Merritt Centennials
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The Merritt Centennials (10-37-1-3) look to bump the slump against the Prince George Spruce Kings (17-28-2-4) tonight.

The Centennials are coming off a game where they had destiny in their hands. After a slow start to a Tuesday night affair, the Cents drew two penalties in quick succession and were able to make the Vipers pay. Rylan Van Unen was able to pick his spot with a lazer upstairs on the 5 on 3 to open the scoring 1-0, and Ben Ward was able to barge his way to the goal mouth to score before the teams went back to even strength to make it 2-0. Vernon got one back on a powerplay of their own to make it 2-1 after 1 period of play. Jerzy Orchard opened the scoring in the second period with a cheeky attempt at a wraparound that was denied, so he went back to the near post to bank it off the goalie and in to make it 3-1. Despite the two goal lead, the Vipers woke up after that and scored 5 unanswered to come from behind and win 6-3. The Centennials are hoping for a similar start, but a different end to the game tonight.

The Prince George Spruce Kings haven't been as deadly as last season where they marched all the way to the RBC Cup finals, but they still represent a challenge in their own barn where they play a tight systems game. In their last five, the Spruce Kings are 1-3-0-1. Their most recent lost came on Wednesday night against the Wenatchee Wild in a tight 3-2 shootout loss. Before that they were able to top the surging West Kelowna Warriors 3-1, and previous to that dropped three games in a row to the Vernon Vipers 2-1, the Trail Smoke Eaters 9-2, and the Chilliwack Chiefs 6-5.

It won't be until next season that these teams will be divisional foes, and as such there's only been one game in the season series which the Cents won by a score of 4-2. Matsui, Torzsok, Kagan, and Osadick scored en route to victory, but with 2 of those scorers no longer in the lineup the Cents will look for different sources of offense. The Cents will also be battling their energy levels on the night as they will be without the services of any AP's and be two men short of a full deck.

The Cents are hoping for contributions from their top 3: Payton Matsui has 34 points, Christian Buono has 33, and Daniel Tkac has 26.

The team will have to be wary of the top guns on the Prince George Spruce Kings: Nick Poisson leads the way with 45 points, Corey Cunningham has 40, and Nolan Welsh has chipped in with 35.

The special teams battle sees the Cents looking for a better push on the PK after allowing 2 or more in the last 5 games played.

Powerplay:                          Penalty Kill:

Cents - 11.7% (17th)     Cents - 71.8% (17th)

PG - 18.3% (10th)           PG - 76.5% (14th)

In net the Cents goaltenders are hoping to hold the fort early on while the group gets out the road rust. Ryan Winter is 3-18-1 with an .893 SV%, a 4.93 GAA, and 1 shutout. Tanner Marshall is 6-18 with an .881 SV% and a 4.92 GAA.

Former affiliate for a game Carter Woodside has been somewhat of a savior for the Spruce Kings as he's now 5-7 with a .906 SV% and a 2.97 GAA. Jett Alexander is 12=19=1 with a .892 SV% and a 3.22 GAA.

Assistant Coach Paul Barnes says it's all about putting that full 60 minute effort together.

"We saw again the other night that the Cents put together a solid 30 minutes, but we need to go from start to finish to get the result we want."

The Cents will look to put their first win of 2020 together.

Puck drop 7pm from the RMCA with Jared Thomas on Q101 and Hockey TV.


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The Merritt Centennials started out strong, but the Vernon Vipers awoke and didn't look back as they scored 5 unanswered en route to a 6-3 Cents loss. 

The Tuesday night affair started out a little on the sleepy side as neither team found much purchase through the first 10 minutes. It wasn't until a pair of penalties to the Vipers that the Cents were able to open the scoring. Rylan Van Unen sniped top corner hockey to make it 1-0 with plenty of time remaining on the powerplay, and Ben Ward was able to tally on the powerplay as well as the Cents were able to shootout to a quick 2-0 lead. However, the Vipers were no slouches on their extra man advantage as Rylan Van Unen went off for slashing and the Vipers Captain Connor Marritt was able to tally to make it 2-1. That would be the score heading into the second period. Shots after 1 were 14-10 Cents. 

In the second period, the Cents had a solid start, but then things turned sour. Jerzy Orchard scored on a nifty wraparound, where he was denied on one side, but got a backhand to go on the other to make it 3-1. However, that awoke the Vipers and they'd score on the ensuing shift, and 4 unanswered. Max Bulawka, Ryan Shostak, Ben Helgeson, and Hunter Donohoe would all score in the 2nd period for the Vipers to know the Centennials back a peg. Shots after 2 were 30-24 Vipers. 

