Saturday, September 14, 2013

Merritt vs West Kelowna Game Preview (Game 4):

24 hours after the West Kelowna Warriors hit the ice one-by-one for their home opener, the Merritt Centennials will do the same in front of their own fans; and Cents fans are hoping to leave the rink just as proud as Warrior fans did last night.

The Cents and Warriors get going at 7:30 in the 2nd half of a home-and-home set to open the home schedule for both clubs, following a 3-2 West Kelowna victory last night at Royal LePage Place.

Sam Johnson scored in his season debut last night, while Jake Clifford picked up his first BCHL goal for Merritt, as getting on the board for the Warriors was David Pope, Liam Blackburn and Ambrose Firkus.

After tonight, it will be nearly a month before these two rivals meet again, as West Kelowna hosts Merritt on October 11th. The Warriors will then play host on December 12th once again before the two teams finally engage in a contest in Merritt on January 31st.

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


 1-2-0-0 Merritt Centennials 
 
Expect local product Russell Sanderson to get the call between the pipes as Luke Pierce stated during last night's pregame show. Devin Kero was great last night but the 1-2 combination of Sanderson and Kero now has a chance to prove itself as a duo to contend with in the BCHL.
 
The Cents man advantage improved immensely from the start of last night's game to the end, as the team even capitalized on the power play for the first time this season in the 2nd period. Special teams will play another important factor tonight as these two teams proved last night the rivalry is alive and well.
 
I've been very impressed with the rookie group of Centennials. Not only have they been stepping up off the ice, but on the ice as well. We saw last night several rookies getting out there for penalty kills, power plays and late period shifts. Expect Luke Pierce to continue to give the younger players a chance to prove themselves and grow their games to the Junior A level and beyond.


 1-2-0-0 West Kelowna Warriors 
 
Before last night's game, Warriors coach Rylan Ferster told me that his team was struggling to establish an identity. As last night's game went on, that identity began to clarify itself as the Warriors lineup stepped up from top to bottom. They were quick to move the puck, very creative in the offensive zone and worked their way under the skin of the Centennials.
 
I wouldn't be surprised to see the path to the penalty box continue to be paved tonight, following a tight game called last night by Mike Langin. West Kelowna may not get away with as much in Merritt, where the crowd hopes to play a factor in frustrating the Warriors.
 
The Warriors looked great up front, but in their own zone they will have to continue to step their game up in keeping pucks to the outside, although last night several Cents shots were blocked by Warrior players in great defensive position.



Game time between the Cents and Warriors is 7:30 at Nicola Valley Memorial Arena, with the Norgaard Ready Mix Pregame Show beginning at 7:00 sharp. Catch the game on the radio dial at 101.1, or online at Q101.ca or through BCHL.ca.

Click this link to listen live!

Following tonight's game, the Cents focus will shift from West Kelowna to the Trail Smoke Eaters, as the Red, Black 'n White make the trip to the Cominco Arena for a 7:30 start. The Q101 broadcast begins with myself at 7:00!

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