That work will continue through this week in practice as the Centennials weren't able to develop many scoring chances in Sunday's game against the Langley Rivermen, being held to just 22 shots on net in a 1-0 loss on Mark Whiteley's lone goal for Langley.
There were bright spots for the Cents, who were sporting their brand new Bauer uniforms. Defensively, the blue line was difficult to break and the Rivermen offense had trouble working to the middle of the ice. In goal, Devin Kero was fantastic, making several key saves to give his team a chance to win in his BCHL regular season debut.
In goal for Langley, Brock Crossthwaite was sharp, making every save needed in his first ever BCHL shutout. Crossthwaite spent time with 3 different Junior A teams last season, split between Ontario and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Defenceman Chris Forney was particularly strong on the back end as well, getting pucks on net and keeping shots to the outside.
It may not have been the start either team was looking for, as the first period seemed sluggish and didn't give either team much time to generate offense, with the final shot count only registering in at 5-3 in favor of Langley. There were a few hard checks in the period, including one that sent the Cents to an early game powerplay, as Mitch McLain got a little too rough with a Merritt player, nearly forcing him in to the Langley bench.
In the middle period, things began to formulate and the players started to look a little more patient with the puck. That said, aggression also picked up as both teams had a trio of man advantages in the period. It was Langley who would benefit though, at 4:16 as Will Cook gave the puck to Mark Whiteley who ripped it past Devin Kero to open the scoring with just two seconds left in a 5-on-3 situation. The Cents would get their power play chances later in the frame, but Langley's ability to hold the line kept Merritt to just 7 shots in the period in contrast to the Rivermen's 11. Devin Kero responded to the goal with a few huge stops before the teams went to the break.
As the third got underway, Kero continued his dominance by keeping the door shut on more Langley chances, while in the other end it was Brock Crossthwaite putting up some big stops to preserve the lead. Merritt was pressuring constantly when James Neil was given an elbowing penalty, which allowed Langley a few minutes to ease pressure off their goaltender. The Cents got right back to work after killing the penalty though, skillfully working the puck around the boards while unable to get shots through the traffic. A 12 shot period for Merritt may be good enough any other night, but Crossthwaite and the Rivermen were able to hold off on the Centennials for their second straight win while edging the Cents 23-22 on the shotclock and 1-0 on the scoreboard.
The entire league is now off until Friday night, when all but two teams return to the ice. That night has the Centennials at Royal LePage Place in West Kelowna for the first meeting of the year between them and the Warriors. Game time is 7 pm while your Norgaard Ready Mix Pregame Show begins at 6:30.
The following night is the Cents home opener as the two teams rematch for a 7:30 start at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena, with the Q101 broadcast firing up at 7:00!
A big thanks goes out to the BCHL crew and the Chilliwack Chiefs for putting the Showcase together once again! What a resounding success! Also a thanks to Ron Gallo from Prince George for kindly loaning the Q101 broadcast a longer phone cord as our broadcast location was in a very interesting and fun place! And lastly, thanks to the players, staff, fans and listeners for making my first weekend so special!
JERSEYS! Check out these threads....
|Photo Credit Ian Webster - Merritt Herald|