**PUCK DROP 4PM**
The Merritt Centennials (31-14-4-3) look to finish the Dad trip off with their 4th victory in a row against the 1st in the Island Division Victoria Grizzlies (32-16-0-4) this afternoon.
The Cents are coming off another tidy effort against the Nanaimo Clippers last night. They survived a sleepy first and stormed out in the 2nd period scoring 2 goals before the 2 minute mark. Nick Granowicz scored on the back door, and Matt Kopperud scooped up a goal front scramble over Pavlisin to make it 2-0. The Clippers got a bounce in off of a Cents defender to make it 2-1 before Brady Ziemer slapped a back hand floater off the draw upstairs to make it 3-1. The Clippers didn’t go away and narrowed the margin to 3-2, but Matt Kopperud regained the lead fresh out of the penalty box with a shot upstairs to make it 4-2 after 2. In the third, the Clippers got an early goal to make things interesting, but Payton Matsui pulled off an all effort goal picking up his own wrap around rebound in the slot to add the insurance and make it 5-3 the final. Austin Roden stopped 30/33 shots in his and the Cents 3rd win in a row.
The Grizzlies are coming off a 4-1 win over the Wenatchee Wild last night, and are 3-0-2 in their last 5. The 2 losses have both come in the shootout. The Cents will have to keep their eye on a couple special players on Victoria including phenom Alex Newhook who leads the lead in scoring, Alex Campbell who’s another prospect in this summers NHL draft and Riley Hughes who’s already drafted by the New York Rangers.
The season series sees the Cents with the edge 2-0. So far they’ve done a good job at shutting down the Grizzlies top guns in a 4-2 win at home and a 2-1 win at the BCHL Showcase. Defenseman Carter Berger has scored 2 goals, while Newhook and Hughes have only picked up an assist each. The game does have the potential to be a barn burner as these are the top two scoring teams in the BCHL. The Grizzlies have 200 goals-for while the Cents have 198.
Brad Cocca picked up another assist last night and is up to 62 points on the season putting him back into the top 5 in BCHL scoring at 5th. Nick Granowicz and Nick Wicks are tied with 54 points, and after a very offensive night in the BCHL are sitting at 16th and 17th in the league.
The Grizzlies and the BCHL are led by Alex Newhook who has 86 points, Alex Campbell has 60, and d-man Carter Berger has 56.
The Grizzlies are one of the strongest teams in the league when it comes to special teams.
Powerplay: Penalty Kill:
Vic – 21.4% (5th) Vic – 85.5% (1st)
Cents – 19.2% (12th) Cents – 76.9% (13th)
In net Austin Roden is performing well with the pressure on. He’s picked up 3 wins in a row and is now 22-7-3 with a .907 SV%, a 3.01 GAA, and 2 shutouts. Jackson Glassford continues to AP behind him as Vincent Duplessis is nursing a bit of a nagging injury sustained in practice.
Kurtis Chapman has been the go-to guy in Victoria sporting a record of 23-9, a .937 SV%, a 2.39 GAA, and 4 shutouts. However, the Grizzlies have gotten back Zachary Rose from the injured list and he is 2-3 with a .919 SV% and a 3.02 GAA.
Head Coach Joe Martin says the Grizzlies have a lot of options up front.
“They have a few special players for sure, and we will have to watch them closely, but if we can make them play defense I like our chances.”
The Cents will hope that they use their options to full effect tonight.
Puck Drop 4pm. Pre-Game 3:45 on Hockey TV and Q101.ca with Jared Thomas.