Merritt Centennials
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The Merritt Centennials (10-32-1-3) face off against Mainland division foe, the Surrey Eagles (20-20-3-4) tonight.

The Cents are coming off a game where they skated with the Penticton Vees through the final 40 minutes, but 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. They opened the scoring 4 minutes into the game, and then used a 4 minute stretch at the halfway mark to add 3 more to put them in the driver's seat. Despite some solid play, possession, and effort from the Cents they weren’t able to pull through until a late penalty in the 2nd 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. 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. Despite the 2 goal effort from Matsui, the Cents would fall 6-2.

The Surrey Eagles come into the game off the heels of a 3-0 shutout of the Prince George Spruce Kings. Christophe Tellier, Hudson Schandor, and Hassan Akl tallied for the Eagles and Reece Klassen picked up the win and the shutout stopping all 35 shots he faced. Over their last 5 the Eagles are 3-2, and in the month of January they have gone 5-3-1. Despite losing Holden Katzalay to the Vancouver Giants of the WHL earlier this season, their offense has been able to hold steady with the likes of Tellier leading the way.

This will be the 2nd and final matchup of  the season series. The Cents were 5-3 winners back in late November, but they went into the 3rd period trailing 3-0. They used some timely scoring from Jake McLean and Wyatt Marlow, plus a hat trick from Josh Kagan to pull themselves back from the brink and secure a victory. The Cents will be hoping they can pull themselves back from the brink of a 10 game losing skid and bring it to a halt against these Eagles.

Christian Buono was held off the scoresheet last night and has 31 points. With 2 goals last night, Payton Matsui now has 30 points, and Daniel Tkac has 25.

The Eagles are led by Christophe Tellier up front with 54 points, and he's 5th in league scoring. Hudson Schandor has 49 points, and then there's a bit of a drop to Brandon Santa Juana who has 32 points.

The special teams battle sees the Cents coming off a solid performance, converting on 1/3 and going 5/5 on the PK.

Powerplay:                                           Penalty Kill:

Cents - 11% (17th)                         Cents - 73.9% (17th)

Eagles -17.6% (11th)                    Eagles - 83.3% (7th)

In net, Ryan Winter turned in a solid performance after settling into the game. He's now 3-14-1 with a .899 SV% and a 4.05 GAA with 1 shutout. Tanner Marshall is 6-17 with a .880 SV% and a 4.91 GAA.

Reece Klassen has come into the Eagles at the deadline and sort of stolen the starting role. Now 4-1-1 with a .922 SV% a 2.16 GAA and 1 shutout. Thomas Scarfone is 11-10-2 with a .918 SV% and a 2.74 GAA.

Assistant Coach Zach Wright says the team just needs to play that full 60.

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

The Cents hope to be on the right side of the result after 60 minutes tonight.

Puck drop 7pm. Pre-game 6:45 with Jared Thomas and Michael Reeve.

Lots of reasons to come to the rink tonight. Please consider bringing new or used books for the Bright Red Bookshelves in support of Literacy Merritt. There will be prize packs to be won, on and off the ice. Minor Hockey kids get in free when wearing their jerseys, and there's a chance to win $10,000 IF the Cents score in the first 25 seconds of the third period with the purchase of a program.

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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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