Date – Friday, October 8, 2021
Game Time – Puck drop 7:00 pm, Pregame show 6:45 pm
Location – Nicola Valley Memorial Arena, Merritt BC
Broadcast – CKMQ-FM Q101 & BCHLTV
Prince George Spruce Kings – 0-0-0 (2-1-1 Preseason)
Merritt Centennials – 0-0-0 (1-4-0 Preseason)
The Merritt Centennials will begin their regular season schedule against a familiar foe this evening at the NVMA, the Prince George Spruce Kings.
For the Cents, camp battles came down to the bitter end with bubble players Connor Farren and Levi Carter making the squad after impressive showings throughout training camp.
Prince George looks to return much of the same roster that gave Merritt fits during the pod season in Chilliwack headlined by Rowan Miller and Kolton Cousins upfront.
The previous 12 meetings between the two squads have been one-sided, to say the least. Merritt and PG met ten times in the Chilliwack Pod with the Spruce Kings coming out victorious in nine of them.
The teams then faced each other two more times during the exhibition schedule with PG winning both matchups by scores of 6-2 and 4-0.
Blue Paint Battle;
The Merritt Centennials are running with one of the youngest, if not the youngest, goalie tandem in the BCHL to begin the season. After the preseason battle between a handful of possible tenders, the Cents have selected 2005 born John Hicks, and 2003 born Brayden Melnyk to backstop the squad.
Hicks had the better preseason stats of the two, posting a 1-0 record in two games played (he played in relief for 2.5 periods), with a 1.74 GAA and .944 sv%. Melnyk who also appeared in the pod season for the Cents playing two games posted a 0-3 preseason record with a 5.57 GAA and a .867 sv%.
Prince George returns two goalies from last season with Jordan Fairlie and Aaron Trotter. Trotter, the older of the two, went 1-0 with a .892 sv% and 2.62 GAA in the preseason. Fairlie went 1-1-1 with a .929 sv% and 2.40 GAA. Fairlie shutout the Cents on Sunday afternoon in the preseason finale.
Specail Teams Comparsion; (Preseason numbers)
PG – PP – 27.8% 1/18 PK – 85.0% 7/18
Cents – PP – 13.0% 15/18 PK – 85.0% 7/18
Players to Watch;
The Cents leading scorer from the preseason was a bit of a surprise. Entering camp after being a late cut from the WHL, defenceman Henry Smith tallied three points in just two games played.
The ‘French Connection’ in PG of Simon Labelle and Nick Rheaume tied for the team lead in the preseason with four points each. The pair also put up 10 and 14 points respectively in the pod season.