The Merritt Centennials are ready for another rematch with the Prince George Spruce Kings and are looking for their first win over the boys in blue in pod season.
The Centennials didn’t struggle to find the back of the net on Wednesday night as 5 different goal scorers tallied and the Cents hung on to edge the Chiefs in a 5-4 victory.
The opening frame saw the Chiefs score first. After the Cents were on a powerplay, a bobble at the line led to a Brett Rylance breakaway and despite making the first stop, Josh Dias couldn’t stop the rebound and the Chiefs broke out to the 1-0 lead. The Chiefs were pouring it on in throughout the period, but the Centennials D bolstered by he return of Trevor Isaksson to the back end held strong. Late in the period with Zack Dallazanna in the box, Josh Dias made a big stop followed by a fine defensive play from Chase Cooke who swept the puck off the line to save the Cents going down 2-0. Shortly thereafter Talon Zakall found Captain Dallazanna jail breaking out of the box with a pass behind the D, he broke in alone against Caron and beat him with a move to the backhand to tie the game 1-1.
The second period started with a powerplay for the Cents, and it didn’t take them long to convert. Jake McLean feathered a pass cross-ice to find Jerzy Orchard, who one timed it past an out stretched Caron to give the Cents their first lead of the game. Midway through the frame the Cents found themselves on a rare 4-on-1, it appeared they had run out of room when Matteo Pecchia’s shot went wide, but he followed up his own try and threw out front where Jake McLean was able to tally for the Cents to make it 3-1. The Chiefs would score on an odd man rush of their own with Tanner Andrew scoring to make it 3-2. The offense continued a minute later when Brandon Dent was able to steal a puck at the defensive blue line and break in all alone, make a series of dekes and beat Caron to make it 4-2.
The Cents found a way to hang on in the 3rd period and they needed a little more offense to do so. After breaking into the zone, Brandon Dent took one shot that was blocked, collected his own rebound and fired on net where Matteo Pecchia deflected home his 2nd of the pod season to make it 5-2. The Chiefs wouldn’t go quietly as they got lucky on a Cents own goal credited to Liam Tanner to make it 5-3. Then with the Cents skating back for an icing, they were beaten to the puck, and the Chiefs threw it quickly to the back door where Cam Johnson was waiting to make it 5-4. The Chiefs pulled the goalie to push for the equalizer with 2 minutes remaining, but Josh Dias and the Cents hung on for the win.
The Prince George Spruce Kings were finally able to overcome the Chilliwack Chiefs on Monday night but they weren’t able to replicate it on Thursday night. The Chiefs scored in the first period and Mathieu Caron did the rest with Tanner Andrew adding an empty netter to make it a 2-0 final. The Spruce Kings have been capable of huge offensive outbursts as the Cents are well aware, but have also had some tamer offensive games. The Cents will be hoping for the latter tonight
The Centennials seem to have a mental block when it comes to Prince George. They play and match up great against the Chilliwack Chiefs, but when it comes to PG they can’t quite bring that same fire. The Cents will have to pretend that the Spruce Kings are wearing the Maroon and gold tonight and try and replicate the solid games they’ve had against the Chiefs and bring it to PG.
Jake McLean has moved back into the team lead in points with 6. Jerzy Orchard, Matteo Pecchia, and Talon Zakall are just behind at 5 points each.
The Spruce Kings are led by Christian Buono and Andrew Seaman up front with 8 points while Nick Rheaume and Mason Waite have 5 points.
The special teams battle sees Prince George with the pod best stats.
Powerplay: Penalty Kill:
MER – 14.3% (9th) MER – 79.5% (11th)
PG – 19.4% (7th) PG – 91.4% (3rd)
The goaltending duel sees Josh Dias being the netminder of note for the Cents. He’s 2-4 with a 3.84 GAA and an .889 SV%. Colton PW and Brayden Melnyk are waiting in the wings should he falter.
Prince George has one of the strongest goaltending tandems in the league right now with Jordan Fairlie and Aaron Trotter. Jordan Fairlie is 2-1 with a .926 SV% and a 2.02 GAA. Trotter is 2-2 with a .935 SV% and a 1.51 GAA.
Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter said the team needs to mirror how the Spruce Kings have come together.
The Cents are hoping they can come together for a consecutive win in the pod.
Puck Drop 5PM. Pre-game 4:45 with Jared Thomas and Michael Reeve on BCHLTV.ca and Q101.ca.