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Game Preview: Cents @ Clippers – Feb. 9

The 2nd in the Interior Merritt Centennials (30-14-4-3) continue their Island swing against the Nanaimo Clippers (25-26-1-0) tonight.

The Centennials are coming off a rough game in Powell River, but they were able to prevail due to their cooler heads. There were dangerous plays made against Payton Matsui, Mike Van Unen, and Nick Wicks, but all of them came back to action last night, and it was a complete team effort for the win. The Kings had the early edge on the powerplay scoring two first period goals, but Vincent Guy scored at even strength to make it 2-1 after 1. Matt Kopperud got the lone goal of the second period on a two-man advantage to tie the game heading into the final frame. With some penalty time for a checking from behind major to Van Unen from the 2nd carrying over to the third, the Cents were able to score an early goal. Christian Sabin got knocked down in the corner, but got up, dusted himself off, and chipped home a pass in front to give the Cents a 3-2 lead. Powell River tied things up on a shorthanded chance, but on that same powerplay Brad Cocca was able to clap a one-timer to make it 4-3. Cocca also got in on the empty netter to end the game, setting up Nick Granowicz to ice the game and the win 5-3. Austin Roden stopped 30/33 shots and picked up his 2nd win in a row, and will go again tonight.

The Clippers have been making a bit of a surge of late. They went on a 10 game win streak to bring them back to respectability and 3rd spot in the Island Division, and are playing some of their best hockey of late. They, like the Cents, are 3-1-1 in their last 5 games played with their most recent action coming against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. They beat the Dogs last night 6-5 in regulation.

The only time these two teams met this season was back in December, and it was the Cents who picked up the W 5-1. Austin Roden had his shutout bid broken midway through the 3rd and the Cents had a strong offensive effort from Cocca, Kopperud, and Wicks in that game.

Cocca is returning to the form that saw him shoot up the BCHL scoring lead picking up 6 points in his last 2 games. He tallied 1 goal and 2 assists last night and is up to 61 on the year. Nick Granowicz and Nick Wicks are keeping pace with 53 points a piece, and Mathieu Gosselin is in the top 20 league wide with 51 points.

The Clippers are led by Ethan Scardina who has 48 points. rookie Tyler Williams has 44 points, and Captain Marcus Mitchell has 39 points.

The special teams battle sees both teams struggling on the penalty kill, but both having respectable powerplays.

Powerplay:                               Penalty Kill:

Cents – 19.4% (10th)          Cents – 76.7% (14th)

Clips – 20.5% (6th)               Clips – 75.7% (15th)

In net Austin Roden is the go to guy with Vincent Duplessis suffering an injury in practice. Roden is now 21-7-3 with a .907 SV%, a 3.01 GAA and 2 shutouts. Jackson Glassford is the affiliate player called up to be in the wings.

Jordan Naylor is 17-16 with a .900 SV% and a 3.25 GAA. Landon Pavlisin is 8-11 with a .900 SV% and a 3.44 GAA.

Head Coach Joe Martin knows that this game has the potential to get out of hand as well.

“The Clippers play a hard edged game, and have some players that can move. We need to have the same kind of effort we had against the Kings, and play smart to not get sucked in to the silly stuff.”

The Cents will try and pick up their 3rd win in a row tonight.

Puck Drop 7pm. Pre-Game 6:45 on Hockey TV and Q101.ca with Jared Thomas.