Merritt Centennials
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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/

 

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The Merritt Centennials ran out of steam in their final game of the weekend against the Vernon Vipers and fell by a score of 5-1.

The first period didn’t start the way the Centennials hoped as in the first minute Matt Kowalski failed a Michigan attempt but the puck went right to the goal mouth for Ryan Shostak who scored to make it 1-0 early on. Shostak would add another one in the first period set up by Kowalski back door to make it 2-0, and the Cents would find themselves in a hole early. Tanner Marshall had a buzzer beating save in the dying seconds on a breakaway to keep the team trailing by two. Shots after one were 16-9 Vernon.

Brophy Dunne was able to answer early for the Cents in the second period with a floater from the blue line top corner to make it 2-1, but Jack Glen and the Vipers would answer a couple minutes later to make it 3-1, and despite plenty of pressure throughout the second and 16 shots thrown on the Cents couldn’t add another one. Shots after 2 were 25-25.

In the third with the Cents needing one early to give them a shot of adrenaline to the legs, it was the Vipers who’d add another one early in the third from Bulawka. The Vipers would then get an early powerplay, and Jackson Caller would convert to make it 5-1. The Cents ran out of gas in the third and only mustered 3 shots to the Vipers 20. Final shots were 45-28.

After the game Assistant Coach Zach Wright said the chances were there, but the Cents couldn’t convert.

“The boys were putting the pressure on in that 2nd period and you felt if they could get one it could turn the game around. We couldn’t find it and we ran out of legs.”

The Cents will look to get back in the win column in their final game on home ice this Saturday – Ty Pozzobon Mental Health Night. This Wednesday you can join the team at Empty Keg Brewhouse from 5-9pm for the last meet and greet of the season.

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The Merritt Centennials (13-38-1-3) look to continue one of their best weekends of the year against the Vernon Vipers (29-23-2-1) this afternoon. 

On Sunday, the Merritt Centennials continued to roll on one of their final home stands of the year winning big over the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 7-4. The Cents picked up where they left off on the powerplay as an early opportunity led to an early goal. Once again it was some quick puck movement around the zone, and a tap in for Evan Benwell at the back door to open the scoring 1-0. The Bulldogs would answer as leading scorer Ryan Doolin sniped from the wall after the Bulldogs started to put the pressure on. The Cents were able to answer when Jake McLean made a pass out of the corner onto the doorstep for Thomas Manty who scored his first of the game. Chase Nameth then scored on a cheeky play from the end boards as his no-look backhand pass found Payton Matsui out front who was able to go upstairs on Bird for the third goal of the period. Pascoal was able to bring the Bulldogs within one when he deflected former Cent Mattias Dal Monte's point shot past Winter to make it 3-2 after 20 minutes. The middle frame saw the Bulldogs start to put the pressure on, but the Cents weathered the storm. At the 8 minute mark Dal Monte lowered a big hit at centre ice on Jerzy Orchard and would exit the game on a 5 minute major, and the Cents would get a slew of penalties in their favour in the aftermath. Christian Buono would draw a double minor for high sticking to make it a lengthy 2 man advantage. Despite all the powerplay time, the Cents would only muster one goal from the stick of Thomas Manty - a wirejob top corner glove side to make it 4-2. The final stanza saw the Cents stretch their lead thanks to special teams. Payton Matsui added his team leading 4th shorthanded goal after Thomas Manty found him the a cross ice feed. Evan Benwell added his 9th of the season after deflecting home a Talon Zakall point shot to make it 6-3. Chase Klassen would score his first in the BCHL in the final minute for the Bulldogs to make it 6-4, but that would lead to the Dogs pulling the goalie and gave Payton Matsui a crack at the empty net and he'd oblige with his hat trick goal and seal the win 7-4. 

The Vernon Vipers come into the game 3-2 in their last 5 and picked up a big 4-2 victory over the West Kelowna Warriors earlier this weekend. West K opened the scoring with a goal from John Evans, but the Vipers were able to answer with a goal in the 2nd period from Dawson Holt to send it to the third tied at 1-1. Logan Cash and Chris Felton were able to tally early in the 3rd to give the Vipers the 2 goal lead, before West K made a late push scoring shorthanded, but the Vipers were able to ice the game with an empty netter. Vernon finds themselves in the Interior Division shuffle. The 1 and 2 seeds have been locked down, but spots 3-5 are up for grabs between the Vipers, Silverbacks, and Wild. Once again the Cents have a chance to wreak havoc by playing spoiler. 

