Devin Kero has been freshly labelled as the starting goaltender until Russell Sanderson returns, and Merritt should be hungry to get back to winning ways, and back above .500 on that note as they sit at 7-7-0-0 heading in to the SOEC. Penticton, on the other hand, is looking for win #4 in a row as they sit at 9-3-0-0 on the season so far.
The Vees are coming in to the game following a rematch of the 2011 Fred Page Cup final on Saturday night in Powell River, a game which the Vees stormed back from down 3-1 to win 4-3 in overtime(with two goals in the final minute, might I add). Merritt picked up a win over PG on Thursday to win their fourth straight, but two losses to West Kelowna and Coquitlam have the Cents wanting some points.
Details on the broadcast can be found below!
PENTICTON VEES (9-3-0-0), 18 PTS - 2ND IN INTERIOR
Battling with the West Kelowna Warriors for top spot, the Vees know there is a lot on the line tonight as they have a chance to bet the Cents twice in their own barn and start the season series off on the right foot. With the Warriors off tonight, Penticton has a chance to jump a point over WK for tops in the division.
The Vees lost forward Ryan Gropp to the WHL this week, and while it is a tough loss for the team, expect them to be perfectly fine. Gropp is a projected high draft pick and was off to UND next season, so it is natural a player of this caliber expects the most opportunity on the ice to excel, and that is something he will get more of in Seattle rather than in Penticton.
Brad McClure chipped in with a pair of goals and an assist over Powell River, as he and Cody DePourq added the only goals 24 hours earlier in Prince George during a 2-0 win. That game on Saturday was the Vees' first in which they won despite allowing more than two goals, so scoring goals against them seems to be a Achilles.
MERRITT CENTENNIALS(7-7-0-0) 14 PTS - 4TH IN INTERIOR
Tonight has the Centennials facing a tough test in the Vees, but it is no stretch to say the team has it in them to pass this test with a high score on the paper. There are pieces to the Centennials game we know can work as an advantage against Penticton and if we see the puck go deep with a player flying in behind it, the Cents could set themselves up to move to 5-3-0-0 away from home this season.
Devin Oakes scored his first goal of his fresh BCHL career on Saturday night, and he has brought a strong physical game to Merritt so far with a knack for the dirty areas as well, including in front of the net. Payton Schaefer moved to the back end on the weekend, so we'll see if he returns up front tonight or not, although he looked very good at D and not once looked over or under cautious.
The play of Diego Cuglietta has been something else as of late. You'd think playing with a cage might affect a guy, buy he just shakes right through it and does his business as he will. He has 7 points in the month of October, and along with guys like Scotty Patterson and Sebastien Pare, there are sure to be many more points.
The Centennials need to play the kind of game their fans know they can tonight. Fast and bruising. Expect the puck to get to centre very quickly and then even quicker get in to the offensive zone, where the Cents should try to pressure turnovers (see: Cuglietta). Merritt has had great support in their own zone and up ice with players covering positions, and that helps a team always be accountable.
Listen live beginning at 6:30 on Q101 as the Centennials return to the same rink that was jam-packed for the Vees home opener back on September 27th. Luke Pierce will join us along with Fred Harbinson as a part of Kal-Tire Between the Benches, and Luke will also chat during the intermission as a part of BCHL This Week!
Listen live at BCHL.ca and Q101.ca, follow @dustinscafe, @BCHLCentennials or @Q101Merritt for period-by-period updates on Twitter!