The Merritt Centennials (3-14) look to get back to the win column against the Prince George Spruce Kings (11-5-1) tonight.
On Sunday, the Cents were able to make a late come back charge, but it wouldn’t be enough to find the late equalizer as they’d fall to the Chilliwack Chiefs 4-3.
The first period saw the Chiefs and Cents trade chances, but the Chiefs were the only ones who could bury as they shot out to a two goal lead with markers from Ray Fust midway through the frame and Trevor Longo late. Shots after 1 were 20-9 Chiefs and Josh Dias was a big reason why the game remained close.
It took until midway through the frame for the offense to find the teams again, but again it was the Chiefs who would strike first. Ethan Bowen would add to the lead on a goal mouth scramble. Liam Visram would get the Cents on the board when he drove into the zone and set up in front of the net, after Talon Zakall made some moves and levelled a shot from the blueline Visram scored on a deflection to make it 3-1. The Cents couldn’t escape the period at that score line though as they’d allow another goal from Dawson Good to make it 4-1 at the end of 2.
To their credit the Cents, as has come to be expected, didn’t go quietly into the night. After grinding in the offensive zone the Cents drew 2 penalties in quick succession and got a 5 on 3 advantage. Unfortunately, they couldn’t get set up and make anything happen. With the clock winding down the Cents got another chance on the powerplay and after some quick puck movement Ben Ward deflected home a Brandon Dent shot to make it 4-2. Zack Dallazanna would add a goal with 2 minutes left to make things interesting, but the Cents couldn’t find the late equalizer with he net empty. Cents went 1/5 on the powerplay while they were 3/3 on the PK.
Prince George is in a rare slump in the pod after dropping two games in a row. Losing 3-0 to Chilliwack on Monday and a tight 6-5 loss against the Cents on Saturday. The Chiefs now hold a one point lead in the pod standings, but PG has a game in hand. The Cents will need to tap into the team that was able to grind out a win on Saturday and play some of their most inspired hockey of the season.
Walker Erickson leads the team in points with 11, and after breaking through with his first points of the pod season just 3 games ago Ben Ward is now 2nd in scoring with 9 points, along with Talon Zakall and Matteo Pecchia.
The Prince George Spruce Kings are led by former Cent Christian Buono with 21 points, Andrew Seaman has 16 points, and Nick Rheaume has 14 points.
PG has the edge when it comes to the special teams battle, but the Cents are improving late.
Powerplay: Penalty Kill:
MER – 12.7% (13th) MER – 78.8% (10th)
PG – 21.8% (5th) PG – 87.3% (3rd)
In net the Cents have got solid performances from Colton Phillips-Watts and Josh Dias. Dias is 2-10 with an .891 SV% and a 4.09 GAA. PW is 1-3 with a 5.75 GAA and a .863 SV%.
PG has a great trio they can cycle through the pipes. Kobe Grant is 2-0 with 2 shutouts, both against the Cents. Aaron Trotter is 5-3 with a .931 SV% and a 1.66 GAA and 2 shutouts. Jordan Fairlie is 4-2 with a .897 SV%, a 2.53 GAA and 1 shutout.
Assistant Coach Levi Stuart says that the team will need to get back to basics and win the small battles.
The Cents are hoping they can win another game against the Spruce Kings tonight.
Puck drop 5PM. Pregame 4:45 with Jared Thomas and Michael Reeve on Q101.ca and BCHLTV.ca.