Friday, October 18, 2013

'Backs Visit Centennials To Kick Off Parents Weekend:

With the 19th Annual Icebreaker set for Saturday night, the on ice festivities begin on Friday for the Merritt Centennials, as they host the surging Salmon Arm Silverbacks at 7:30 with the Centennials also welcoming their families to the Nicola Valley.

Salmon Arm has a record of 7-5-0-1 coming in to the game, but many of those losses came in the opening weeks as they have now won 5 of their previous 6 games. Like Salmon Arm, Merritt has been cranking up the heat with wins in 5 of their last 7, and the Cents sit at 8-7-0-0 on the season.

Alex Gillies has been the leader to this point on the season for the purple 'n silver, scoring goals in his past 5 games, totalling 14 in just 13 games this season. He's had help though, as teammate Landon Smith is tied in points with Gillies. Back for one final season, Adam Clark has been solid between the pipes but still has more to offer.

Diego Cuglietta has been the Centennials best player as of late, scoring 10 points in the month of October(6 games). The Cents top line, although not on the stat sheet every night recently, has really stepped their games up, with guys like Sebastien Pare and Scott Patterson beginning to play in different areas of the ice. Devin Kero has begun to control the ship, with a 92.5 save percentage through 9 starts, along with a 2.20 goals against average. Russell Sanderson is back in action, so we could see him at some point this weekend.

Details on the Q101 broadcast can be found below!

SALMON ARM SILVERBACKS(7-5-0-1) 15 Pts - 5th in Interior

The offense is there, the goaltending is there, and with key contributions from the blueline I think it's safe to say the defense is there too. This is a 'Backs team that has the leagues best penalty kill, and although there poweprlay hasn't been great to date, the potential is there with depth throughout the lineup.

Players like Alex Jewell, Riley Hunt and Jeff Kennedy could be weapons ready to strike, as the three have a combined 5 points this season with a combined 247 BCHL games under their belts. With the way the overall team stats appear for the Silverbacks, it wouldn't be a stretch to say those three players are doing a great job at playing the roles coach Troy Mick wants them to play, and there the offensive numbers will eventually grow. Gillies and Smith are currently tied for 3rd in BCHL scoring with 20 points.

The 'Backs are fortunate to have returned their goaltending tandem from last season in Angus Redmond and Adam Clark. Redmond is committed to Michigan Tech for the 15/16 season which means he'll get next season to prove himself as the starter, but for now he'll work hard for his time behind Clark. The 20-year old from Sherwood Park, Alberta was a backup to Kurt Williams two seasons' ago and is looking to improve on a .914 save percentage from last season.

MERRITT CENTENNIALS(8-7-0-0) 16 Pts - 4th in Interior

The Centennials lead the 'Backs by a single point, but trail Vernon by a single point as well for 3rd in the division. The parity in the BCHL is unmatched for the most part this season, and the Cents are up to the challenge of staying near the top. Along with the improved play of Cuglietta, James Neil has stepped up big time getting the pucks from the dirty areas while Bennett Huber is beginning to really find his stride and plays a strong role in every game.
Devin Kero continues to hold the eight ball as Russell Sanderson isn't quite game ready, but when he is, he will have to play hard to dethrone Kero, who has kept his team in nearly every game he's suited up for. A below .500 record doesn't speak any volumes to his play, although his personal stats do refer more to his on-ice performance. Sanderson looked sharp in the early-season, and if he goes tonight we know we will see a goalie that is eager to make big saves for his team and pump the crowd up.

Payton Schaefer remained on the back end in Penticton on Wednesday during the double-OT victory, and it's possible he will suit up there again. The captain looked very comfortable and always supported his teammates, and he will sit 33rd all time on the Cents all-time games played list after tonight with 135 regular season games suited up in. Shane Poulsen had 2 goals and an assist in Penticton, so watch for him to continue with his momentum!

Tune in live on Q101 at 7:00 PM with the Norgaard Ready Mix pregame show, as we chat with Luke Pierce about his teams' game on Wednesday and what they need to do tonight to continue the success. We'll also be joined by Troy Mick of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, it will be great to finally interview Troy after knowing him for much of my life!

You can tune in online at, and, while the mobile broadcast is available on the TuneIn Radio App! 

Tomorrow night is the Centennials 19th Annual Icebreaker, and I hope to see lots of fans and parents out at the Civic Centre! I'll be emceeing the event so you know where to find me! Find a Centennials committee member at the game tonight and get your ticket, 50 bucks a pop!

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