Merritt Centennials
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The Merritt Centennials skated with the Penticton Vees through the final 40 minutes, but a 4 unanswered in the first from the Vees helped them to a 6-2 win.

The Vees were able to get after the Cents early and often in the first period. Conner Hutchison opened the scoring just 4:08 into the game, and a four minute stretch midway through the first led to 3 more goals from Drew Elser, Jay O’Brien and Danny Weight. Ryan Winter was peppered in his first period of a full start 16 the Cents 10.

Danny Weight added to the Vees lead at the 6:20 mark, and despite some solid play, possession, and effort from the Cents they weren’t able to pull through until a late penalty to Carson Kosobud. With the Cents on the powerplay, they were cycling the puck around well. Thomas Manty found Talon Zakall in the high slot and he unleashed a shot that got tipped by Payton Matsui along the way to get the Cents on the board. The Cents through 16 shots of their own on net in the 2nd period and after 2 led the shot totals, 26-23.

In the 3rd period frustrations started to show for the Centennials as the penalties started to pile up and the Vees scored shortly after one expired. Payton Matsui got his 2nd of the game shorthanded after surging down the left wing, pulling to his backhand and sliding it five hole on Stankowski. That would be as close as the Cents would come, falling 6-2. Final shots were 33-32 Vees.

After the game Assistant Coach Zach Wright said the team just needs to play that full 60.

“We saw a solid 40 tonight, but we weren’t good enough in the opening frame. We need to put it all together and be ready for tomorrow.”

The Cents look to end their losing streak against the Eagles on Saturday night at home.

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The Merritt Centennials (10-31-1-3) look for revenge against the Penticton Vees (36-11-1-1) tonight.

The Centennials come into the contest looking to forget the last time they were in the confines of the SOEC. The Cents had a decent first period. Despite giving up a highlight reel goal to Danny Weight, they were able to equalize the score with a breakaway goal from Evan Benwell to make it 1-1 after 1, but in the second the Vees took over. The Vees scored 2 early goals in the 2nd period from David Silye and Jay O'Brien and despite Head Coach Sweet-Coulter calling a time out the Cents couldn't turn the tide and ended up washed out to sea. The Vees added more offense from Jackson Niedermayer, another from O'Brien, a goal by Tristan Amonte, and Jack Barnes to set themselves up in cruise control up 7-1 after 2. The Cents and local emergency back up Bryce Garcia were able to keep the Vees off the scoresheet until the final minute where they added two more quick ones including an own goal to make it a 9-1 final.  The Cents played much better the following night in Trail, but despite two powerplay goals from Chase Nameth, and another from Evan Benwell weren't able to comeback to tie the game against the Smoke Eaters and fell 4-3 in regulation.

The Vees have been in cruise control through the month of January and are 9-1 over that span. Their only set back came against the Trail Smoke Eaters in Trail, a 4-3 loss, but since then have rattled off 5 in a row including the aforementioned result against the Cents. Since facing Merritt, the Vees have beaten the Salmon Arm Silverbacks by a tight score of 2-1, and used another strong 2nd period on Wednesday to outlast the West Kelowna Warriors 5-2. Team Defense continues to be just as much a strength for the Vees as their offense as they've only allowed more than 2 goals twice in the month of January, and after their game against West K on Wednesday are primed for a long home stand to finish off the season.

This will be the finale of the season series between the two clubs, and Merritt is looking to pick up its first win of the year after coming in 0-5 versus Penticton. They will be boosted by the return of Ryan Winter into the fold, who will see his first start of 2020 after being sidelined with an elbow injury. Josh Van Unen makes his way back into the fold after being held out with injury since before Christmas, and it's just in time for Captain and brother Rylan Van Unen's 200th BCHL regular season game. What makes the elder Van Unen's milestone a little more special is that all 200 games have been played in a Merritt Centennials uniform. The Cents will be looking to play for their Captain in what may be his final visit to the SOEC tonight.

The Cents will look for more contributions from their top end talent. Christian Buono finally found the scoreboard and is at 31 points, Payton Matsui has 28, and Daniel Tkac, after getting 3 breakaway opportunities the last time these two teams met, will be looking to add to his 25 points.

The Vees are led by their Captain David Silye with 53 points, Jay O'Brien has 52, Lukas Sillinger has 49, and Danny Weight has 47.

The special teams battle sees the Cents looking to continue where they left off in Trail, scoring twice with the extra man.

