The Merritt Centennials (4-12) try to get back on the winning track when they faceoff against the Wenatchee Wild (9-8-1-1) in Wenatchee for the first game of a double header tonight.
The Cents are looking to bump a two game skid. After possibly their best two outings in the season against the West Kelowna Warriors and the Langley Rivermen, the Cents have had trouble against some of the leagues top offenses in the Penticton Vees and the Chilliwack Chiefs. On Wednesday night, the Chiefs jumped out to a 2-0 lead in a 2 minute span in the first ten minutes of the game and the Cents had a goal waved off, a couple of two-man advantages but couldn’t cash in. The Cents also lost the services of Josh Van Unen in the first period, and there’s a good chance he won’t see action this weekend. In the second period, the Chiefs added another tally on the board with a shot through the crowd that snuck through and beat Winter to make it 3-0. The final frame was the roughest on the scoreboard for the Cents as the Chiefs converted early on a powerplay, and then were able to capitalize even further when Ben Ward was called for a kneeing major penalty. The lone bright spot was the Cents scoring shorthanded in the third period on a 2-on-1 rush from Wyatt Marlow and Chase Nameth. Nameth was able to get some vindication against his former club, but the Cents didn’t get anymore vindication on the scoreboard in a 7-1 loss. The Cents look to regroup quickly to take on a division rival, and avenge a lopsided loss the last time they were down in Wenatchee.
The Wild are on a three game slide of their own after facing some of the top offenses in the Interior Division. The Salmon Arm Silverbacks were able to take both games of their double header last weekend by scores of 8-5 and 4-2. The Wild were also in action on Wednesday where they fell to the red hot Trail Smoke Eaters 5-1. Harrison Scott was the lone goal scorer, as the Smokies pulled away through the final 40 minutes of play. The Wild will be looking to reset and defend their den with ferocity.
This will be the fourth game of the season series and the Wild have the edge 2-1. They took the season opener by a score of 3-1, and won the only game in Wenatchee so far by a score of 5-2. However, the Cents have the most recent victory with a gutsy 2-1 victory in overtime where Tanner Marshall played lights out and the Cents got the OT thriller from Joey Berkopec. The Cents are hoping for an effort more akin to the 2-1 victory to take into enemy territory.
Injuries are beginning to pile up for the Centennials who will be without the services of Josh Van Unen, Olson Werenka, and Tyson Galloway due to various woes. The Cents have also made some moves by releasing Isaac Alvarado and trading for the younger more accomplished Jake Mclean from the Spruce Kings. Last year Mclean had 49 points in 40 games, and this year had a goal and an assist in 9 games with Prince George. Josh Kagan saw his 5 game point streak snapped, but he still paces the Cents with 15 points. Payton Matsui isn’t far off the pace with 12 points, while Brett Roloson and Daniel Tkac are holding at 9 points.
The Wild have been scoring by committee this year. Nick Cafarelli leads the way with 16 points, Brett Chorske and Tyler Young have 15, while Captain Brian Adams cuts in with 14 points.
The special teams battle sees the Cents continuing to slump and looking to improve, while the Wild are much improved with the extra man.
Powerplay: Penalty Kill:
Cents – 5.6% (17th) Cents – 67.1% (17th)
Wild – 23.7% (3rd) Wild – 77.8% (14th)
The goaltending has been feast or famine for the Centennials of late, and their hoping to feast on another great performance tonight. Tanner Marshall is 2-4 with an .884 SV% and a 4.01 GAA. Ryan Winter is now 2-8 with a .907 SV%, a 3.83 GAA, and 1 shutout.
The Wild netminders have solid goals against, but the percentages aren’t where they’d want them to be. Daniel Chenard is 6-4-1 with an .897 SV%, a 2.73 GAA, and 1 shutout. Noah Altman is 3-4 with an .877 SV%, a 3.72 GAA, and 1 shutout.
Derek Sweet Coulter says the team needs to bring some of the non-negotiables tonight.
“We have to get back to bringing that compete level. That’s the strength of our team, and it needs to be there on every shift.”
The Cents will hope to negotiate a win tonight.
Puck drop 7pm from Town Toyota Centre. Pre-Game at 6:45 on Q101 and Hockey TV with Jared Thomas.