The Merritt Centennials are hoping for a smoother ride in game 2 of the pod season as they take on the Prince George Spruce Kings tonight. Both teams have fallen victim to the Chilliwack Chiefs early on in the pod season, and both teams are looking to rebound. For the Spruce Kings it will be their 2nd game in as many nights, and for the Centennials, they’ll be thankful if they can avoid delays and start on time in Chilliwack for take 2.
After not one, not two, but 3 busses were needed to get the Cents to Chilliwack, the Chiefs were lying in wait and were ready to play off the opening puck drop. Just 38 seconds in Ray Fust scored on Chilliwack’s first foray into the offensive zone. The ‘away’ team on the night kept the pressure coming when Ethan Bowen tallied on a cross ice feed on the Chiefs first powerplay on the night. Bowen would add another at even strength before the period was done to put the Chiefs in the driver seat after the first leading 3-0.
In the second period, the Cents came out jumping. After some crashing and banging, the Cents were moving their feet and were able to draw some penalties. After they were able to catch Chilliwack with too many men on the ice, it was newcomer Matteo Pecchia deflecting home a Talon Zakall blast from the line that gave the Cents some life. Brandon Dent threw the pass cross-seam, Zakall threw the shot down low, and Pecchia was able to deflect it through the wickets of Caron to make it 3-1. Despite the Cents carrying the pace of play through much of the 2nd they were the victims of some misfortune. Jacksen Hungle was robbed by Caron who swept the puck off the goal line to deny the Cents a goal, and Zack Dallazanna had a goal waved off for goaltender interference. Too add to that Dawson Good made good on a nifty move to the backhand after his team mate got absolutely levelled by defender Trevor Isaksson.
The final frame saw the bounces go both ways, but the officials kept the whistles in their pockets. With free flowing play, the Cents were able to score when a Chase Cooke shot was blocked from blue line and deflected to partner Isaksson at the right point. Isaksson’s shot wouldn’t be denied as it knuckled and floated to the top corner blocker side. The Cents had time on their side behind by two with 13 minutes to go, but time quickly became the enemy and with time winding down and the netminder pulled the Chief’s Captain Kyle Penney made it a 5-2 final.
The Spruce Kings will be looking to take out their frustrations from the Chiefs as well tonight. PG could only muster one goal in a 4-1 loss to the Chiefs and that came off the stick of veteran forward Andrew Seaman. Former Cent Christian Buono and Tanner Main provided the assists. The Chiefs were able to shoot out to an early 2-0 lead in the first period, and despite PG not having to travel for games, they do have to be holed up in a hotel in Chilliwack for the entirety of the pod season. Wiebe, Longo, Fust, and Penney provided the offense for the Chiefs who early on look to have the pod edge, but Prince George is a veteran laden team who didn’t lose too many players to roster turnover across the long pause. Their line up also features a pair of former Cents in Hunor Torzsok and Buono. The Spruce Kings will be hungry to reignite the flame against the Merritt Centennials as the teams met 4 times in the exhibition season and PG held the 3-1 edge. The lone Cents win came 2-1 in Prince George.
Both teams will be looking to find some offense as neither bulged the twin with any frequency in game 1 of the pod season. Trevor Isaksson and Matteo Pecchia provided the goals for the Centennials so far.
On the other side, Andrew Seaman has the lone tally for Prince George.
The special teams battle sees the clubs split the advantage with the Cents having the edge on the powerplay and PG having the edge PK.
Powerplay: Penalty Kill:
Cents – 20% – 6th Cents – 66.7% – 11th
PG – 14.3% – 10th PG – 87.5% – 3rd
In net Josh Dias will get the call once again. He’s sporting a 4.00 GAA and a .857 SV%. Colton Phillips-Watts will be waiting in the wings.
Aaron Trotter got the start in PG’s debut and sported a 3.01 GAA and a .889 SV%. Jordan Fairlie and Kobe Grant make up the rest of the Spruce Kings goalie gang.
Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter is hoping that the game will start on time, and the Cents will show up ready to play at the opening buzzer.
Puck drop 5pm. Pre-game 4:45 on BCHLTV.ca and Q101.ca with Jared Thomas.