The season series sits 0-4-1 for the Cents. The most recent loss came a couple of Tuesday's ago by a score of 6-3. Before that the Vipers barely escaped with a shootout victory in the Teddy Bear Toss miracle 8-7, They've also won by scores of 8-3, 3-2, and 5-2 throughout the year, but the Cents despite being out of the playoff race and short bodies have been playing some inspired hockey of late and are looking to continue that on a Family Day Monday. 

The Cents got a huge night from their top scorer Payton Matsui who has shot up 5 points to 44, Christian Buono has 34 points, and Thomas Manty has 31. 

The Vipers are led by top 10 scorer Matt Kowalski with 56 points, Dawson Holt and Captain Connor Marritt have 43 points a piece. 

The special teams battle sees the Cents starting to heat up with the extra man. 

Powerplay:                          Penalty Kill: 

Cents - 13.4% (17th)     Cents - 71.9% (17th)

Vipers - 16.7% (11th)   Vipers - 84.9% (5th)

Both Cent netminders are feeling good about their game after picking up wins in their most recent outings. Tanner Marshall is 7-18 with a .881 SV% and a 4.86 GAA. Ryan Winter is 5-19-1 with a .892 SV%, a 4.38 GAA, and 1 shutout. 

The Vipers are led by Reilly Herbst in the blue paint. He's 19-9-2 with a 2.90 GAA, a .902 SV% and 1 shutout. Keegan Karki is the newest goaltender in Vernon and is 3-2 with an .894 SV% and a 2.89 GAA. 

Assistant Coach Paul Barnes says the Cents need to put together another full game effort.

"The pressure is off and the team is playing well. It's another night where if we play the full 60 minutes we will get rewarded."

The Cents will look to put a full sweep on the weekend this afternoon. 

Puck drop 2pm. Pregame 1:45 on Q101 and Hockey TV with Jared Thomas and Michael Reeve. 

A reminder to sign up for the Cents online 50/50 which has now reached a pot of $2292 with the draw going Tuesday afternoon here: https://centsweekly5050.thelottofactory.com/

 

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The Merritt Centennials continued to roll on one of their final home stands of the year winning big over the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 7-4. 

The Cents picked up where they left off on the powerplay as an early opportunity led to an early goal. Once again it was some quick puck movement around the zone, and a tap in for Evan Benwell at the back door to open the scoring 1-0. The Bulldogs would answer as leading scorer Ryan Doolin sniped from the wall after the Bulldogs started to put the pressure on. The Cents were able to answer when Jake McLean made a pass out of the corner onto the doorstep for Thomas Manty who scored his first of the game. Chase Nameth then scored on a cheeky play from the end boards as his no-look backhand pass found Payton Matsui out front who was able to go upstairs on Bird for the third goal of the period. Pascoal was able to bring the Bulldogs within one when he deflected former Cent Mattias Dal Monte's point shot past Winter to make it 3-2 after 20 minutes. Shots after 1 were 17-12 Bulldogs. 

The middle frame saw the Bulldogs start to put the pressure on, but the Cents weathered the storm. At the 8 minute mark Dal Monte lowered a big hit at centre ice on Jerzy Orchard and would exit the game on a 5 minute major, and the Cents would get a slew of penalties in their favour in the aftermath. Christian Buono would draw a double minor for high sticking to make it a lengthy 2 man advantage. Despite all the powerplay time, the Cents would only muster one goal from the stick of Thomas Manty - a wirejob top corner glove side to make it 4-2. Shots after 2 were 28-27 Cents. 

The final stanza saw the Cents stretch their lead thanks to special teams. Payton Matsui added his team leading 4th shorthanded goal after Thomas Manty found him the a cross ice feed. Evan Benwell added his 9th of the season after deflecting home a Talon Zakall point shot to make it 6-3. Chase Klassen would score his first in the BCHL in the final minute for the Bulldogs to make it 6-4, but that would lead to the Dogs pulling the goalie and gave Payton Matsui a crack at the empty net and he'd oblige with his hat trick goal and seal the win 7-4. Final shots were 44-35. 

After the game Assistant Coach Paul Barnes said the Cents gave it their all for the whole game. 

"The pressure is off and the team is playing well. It's another night where they played the full 60 minutes and got rewarded for their efforts."

The Cents have taken care of business at home but still have one more game. Tomorrow afternoon against the Vernon Vipers at 2pm. 

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The Merritt Centennials (12-38-1-3) take on former Head Coach Joe Martin and the Alberni Valley Bulldogs (25-25-2-2) this afternoon. 