The final frame saw the Cents and Vipers skate at an even rate, but Nathan Kent would add his first in the BCHL to make it 6-3 Vernon. Ryan Winter stopped 39/45 shots in the losing effort. Final Shots 45-36 Vernon. 

After the game, Assistant Coach Paul Barnes said the Cents seemed to lose their way after the 3rd goal. 

"We kind of took our foot off the pedal after the third goal, and let the Vipers come back in the game. We need to keep pushing at those points and keep the pressure on."

The Centennials will look to rebound on the road against the Prince George Spruce Kings on Friday night. 

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The Merritt Centennials (10-36-1-3) take on the last team they picked up points against on home ice against the Vernon Vipers (26-21-2-1) tonight.

The Centennials are still in search of their first win of 2020 despite some solid efforts over the last week. The Cents fell in a tight defeat to the Chilliwack Chiefs 6-4 where they climbed themselves out of a 3 goal hole in the 2nd period, tied the game up in the 3rd, and surrendered a 5 on 3 and empty netter late to have the game slip out of their grasp. On Friday against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, the Cents opened the scoring with a shorthanded tally from Payton Matsui, and Matsui tied the game in the second period 2-2, but the 'Backs were able to take the reigns from there by scoring 4 unanswered to make it a 6-2 final. On Saturday at home, the Cents found themselves behind 3 goals again but managed to comeback with goals from Benwell and Torzsok but a penalty to Josh Van Unen gave the Silverbacks a goal on the PP to make it 4-2. The Cents got the early goal in the 3rd to point them in the right direction, but the Silverbacks were able to restore the two goal lead and win by a score of 5-3.

The Vernon Vipers are 2-3 in their last 5 and are coming off the heels of something the Cents know well, a Penticton Vees beat down. They lost by a score of 7-1 the last time out, but before that were able to rattle off two wins in a row with a 2-1 win against PG and a 4-3 win against the Wenatchee Wild. Before that they dropped a pair to the West Kelowna Warriors 4-1 and 3-2.

The Centennials will remember the last time they played the Vernon Vipers well as it was the last time they picked up points on home ice in the Teddy Bear Toss Miracle game where they came back from a 7-2 deficit to tie the game at 7's before falling in a shootout to Vernon. The season series sits at 0-3-1 with losses of 5-2, 3-2, 8-3, and that 8-7 shoot out loss. Hopefully playing an opponent they've had some success against will give the Cents the boost they need.

The Cents are led by Payton Matsui and Christian Buono at 33 points with Daniel Tkac sitting 3rd with 26.

Matt Kowalski has scored 50 points in 50 games and is 9th in BCHL scoring. Captain Connor Marritt has 35 points and Dawson Holt has 34, but overall the Vipers have a score by committee mentality.

The special teams battle sees the Cents looking to continue to improve.

Powerplay:                                  Penalty Kill:

Cents - 11.2% (17th)             Cents - 72.2% (17th)

Vipers - 15.8% (14th)            Vipers - 85.2% (4th)

In the blue paint the Cents netminders are looking to right the ship. Ryan Winter is 3-17-1 with an .894 SV%, a 4.31 GAA and 1 shutout. Tanner Marshall is 6-18 with an .881 SV% and a 4.92 GAA.

The Vipers have a solid option in Reilly Herbst who is 17-7-2 with a 2.84 GAA, a .904 SV% and 1 shutout. Keegan Karski is 2-2 with an .888 SV% and a 3.10 GAA.

Head Coach Derek Sweet Coulter says the Cents need to continue to avoid the little mistakes.

"There's been a couple little things from the last few games that if you can avoid, the outcome might be different. We avoid those and we will be good."

The Centennials will look to find their way to a win tonight.

Puck drop 7pm. Pregame 6:45 on Q101 and HockeyTV with Jared Thomas and Michael Reeve.

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The Merritt Centennials found themselves in a 3 goal hole once again, but couldn't climb themselves out on home ice in a 5-3 defeat. 

In the first period, the Cents and Silverbacks traded chances but no one could find a foothold early on. It wasn't until a broken play in front led to a chance to the side for Luke Mylymok and he was able to put it past Marshall for the first of the evening. The Cents couldn't find an answer in the first. Shots after one were low, but in favour of SA 12-6. 

