The Merritt Centennials (3-13) look to keep the good times rolling against the Chilliwack Chiefs (10-6) tonight.
Last night it was The Cents who outwilled and outlasted the Prince George Spruce Kings for their first win of the pod season series against their northern rivals 6-5.
The first period, may have been the best first period from the Cents in the pod, but certainly against the Spruce Kings. Despite surrendering a shorthanded goal to Christian Buono to open the scoring, the Cents bounced back with an answer on the powerplay as Alex Ochitwa sent a backhander past Jordan Fairlie to tie the game and end the shutout streak PG had going against the Cents for 2 and some games.
Unfortunately, in the second period the Cents were outclassed by the Kings as they poured it on from start to finish, but Colton Phillip-Watts kept the Cents in it throughout. Amran Bhabra scored his first in the BCHL when he threw it past the crowd in front it took a deflection and found a way past PW to make it 2-1. The Cents finally came to life in the late goings of the second as Matteo Pecchia blasted a shot so hard from the half wall that it went in and out of the back bar so fast that the officials didn’t catch it and waved it off. The officials didn’t have to review it because before the next whistle Ben Ward crashed to the goal mouth and added his 2nd of the pod to tie the game 2-2. The Cents got into penalty trouble late but survived to the buzzer.
After a fairly defensive effort from both clubs in the first 2 periods, the third saw that thrown out in favour of offense. Ben Ward got an early breakaway chance that Fairlie got a toe on, but was hauled down so went back to centre for a penalty shot. Ward couldn’t make good as he came in with a head of steam and opted for the shot which Fairlie caught a piece of with the blocker to hold the score level. Simon Labelle would tally on the 5-on-3 advantage to give PG the 3-2 lead. Ochitwa would net his second of the game at the 3 and a half minute mark to tie the game back up 3-3. Just over a minute later Trevor Isaksson would dust off the baseball bat and swing one from knee-high home to make it 4-3. The lead didn’t last long as John Herrington tied things up 2 minutes later with a move off the wall and a shot up high on PW to make it 4-4. Then from stage left came Walker Erickson scoring on a goal mouth scramble to make it 5-4, then 20 seconds later following that up with a partial break and a lazer top corner glove side to make it 6-4. All the action happened before the 10 minute mark of the third. Prince George would make things interesting with a goal from Rowan Miller that he’d bank off Talon Zakall, but the Cents would baton down the hatches and Colton Phillips-Watts would turn aside 46/51 shots for his 1st BCHL win, and the Cents first win against the Spruce Kings in the pod.
Chilliwack is coming off a 7-3 loss to the Prince George Spruce Kings and will be ready for some revenge, but the Cents are looking to use the confidence they gained last night to give them a shot in the arm to get past the Chiefs. Merritt has dropped a pair of 5-3 decisions to the Chiefs before a 6-5 loss. The Cents picked up their first 2 wins of the pod against the Chiefs and other than two 3 goal games, these teams always seem to play each other tight so don’t expect anything less tonight.
Walker Erickson is the first Cent to reach double digits in scoring and leads the team with 11 points. Talon Zakall and Matteo Pecchia have 8 points, and going from zero to hero over night is Ben Ward with 7 points.
Chilliwack is led by Kyle Penney with 16 points, Ethan Bowen with 14, and Sasha Teleguine and Tanner Andrew have 12 points.
The Chiefs have the edge on the special teams front.
Powerplay: Penalty Kill:
MER – 10.8% (14th) MER – 77.9% (10th)
CHW – 16.7% (11th) CHW – 82.5% (7th)
In net Colton Phillips-Watts is coming off a gutsy game against the Spruce Kings where he picked up his first win and is now 1-3 with a .863 SV% and a 5.75 GAA. Josh Dias is 2-9 with a .888 SV% and a 4.09 GAA.
On the other side Mathieu Caron has carried the bulk of the starts for Chilliwack and is 8-5 with a .899 SV% and a 2.81 GAA while Jakob Gullmes is 2-1 with a .901 SV% and a 3.15 GAA.
Acting Head Coach Levi Stuart says the team showed themselves the blueprint of how they have to win.
The Cents are hoping they can follow that blueprint to success again tonight.
Puck Drop 5PM. Pregame 4:45 with Jared Thomas and Michael Reeve on Q101.ca and BCHLTV.ca.