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Game Day Preview: Cents @ Rivermen – Dec. 3

The Merritt Centennials (8-18-1-0) look to write off last week with a spirited tilt against the Langley Rivermen (13-15-0-1) tonight.

The Cents will look to forget a week where they got pummeled on defense, and couldn’t answer offensively. Collectively over 3 games last week the Cents lost by a combined score of 18-3. Last Wednesday they lost to Trail 9-2. Last Friday they lost to the Penticton Vees in possibly the closest contest of the week 4-1, and last Saturday they lost in Penticton by a score of 5-0. After winning three games straight and looking solid in those three games, the Cents have dropped three in a row and have looked as shaky as ever. However, in the wild world of Junior hockey they’ll look to get right back on the horse and pick up some wins on the road. Perhaps facing some teams that they’ve had some success with in the past will help bolster the bottom line for the Centennials.

The lone goal scorers over the week that was were Josh Van Unen with his first in the BCHL, Ben Ward with his first of the season, and Olson Werenka on the powerplay so there were some positives to build off. Both Centennials goalies played great in the losing efforts, and just need a little more help from the team offense to get things back on track.

The Rivermen are enjoying a strong string of play of late, and when they are on the losing side it isn’t by much. Their last game was a loss against the Wenatchee Wild 3-2, but before that they surprised the Salmon Arm Silverbacks 4-2, topped the Vernon Vipers 3-1, tied the Trail Smoke Eaters 4-4, and before that lost three games in a row by way of shootout. Needless to say the Cents will need to bring their full effort, and full bag of tricks if they want to get past a surging Langley club.

The teams have met one already this season in which Ryan Winter turned his performance of the year to date with a 52 save shutout, and the Cents won by a score of 4-0. Maybe having some of those memories on the back burner will give the Cents the extra incentive to win.

The offense has been stagnant for the last few games as Josh Kagan continues to lead the way with 27 points, Daniel Tkac has 20, and Payton Matsui has 17.

The Rivermen have one of the league’s best players in Brendan Budy with 39 points, Jack Livingstone has 25 points as a D man, and rookies Tristan Fraser and Joseph Musa are tied with 20 points each.

The special teams have not been there for the Centennials over the last week, and will look to rebound like the rest of the team.

Powerplay:                                    Penalty Kill:

Cents – 7.7% (17th)                  Cents – 70.2% (17th)

Riv – 19% (9th)                            Riv – 77.1% (13th)

The goaltending duel sees teams that don’t have the sexiest of numbers. Ryan Winter is 2-9-1 with a .911 SV% and a 3.77 GAA with 1 shutout. Tanner Marshall is now 5-9 with a .879 SV% and a 4.61 GAA.

Braedon Fleming has gotten the majority of the starts for the Rivermen and is 12-11 with an .888 SV%, a 3.06 GAA, and 2 shutouts. Kristian Lyon is 1-4 with an .874 SV% and a 3.57 GAA.

Derek Sweet-Coulter knows the team needs to return to Cents hockey.

“The last few games haven’t gone our way, but we also haven’t been playing our best. We need to be bringing that effort every night if we want a chance to win.”

The Cents will look to return to the win column tonight.

Puck drop 7pm from the George Preston Arena. Pre-Game 6:45 on Q101 and HockeyTV with Jared Thomas.