As was the case the night previous, Salmon Arm jumped out to an early lead in the middle frame. Logan Shaw was able to pick the pocket of Jerzy Orchard after an ill advised pass from Ayden Lane found his feet. Shaw stole the puck and then sniped low on Marshall to make it 2-0. The 'Backs then got another from Mylymok as he had three cracks to the side of the net and was successful on the third try chipping it up and over Marshall to make it 3-0. After the BCHL media timeout, the Cents were able to get it together. Evan Benwell tipped home a Brody Johnston point shot, and then with the Cents on the PP birthday boy Hunor Torzsok was able to do the same. The Cents found themselves back within one, but then took themselves off to the penalty kill once more with Josh Van Unen being charged a double minor. The Silverbacks were able to score to restore the two goal lead, and make it 4-2 after 2. Shots were 36-26 Silverbacks. 

Talon Zakall got the Centennials the early goal they needed in the third period after blasting one from the line earl on, and the Cents looked to be back on the comeback trail. Once again, the Cents gave Salmon Arm a powerplay, and once again Salmon Arm converted to make it 5-3. The Cents tried to pull the keeper, but it couldn't spark the offense and the Silverbacks hung on. Final Shots were 44-37 Salmon Arm. 

After the game, Derek Sweet Coulter says the teams playing the right way, they just need to avoid those mistakes. 

"We are playing hard, we aren't giving up, we are battling to the end. It's the little mistakes that cost us. A turnover here, a penalty there. We need to try and learn from those mistakes and grow as a team."

The Cents will look to right the ship against the Vernon Vipers on Tuesday night at the NVMA. 

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The Merritt Centennials (10-35-1-3) complete a weekend home and home series against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (25-20-3-1) tonight.

The Cents and ‘Backs renewed acquaintances for the first time since early November last night with Salmon Arm skating away to a 6-2 victory. The game started well for Merritt who got an early shorthanded marker from Payton Matsui to take lead less than two minutes in. Salmon Arm would level the contest just after the midway point of the first frame with a goal from William Poirier and after one it was tied 1-1.

The second period would start off with a bang for the ‘Backs, with Drew Bennett tipping home an Akito Hirose shot just 15 seconds in. The assist for Captain Hirose was his 100th career BCHL helper. Matsui would even the scoring less than 90 seconds later with his second of the night. But from there Salmon Arm took control, scoring three unanswered, two on the power play, to take a 5-2 lead into the final stanza.

The final period was relatively uneventful. The Cents would squander a pair of power play opportunities, and the Silverbacks looked keen to bleed out the clock for victory. The ‘Backs would add a late marker from Logan Shaw to ice the game.

Ryan Winter was exceptional in the blue paint for the Cents, making 47 saves in the losing effort.

The season series now sits at 2-1 in favour of the Silverbacks. Game one was a 4-3 OT win for Salmon Arm at home. The following night at the NVMA the Cents edged the ‘Backs 6-5.

Thanks to a pair of goals last night Payton Matsui now leads the team with 33 points. Followed by Christian Buono with 32, and Daniel Tkac has 25. Matsui has 4 goals in just three games versus Salmon Arm this season.

The Silverbacks are led by their Captain and leading scorer amongst defensemen in the BCHL Akito Hirose with 48 points. Noah Wakeford has 46 points and shifty forward Daniel Rybarik has 42 points.

The special team’s battle sees the Cents looking to make some adjustments after going 0-3 on the PP last night. The PK will also look for a boast after allowing two goals in five attempts.

Powerplay:                           Penalty Kill:

Cents – 10.9% (17th)          Cents - 72.5% (17th)

'Backs - 19% (9th)               ‘Backs - 78.7% (12th)

The battle in the blue paint sees Ryan Winter continuing his search for win number 4 on the season. He is 3-17-1 with an .895 SV%, a 4.23 GAA, and 1 shutout. Birthday Boy 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 3-2-1 with a .906 SV% and a 2.98 GAA.

Assistant Coach Zach Wright believes the team is continuing to learn and build.

"We got some young guys out there and they’re playing big minutes. We’re learning and we’re building for the future.”

The Cents are hoping February will bring better luck after going pointless in January.

Puck drop 7pm. Pregame 6:45 on Q101 and HockeyTV with Jared Thomas and Michael Reeve.

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