It’s a fresh slate as the BCHL drops the puck on the 2021 pod season and the Centennials and Chiefs get the honor of being the first teams to hit the ice at the Colliseum in Chilliwack.
During the abbreviated exhibition campaign The Merritt Centennials skated to a 2-5 record while the Chilliwack Chiefs sported a record of 3-3-2. However, there has been a fair bit of roster turnover since then on both sides with players flying the coop down south or moving on to the WHL.
The Centennials also had the privilege of playing in the final game of the exhibition season against the Cranbrook Bucks a 4-2 victory that saw the team starting to turn the corner, find their offensive footing and really start coming together as a team. The good feeling was short lived as play has been suspended ever since, but the excitement is starting to return as the pod season begins anew. The Centennials have lost the services of Dylan Sydor to the Kamloops Blazers, Jacob Dewitt to the Regina Pats and Grayson Valente to the Bruins in the NAHL. The Cents have reloaded with talent in the likes of Matteo Pecchia on loan from the Langley Rivermen, affiliate Luke Mongrain of the Princeton Posse and BWC up front. On defense the Centennials have filled the gaps left by Dewitt and Valente with youngsters Devin Benson and Tristan Allen. The teams have had a week of practice under their belt after a two week quarantine and months of practice since the long pause began and there shouldn’t be any excuses on the x’s and o’s front.
The Chilliwack Chiefs come into action going 3-3-2 in the exhibition campaign. In exhibition play the Chiefs were led by Ayrton Martino with 10 points and 4 other players with 6 points. However only 1 player of the bunch remains on the active roster in Brett Rylance. Everyone else has gone on to other commitments in the USHL, WHL and beyond. The Chiefs have restocked the shelves and have always been a powerhouse in the BCHL when it comes to recruiting. They’re extremely well coached under the guidance of Brian Maloney and Brad Rihela and will come into action ready to impress in their home pod even though for this game, the Centennials will get the honor of being the ‘home’ team.
The Centennials stats will reset after tonights contest but Walker Erickson led the way in point production in the preseason with 6 points in 5 games played after exploding offensively in the final two games of the preseason. Jerzy Orchard, Trevor Isaksson and Talon Zakall all had 5 points.
The Chiefs are hoping Brett Rylance can recapture his form in the preseason where he tallied 6 points in 8 games, and also a familiar face and name will line up on the other side for the Chiefs in former Cent Jackson Munro.
The Chilliwack Chiefs were in fine form in the preseason when it came to special teams play and have the edge in both categories going into tonight.
Powerplay: Penalty Kill:
Cents – 16.7% (8th) Cents – 75% (15th)
Chiefs – 25% (4th) Bucks – 86% (6th)
Head Coach Derek Sweet Coulter says the team is grateful for the opportunity to play meaningful games and hopes they can come out swinging.
The Centennials look to start the pod season off with a win tonight.