Powerplay:                                      Penalty Kill:

Cents - 10.7% (17th)                 Cents - 73.5% (17th)

Vees - 20.3% (6th)                     Vees - 83.8% (6th)

As mentioned, Ryan Winter is making his return to the crease and is 3-13-1 with a .903 SV%, a 3.94 GAA, and 1 shutout. It remains to be seen whether Tanner Marshall will be available or if the team will turn to another emergency back up.

Yaniv Perets is the number one for Penticton at 21-7-1 with a .918 SV%, a 2.16 GAA, and 5 shutouts. Carl Stankowski has faced the Cents a couple times this season and is 10-3 with a .914 SV% and a 2.03 GAA.

Assistant Coach Paul Barnes says the team is doing a lot of things right, they just need to stick with it.

"We just need to be better at managing momentum swings in the game. We can't get too high, and we can't get too low. Just keep working."

The Cents will look to end up on the right side of the game tonight.

Puck drop 7pm. Pre-game 6:45 on Q101 and HockeyTV with Jared Thomas.

 

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Brophy

(Photo credit – Garrett James)

The Cents 2019-20 season can be told as a tale of two, or even three, d-cores.

Gone from the opening day roster are veterans Joey Berkopec to Coquitlam, and Olson Werenka to the AJHL. Offseason acquisition Troy Quinn wasn’t long for Merritt and rookie Colton Sun was dealt as well.

Mid-season pickups like Doug Scott have come and gone, and the young Tyson Galloway is back in the WHL.

In their place has come Merritt local Chase Cooke, along with fellow rookie Brody Johnston and the WHL’s Braydon Clark. Not to mention a gaggle of APs that have been called up along the way.

Throughout it all two men on the back end have stood tall, Talon Zakal and the subject of this week’s Five (more like 10) Good Minutes, Brophy Dunne.

The big defenceman discussed the change in his role and some lessons he learned from the departed veterans.

“It was a big step. It’s what every rookie wants, to play the big minutes, and I think I’m doing a pretty good job of doing it,” said Brophy. “I’m making sure I take in some of what Joey and Olson did, the energy players on the back end. That’s my role and that’s what I’m going to stick to. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

“Me and Joey had a really tight connection, even before I made the team at camp. He was telling me what junior hockey is like and what you need to do. He always told me if you have a bad shift you have to make sure to don’t dwell on it. You have to have a way better follow-up shift,” said Brophy. “We had a really tight bond; we were brothers and it was sad to see him go.”

As for the new defensive unit, Brophy likes how they’re trending.

“The d-core, we’re young, we’re fighting in there. Brody has been great for us. Chase, probably the hardest worker I’ve ever met in my life. He and Talon make a great pair” added Brophy. “We may be young, but I feel like we fit the league perfectly.”

Thanks to the massive turnover, Brophy has gone from a 5/6 defenceman to a top pairing blueline stalwart playing huge minutes and every situation. For most of the year, he has been eating major minutes on the Cents penalty kill, a role he enjoys, but recently he’s even found himself patrolling the point on the power play.

“Derek believes in me at the top, making the plays and getting my shot through,” began Brophy. “When I get a chance of the power play, I try to make an impression so I can stay out there. Try to get a puck in the net.”

If you look at the stats sheet Brophy still has a 0 in the goal’s column, but you don’t have to tell him that…his parents have it covered.

“I’m waiting for it. I’ve talked with my parents and they’re making fun of me for not scoring,” joked Brophy. “It’s going to happen soon, I’m feeling it. I’ve been feeling it for about a month though, so we don’t know”

Brophy continues the hunt for that first goal and a big team win tonight in Penticton. Catch the pregame right here on Q101 at 6:45 with Jared Thomas.

 

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On Twitter: @Q101Merritt

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The Merritt Centennials had the best performance on the powerplay of 2020, but the 2/7 performance wasn’t enough to get past the Trail Smoke Eaters as they fell 4-3 in regulation.

The Cents turned in a dominant first period performance on the strength of 5 powerplay opportunities, but they were only able to cash in on one of them as Chase Nameth poked it across the line after a Daniel Tkac shot during a goal mouth scramble. The Cents were outshooting the Smoke Eaters 17-3 before they made a push late in the frame. A point shot from Cody Schiavon got through the crowd to beat Emergency back up Blake Pilon to make it 1-1, and then Diarmad Dimurro would score on a back door feed with 8 seconds remaining to make it 2-1 Trail before the buzzer. Shots after 1 were 17-6 Cents.

The second period saw the Smoke Eaters quickly get out to a two goal edge with Michael Collela sniping a shot blocker side to make it 3-1. Chase Nameth was able to quickly score again on the PP after a set up by Buono and Orchard to bring the Cents within one. Once again with the period getting late the Smoke Eaters would restore the two goal lead with a play off the faceoff to make it 4-2. Shots after 2 were 29-22.

