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Game Preview: Cents @ Warriors – Dec. 14

Photo Credit: Garrett James Photography and Snap Commercial Photography

The Merritt Centennials (21-11-1-1) lock swords with the West Kelowna Warriors (20-14-0-1) for the second time in a week.

The Centennials are coming off a great weekend that started with a win against the Warriors 5-4, and continued with success against the Nanaimo Clippers with a 5-1 victory on Teddy Bear Toss night. Christian Sabin set off the bear storm, Joey Berkopec added his 3rd of the season, Brad Cocca tallied his 15th, Matt Kopperud scored and has points in 3 straight, and Nick Wicks converted on a 5-on-3 to propel the Cents to victory. The lone blemish on Austin Roden’s night came on a shorthanded breakaway from the Clippers, but Roden picked up both wins on the weekend, and is perfect against the Warriors this season, like the team, at 3-0.

Last week against the Warriors wasn’t the one sided offensive tilt that we saw in games at the NVMA, but the Cents found a way to win nonetheless. After a strong starting period, that saw the Cents out to a 3-2 lead after 1 courtesy goals from Matt Kopperud (2), and Vincent Guy, the wind was sucked out of the game with penalties for both teams in the second period and the Warriors crawled back to lead 4-3 after two periods of play. The Cents came storming out of the gate in the third, out shooting West K 17-3 in the final frame and were rewarded by goals from Brendan Schneider and Brett Roloson to win the game 5-4.

Offense will loom large in the match up as it has all season. With scores of 8-4, 8-3, and 5-4 and an average output of 10.6 goals per game, baton down the hatches and prepare for another barn burning effort tonight.

The Centennials would like to extend a congratulations to forward Brad Cocca, on his commitment to Brown University for the 2019-20 season. The Centennials staff and Director of Scouting Brandon Shaw will have their hands full replacing a talented Cents lineup that will have up to 9 players moving on next season.

Brad Cocca paces the Cents offensively with 45 points, and is 3rd in BCHL scoring. Nick Granowicz is looking bust a mini-slump that has seen him held off the score sheet in the last 5 games. He still is hanging in the top 20 in league scoring but has slid to 13th with 38 points. Cents Captain Nick Wicks has been filling the void offensively. is coming off an honorable mention in the BCHL’s player of the week, and now has 36 points on the season.

The Warriors have been turning it on offensively this season and are led by forward Mike Hardman who’s tied for 1st in the league in goals-scored with 24 and 41 points. Willie Reim is tied with him in points with 41, and Chase Dubois had two goals against the Centennials last week and has 37 points on the season.

The Cents are coming off a rare game where they were perfect on the penalty kill, and will hope for a similar effort against a strong Warriors powerplay:

Powerplay:                                                         Penalty Kill:

WK – 19.6% (5th)                                           WK – 80.1% (11th)

Cents – 16.8% (15th)                                   Cents – 77% (13th)

The goaltending duel sees Austin Roden coming off a pair of wins last weekend, while the Warriors had to use both goalies in the 5-4 game last week. Roden is 14-6 with a .901 SV%, a 3.22 GAA, and 1 shutout. Vincent Duplessis is itching at a return to the crease and is 7-4-2 with a .906 SV% and a 3.21 GAA. Brock Baier surrendered 3 goals on 7 shots and was chased in the last contest. He sits at 10-3 with a .905 SV% and a 3.63 GAA. Rookie Connor Hopkins came in and played well. He is 10-10 with a .909 SV%, a 3.23 GAA, and 1 shutout.

Assistant Coach Brandon Shaw says the proximity of match ups between these two clubs will spell more intensity.

“When you have a game against a rival with not much breathing room in between, it will mean a step up in the bad blood.”

The Cents will hope the intensity will propel them to victory tonight.

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