The Merritt Centennials achieved something last night they hadn't done since November 23rd of 2019 - pick up a win on home ice, and it came against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks 4-2 on a night where they honored Brian Barrett, Merritt's Mr. Hockey. The first period didn't have any goals, but it had some solid physicality with a couple crunching hits from Brody Johnston and Brophy Dunne. The Cents carried the chances, but were unable to convert on a night where they were short 2 bodies up front and 1 on the backend. In the middle frame, things started to heat up. Despite an early powerplay for the Cents, Salmon Arm was able to tally one shorthanded after a turnover to Luke Mylymok he was able to set up Will Poirier for a breakaway from the blueline and he made the Cents pay with a move to the backhand in tight. The goal came just 2 minutes in to the 2nd, but with 2 minutes left Talon Zakall was able to fire a seeing eye shot through the crowd and find the top corner blocker side to tie the game 1-1 after 40 minutes of play. Shots after 2 were 26-24 Cents. The Cents were able to use their powerplay to power themselves to victory in the 3rd period. A nifty tic tac toe play was finished off by Evan Benwell after some quick passing from Thomas Manty and Christian Buono. The Silverbacks were able to even the score on a powerplay of their own after a shot thrown wide, bounced off the end boards, then off the heel of Marshall's skate, and out to Noah Wakeford who was able to tap it home to tie the game 2-2. The Cents earned themselves another powerplay, and Thomas Manty blasted a one timer past Adams to restore the one goal lead 3-2. Late in the game, with the net empty for the 'Backs, Payton Matsui fearlessly blocked a shot and it came free to Daniel Tkac who fired it down the ice to make it a 4-2 final. Final shots were 37-33 Salmon Arm. 

The Bulldogs are finishing up their Interior road swing where they've taken on the top two teams in the division losing 5-0 to the Trail Smoke Eaters and 3-2 in overtime to the Penticton Vees. The Dogs have been beat up between the pipes as they're rocking a double emergency back up situation, much like the Cents were earlier in the season. Despite that they took the Vees to the brink last night where keen WHL pick up Matt Grouchy and Captain Mitch Deelstra scored to give the Bulldogs a 2-1 edge. That was what they held all the way until the final 9 seconds of the game when Jackson Neidermayer sent the game to overtime. Steve Holz was able to secure the game for Penticton just 16 seconds into OT. In their last 5 games, the Bulldogs are 1-3-1. Their lone win of late came 3-2 over the Powell River Kings. 

The Cents and Bulldogs have met twice already this season. Once back at the BCHL Showcase, and once in early December. At the showcase, the Cents fell by a score of 4-1, and in early December the teams went the distance to a shootout. After the Cents were up 3-0 after 40 minutes, the Bulldogs battled back to tie the game and send it to extras. 

The Cents and fans will be wondering who will lead the way after so many bodies went down yesterday. Payton Matsui continues to lead the way with 39 points, Christian Buono chipped in with an assist last night and is up to 34, and Daniel Tkac and Thomas Manty are sitting at 28 points. 

The Bulldogs are led by Ryan Doolin up front with 50 points, Captain Mitch Deelstra has 48 points, and defender Tim Gould has chipped in with 33 points. 

The special teams battle sees the Cents coming off a two goal night with the extra man and will look to keep the momentum going. 

Powerplay:                               Penalty Kill: 

Cents - 12.4% (17th)          Cents - 71.9% (17th)

Dogs - 15.2% (15th)            Dogs - 81.2% (10th) 

The battle in the blue paint sees Tanner Marshall coming off a great performance. He is now 7-18 with  a .881 SV% and a 4.86 GAA. Ryan Winter is 4-19-1 with a .892 SV%, a 4.40 GAA, and 1 shutout. 

The Bulldogs don't have their two regulars available this weekend. Draft prospect Jackson Glassford and Luke Pearson are on the shelf, and a couple of emergency back ups have stepped in. Carlo Siso is 1-1 with an .885 SV% and a 3.84 GAA. Scott Bird is 0-0-1 with a 2.99 GAA and a .909 SV%. 

Head Coach Derek Sweet Coulter says the team needs to have the same attitude that gave them success last night. 

"The boys played a full team game last night. If they can execute the same way this afternoon, then we are going to be successful."

The Cents will look to finish this home stand strong this afternoon. 

Puck drop 2pm. Pregame 1:45 on Q101 and Hockey TV with Jared Thomas and Michael Reeve. 

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