Isaksson and Liam Visram picking up a pair of points so far, while young Jacksenn Hungle and Jerzy Orchard have added goals. 

The Spruce Kings are led by crafty Corey Cunningham with 4 points, Andrew Seaman collected 3 in game 2, and they have 6 other players with at least two points. 

Special teams has been a source of strength so far for the Spruce Kings, while the Centennials are trending in the right direction. 

Powerplay:                      Penalty Kill: 

PG - 30.2% (2nd)            PG - 92.3% (3rd)

Cents - 7.7% (16th)        Cents - 69.2% (16th)

After some strong efforts between the pipes the Cents are going to give veteran Josh Dias a night off. Colton Phillips-Watts will make his BCHL debut. In 20 games last season, he went 2-15 with a 3.15 GAA and a .905SV% last season with the Kootenay Ice in the BC U18 AAA league. 

The Spruce Kings have seen both their goaltenders record a win in the crease. Aaron Trotter is 1-0 with a .964S V% and a 1.00 GAA. Jordan Fairlee is 1-0 with a .905 SV% and a 2.00 GAA. 

After the game on Friday, Assistant Coach Paul Barnes said the Cents need to have a consistent effort.

"We had some decent stretches, but we definitely didn't come to play a full 60 minutes. We need everyone to be playing their best for the full game if we want to have a chance, and there wasn't enough players who had that tonight."

The Cents will look to put the work in for the win this afternoon. Puck drop 3pm. Pregame 2:45 on Q101 with Jared Thomas and Michael Reeve. Due to Covid restrictions the broadcast team will not journey to Prince George so the away broadcast will not be available on HockeyTV, however, you can listen to the voice of the Spruce Kings Cole Waldie.

A reminder that you can be in the building with a Super Fan Cutout! Snap a pic of yourself from the waist up, or get a copy of your favourite player in the stands. Send the photo along with a $50 etransfer to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Fans looking to watch the game can also go Boston Pizza for their watch party and enter to win a free small pizza with their shots on goal contest. 

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The Merritt Centennials managed to fight their way back into the game by the end of the 2nd period, but the final frame got away from them and the Spruce Kings skated to a 6-2 victory.

The first period started much better than the initial exhibition contest with some early powerplay chances. The Cents made good on their second powerplay of the night as Trevor Isaksson collected the puck off a face-off and blasted it top corner blocker-side to give the Cents their first lead of exhibition play. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t last as the Prince George would convert on their first powerplay of the night executing a picture perfect slap-pass from Cunningham to Rowan Miller to the back of the net, upstairs, blocker-side on Josh Dias. The first period would end all square at 1-1 with shots favouring the Cents 13-7.

With a tie game heading into the middle stanza, the Cents came out of the gate a little flat and Prince George got chance after chance. 4 minutes and change in Andrew Seaman streaked down the wing with 4-on-4 hockey, pulled to the backhand and beat an outstretched Dias to the far post to make it 2-1. At the 9:16 mark, the Spruce Kings converted on an odd man rush with Mason Waite finishing off a 3-on-2 with a one-timer on the off-wing that beat Dias up high despite a highlight real attempt to make the save. Prince George continued to have the Cents on the ropes until Jacksenn Hungle was finally able to give the Cents some life. Throwing his body around, he was sent in all alone on a breakaway, deked to the forehand, and went bar-down to make the game 3-2. The Cents appeared to get a shot in the arm after the goal, but couldn’t get any more offense in the period. Shots after 2 were 25-21 PG.

The game was up for the taking in the final frame, and it was the Spruce Kings who did the taking. John Herrington managed to stuff one in from the side of the net that was the lone blemish on Dias’ night from a goaltending perspective. Tanner Main sniped high on the powerplay through a heavy screen to make it 5-2. Late in the contest with the game seemingly out of reach, Coach Sweet-Coulter used it as an opportunity to pretend the team was trailing by a closer tally, pulling the goalie with over 2 minutes to go. Despite some solid pressure and some good chances Christian Buono iced the game with 17 seconds left to make it 6-2. Final shots were 34-27.

After the game, Assistant Coach Paul Barnes said the Cents didn’t give a consistent enough effort.

“We had some decent stretches, but we definitely didn’t come to play a full 60 minutes. We need everyone to be playing their best for the full game if we want to have a chance, and there wasn’t enough players who had that tonight.”

The teams won’t get much time to rest on the result as they get back at it on Sunday afternoon – 3pm puck drop. 2:45 pregame on Q101.

 

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The Merritt Centennials (0-1-0) get set to hit reset against the Prince George Spruce Kings (1-0-0) tonight.

Looking back to the exhibition opener on  October 10th against PG, the Cents were unable to get the offense going coming up with a 4-1 defeat. It took a while for the teams to find their footing in the first period as both teams were playing their first competitive games since early March and at times it showed. The Cents were also dealing with some young faces in the line up that were battling nerves along with the opponent and it was a pair of BCHL veterans who opened the scoring on the powerplay for PG. Former Cent Christian Buono found Rowan Miller for a one timer on the powerplay to make it 1-0. Prince George kept the pressure on when another former Cent Hunor Torzsok gained the left wing and centered for a streaking Max Borovinskiy and the young forward was able to pick his way towards the net before putting it past an outstretched Dias to make it 2-0.

