Friday, September 20, 2013

Merritt vs Trail Game Preview (Game 6):

After dropping three straight games after a come from behind win in the season opener, the Merritt Centennials returned to the win column on Tuesday as they defeated the Trail Smoke Eaters 5-0 in Trail.

Tonight, the two clubs do it all over again as the Cents come in with momentum, as Scott Patterson is coming off a hat trick performance and goalie Devin Kero is riding high after a 28 save shutout performance in which featured several highlight saves.

For Trail, they haven't had much for bright spots as of late as Nicholas Patey as the teams lone goal in their past trio of games, and goaltender Adam Todd's goals against average is approaching 5.00 while his back up Dustin Nikkel's numbers are up at a similar point. The Smokies; if they want to be successful tonight, need to consistently play strong in both ends of the rink.

 Details on tonight's Q101 broadcast can be found below.


Something the Centennials were unable to do until their victory on Tuesday, was play with a lead and adapt to that approach to the game. Coach Pierce made a point in saying on the post game show that it was important the guys got used to playing in front, and that it may not always be a four goal lead they're defending heading in to the third period.

The effort put forth on Tuesday was superlative at times, and everyone in the lineup from top to bottom was chipping in on the ice whenever needed. The Centennials did take some hits though, as Rhett Willcox and Diego Cuglietta both left the game with injuries and did not return; their status' this evening will be revealed during the pregame show.

If the Cents want to be back at .500 after tonight's game, they need to continue to play a simplified game on both ends of the rink. They will be in front of a hometown crowd this evening, so expect the atmosphere to be electric as the game Tuesday was just a foreshadow of excitement for what we'd see on the smaller Nicola Valley Arena ice surface.


The Smokies are desperately looking for offense, after scoring just once in their past three games. If you separate the Smoke Eaters lone win from the losses, they've been outscored 21-4 in four games. Their win was a 6-2 victory over Cowichan Valley, which came in the second game of the BCHL Showcase. 

One thing I noticed during Tuesday night's game, was the lack of the Smoke Eater's ability to keep the puck active around the boards in the offensive zone while keeping that body in front. I have been impressed with the Cents ability to cycle the puck early this season, even if it isn't always successful, but Trail needs to try and step it up in the offensive zone and put some pressure on the Centennials. That said, there was still pressure put on the Cents on Tuesday, but Devin Kero had a good sight line on the majority of shots and the few rebounds that did get out were more often than not swept out by Merritt's defenders.

Greyson Reitmeier is a new face for the Smokies, after being released last week by the Saskatoon Blades. Reitmeier is a Nakusp product and was a free-agent invite by the Blades to training camp, where he potted his first WHL goal in exhibition. He is just 16 years old, and we'll have to wait until game time to see if he makes his debut in orange tonight.

The Norgaard Ready Mix Pregame show gets underway at 7:00 PM on Q101, as well and Puck drop is 7:30. On the pregame show, we'll discuss a former Centennial turned teacher that is currently playing pro in the land down under. We will also chat with Bill Birks and Luke Pierce as a part of Between the Benches, brought to you by Kal Tire.

The Cents will be back on the airwaves tomorrow night from Kal Tire Place in Vernon as they take on the Vipers, the team I grew up watching in that very barn. It should be a very entertaining game, hope to see you make the journey!

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