Evan Benwell scored his second goal in as many nights, cashing in on a rebound off a Brody Johnston point shot. It was the young Johnston’s second point in as many nights as well. That brought the Cents back within 1 4-3, but that is as close as they would come. Net empty they weren’t able to get the equalizer late. Final Shots were 38-36 Cents.

After the game, Assistant Coach Paul Barnes said the Cents had their best night on the powerplay, but if it had been slightly better the game may have been different.

“We had the powerplays in the first, but could only get the one goal. If we get another one, especially with those 5-on-3’s it may have changed the course of the game.”

After a West Kelowna win in the shootout, the Cents now trail the Warriors by 5 points for the final playoff spot in the league.

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The Merritt Centennials (10-30-1-3) take the road to Trail for the final time this season to face the Smoke Eaters (28-14-2-1) tonight.

The Cents had a rough ride last night in Penticton where they were able to skate with the Vees for the first 20 minutes of hockey, but a 6 goal 2nd period led to a 9-1 route against the top team in the Interior.

In the first period the teams were evenly matched, but skill was on display. Top prospect Danny Weight took on the Cents defense 1-on-4 and dangled out the other side, then fired one tweener up and over the shoulder of Marshall to open the scoring 1-0. Evan Benwell was able to answer for the Centennials late in the frame with a slick move of his own, breaking in all alone, he faked forehand, pulled backhand and popped It over the shoulder of Stankowski to make it 1-1.

The Vees exploded for offense in the 2nd period. Bulging the twine 6 times to lead 7-1, they got goals from Jay O’Brien, David Silye, Jackson Niedermayer, another from O’Brien, Tristan Amonte, and Jack Barnes. The Cents found themselves behind 2 just 3:30 into the second, and had an opportunity on the PP at the 5:30. They were unable to score with the man advantage, and even with a time out couldn’t turn the tide of momentum that the Vees had seized. The game slipped away there, and never really came back.

Local Merrittonian Bryce Garcia started the third with Tanner Marshall leaving the ice with injury. He was able to hold his own stopping 11/13 and was only beaten by goals in the final minute. The Vees were able to add a couple late, one of them coming off a Centennials skate for an own goal to make it a 9-1 final. Add to that the fact that the Cents may have lost Tanner Marshall and Braydon Clark to injury, with Talon Zakall also taking to the ice gingerly this game doesn’t look to rosy.

The Smoke Eaters are coming off a 5-1 win against the Vernon Vipers where they had the big guns firing. Kent Johnson scored a pair of goals, Captain Phillipe Lapointe, Carson Briere, and Michael Collela added the others to come away with the victory.

Your memory doesn’t have to be great to remember the hard fought 6-4 loss the Centennials suffered on Tuesday. Getting goals from Torzsok, Nameth, Van Unen, and Orchard – the offense wasn’t enough to get past the high flying Smoke Eaters and former Cent Matt Osadick put the nail in the coffin with the late empty netter. The season series now sits 0-5 for the Cents with them looking to pick up one win in Trail before the Smoke Eaters will visit on the last home date of the year.

The Cents are still looking for the top of their lineup to contribute more. Christian Buono is stalled on 30 points, Payton Matsui has 28, and Daniel Tkac despite having 3 breakaways last  night is still sitting at 24.

The Smoke Eaters have the 3 hottest hands in the BCHL. Kent Johnson has 83, Michael Collela has 53, and Owen Ozar has 55.

The special teams battle sees the Cents looking to get back to converting on the PP a night after going 0/7.

Powerplay:                                Penalty Kill:

Cents -10.3% (17th)            Cents – 73.4% (17th)

Trail – 24.4% (3rd)                Trail – 86.2% (3rd)

The battle in the blue paint has become a little muddy for the Merritt Centennials. Tanner Marshall may be down with injury and the Cents will be either hoping for a miracle recovery, turning to emergency backup Bryce Garcia, or bringing in an affiliate.

The Smoke Eaters have young tender Logan Terness at their disposal as well as Matteo Paler-Chow. Terness is 21-8-2 with a .930 SV% and a 2.44 GAA. Paler-Chow is 10-10 with a .882 SV% and a 3.53 GAA.

Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter is hoping the Cents can replicate the effort they showed last time in Trail.

“If we can battle like we did on Tuesday. I think we will have a better result.”

The Cents will hope to battle their way to some points tonight.

Puck drop 7pm. Pre-game 6:45 on Q101 and HockeyTV with Jared Thomas.

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