The Cents were hoping to come out of the dressing room with a little more fire, but they ended up being under fire from Prince George. After an early scrum in front, Grayson Valente was called for a misconduct for a scrum after the whistle and on the ensuing draw off a set play Corey Cunningham was able to collect a loose puck, pull to the backhand and tuck it five-hole to make it 3-0 PG. The Cents seemed to spiral for a moment after that point, and Derek Sweet-Coulter called a time out to try and settle the team. The gambit seemed to pay dividends, but it didn’t help the bottom line. Nick Rheaume was able to convert another goal for the Spruce Kings before the Cents finally found an answer. On the attack in the offensive zone, Jerzy Orchard picked the puck out of the corner, skated off the wall to the right dot and ripped a low shot five-hole to finally beat the rookie Aaron Trotter. The 2nd period buzzer saved the Spruce Kings as the Cents were starting to turn it on.

In the final frame the teams traded penalties, skated 4-on-4, 5-on-3 and everything in between. Despite chances a plenty the goaltenders handled all comers the rest of the way to make it a 4-1 final. Josh Dias held the team in it with a handful of sensational saves. Final shots were 32-28 Prince George.

The Cents hope that after a couple hard weeks of practice they can test their might against the veteran laden Spruce Kings once more and come away with a win.

The special teams battle left something to be desired from both clubs. Prince George was able to capitalize on their first opportunity, but the Cents penalty kill shut the door from then on while the Cents took themselves off the powerplay on too many occasions and couldn’t find a rhythm.

Powerplay:                         Penalty Kill:

PG – 12.5% (10th)              PG – 100% (T-1st)

Cents – 0% (16th)              Cents – 87.5% (7th)

In the blue paint, Josh Dias got his first taste of BCHL action and held the young Cents in the game with some sensational saves. Dias stopped 28/32 shots for a .875 SV% and 4 goals allowed. He will get the call again tonight as Colton Phillips-Watts watches on.

Aaron Trotter played exceptionally after making the jump from the CSSHL to exhibition play. The Shawnigan Lake alum stopped 27/28 shots for a .964 SV% and only had one goal get past him. Former Cents affiliate Carter Woodside is waiting for his first shot at exhibition action.

Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter says he’s hoping the opportunity to learn and use video from the first contest will help his team out.

“We were able to get a little bit of everything from the last game – the good, the bad, and the ugly and that’s what you need to learn and grow. We’ve gone over the tape, gone over the systems and now we are ready for another test.”

The Cents will look to help themselves to their first win of the exhibition season.

Puck drop 7pm. Pre-game 6:45 on HockeyTV and Q101. Watch Party at Boston Pizza Merritt!

If you’d like to show your support from a distance the Cents have a couple new initiatives for fans. The Super Fan Cutout – where you send a photo of yourself, or we can use one of your favourite player – to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. along with a $50 e-transfer (per cutout) and we will put you in the stands to ‘cheer’ on the boys.

Supporters are also organizing a drive-by parade and are gathering at the Lawn Bowling Parking lot at 5:10 to cruise down Garcia and make some noise for the boys.

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The Merritt Centennials opened their exhibition schedule on Saturday night against the Spruce Kings and were unable to get the offense going, coming up with a 4-1 defeat.

It took a while for the teams to find their footing in the first period as both teams were playing their first competitive games since early March and at times it showed. The Cents were also dealing with some young faces in the line up that were battling nerves along with the opponent and it was a pair of BCHL veterans who opened the scoring on the powerplay for PG. Former Cent Christian Buono found Rowan Miller for a one timer on the powerplay to make it 1-0. Prince George kept the pressure on when another former Cent Hunor Torzsok gained the left wing and centered for a streaking Max Borovinskiy and the young forward was able to pick his way towards the net before putting it past an outstretched Dias to make it 2-0. Penalties would ensue but no more scoring would result as the teams skated to the tunnel at the same score. Shots after 1 were 14-9 Spruce Kings.

The Cents were hoping to come out of the dressing room with a little more fire, but they ended up being under fire from Prince George. After an early scrum in front, Grayson Valente was called for a misconduct for a scrum after the whistle and on the ensuing draw off a set play Corey Cunningham was able to collect a loose puck, pull to the backhand and tuck it five-hole to make it 3-0 PG. The Cents seemed to spiral for a moment after that point, and Derek Sweet-Coulter called a time out to try and settle the team. The gambit seemed to pay dividends, but it didn't help the bottom line. Nick Rheaume was able to convert another goal for the Spruce Kings before the Cents finally found an answer. On the attack in the offensive zone, Jerzy Orchard picked the puck out of the corner, skated off the wall to the right dot and ripped a low shot five-hole to finally beat the rookie Aaron Trotter. The 2nd period buzzer saved the Spruce Kings as the Cents were starting to turn it on. Shots after 2 were 25-20 PG.

In the final frame the teams traded penalties, skated 4-on-4, 5-on-3 and everything in between. Despite chances a plenty the goaltenders handled all comers the rest of the way to make it a 4-1 final. Josh Dias held the team in it with a handful of sensational saves. Final shots were 32-28 Prince George.

After the game, Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter said he'd like to see the team help each other a little more.

"We did okay through parts of the game, but we spent a while not doing the little things right. We needed to support each other more in the offensive zone and avoid those one and done chances."

The Cents will get nearly 2 weeks of practice in before their next test on October 23rd when the Cents and Spruce Kings do it all again.

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