The Merritt Centennials (8-20-1-1) are hoping the teddy’s can bring them back to life against the Vernon Vipers (17-12-1-1).
The Cents are licking their wounds after the Vipers took it to them on Friday night in Vernon. Things started off with a solid road period as Christian Buono blasted a beauty upstairs for his 2nd as a Cent, but the Vipers were able to score in the final minute of the period to tie the game 1-1. Despite the late goal allowed, the Cents were in a good position on the road after 1. To start the second it was the Vipers who carried over the momentum scoring 2 more goals before Hunor Torzsok answered on the just expired powerplay to make it 3-2, but again the Vipers kept steam rolling this time adding 3 more unanswered before Thomas Manty scored to make it 6-3. Braydon Clark dropped the gloves to stand up for a team mate, but that wouldn’t swing the momentum as the Vipers would add two more to make it an 8-3 final. Tanner Marshall was in net for the game, and made some big saves in the losing effort.
The Vipers followed up Friday night’s win with another on home ice for their Teddy Bear Toss. Coming into the weekend as one of the teams in the BCHL that was struggling to score the most, they’ve exploded for offense scoring 14 goals in their last two games and outscoring their opponents 14-9. Matt Kowalski torched the Cents for a hat trick and 5 points, and sent the teddy’s tossing last night as well. The Cents will have to do a much better job at containing him and protecting the goal mouth if they want to come out on the winning end this afternoon.
The Cents will be without the services of Daniel Tkac as he’s gone off to the World Juniors to try and make team Slovakia. So the team will turn to Christian Buono who’s heating up with the Cents with 20 points, Payton Matsui with 19 points, and recently acquired Evan Benwell to supply some offense.
The Vipers are led by Matt Kowalski who has now shot into 13th in league scoring with 32 points, Captain Connor Marritt has 25 points, and Dawson Holt is just over a point per game with 21 points.
The special teams battle will see the Cents powerplay try and break through against one of the league’s best penalty kills.
Powerplay: Penalty Kill:
Cents -8.6% (17th) Cents – 70.9% (17th)
Vipers – 14.2% (16th) Vipers – 87.9% (3rd)
The goaltender duel sees the Vipers coming in hot while the Cents are looking to pick up some wins. Ryan Winter is 2-9-2 with a .912 SV% and a 3.92 GAA and 1 shutout. Tanner Marshall is 5-10 with an .874 SV% and a 4.85 GAA.
The Vipers are led by Reilly Herbst who’s 12-2-1 with a .927 SV%, a 2.05 GAA, and a 1 shutout. James Porter Jr is 1-4 with an .898 SV% and a 3.04 GAA after picking up his first win last night.
Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter says the Cents need to protect the middle against this dangerous team.
“We need to keep this team to the outside, and clean up in front of the net to give our goalies a chance.”
The Cents will look to protect against a 7th straight loss tonight.
Puck drop 2pm. Pre-game 1:45 with Jared Thomas and Michael Reeve on Q101 and Hockey TV.
Bring a teddy and be ready to toss at the Cents first goal, and feel free to bring a donation for the food bank if we missed your house yesterday for the Hockey with Heart food drive.