Thursday, October 10, 2013

Merritt vs Prince George Game Preview (Game 12):

Two teams on the upswing meet this evening at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena in Merritt, as the Centennials head in to the game on a three game unbeaten streak, while the visiting Prince George Spruce Kings have won four of their past five games. Both teams came out on the slower side, winning just one of the first four games, but it appears the tides have turned.

Prince George has been riding the hot play of their netminder Alex Murray, who continues the tradition of the Sprucies being solid-as-ever on the back end. Although his status tonight is questionable, Jake LeBrun has the ability to steal the game especially when you figure in the talents of Brent Laschuk and Bryant Christian.

Merritt has seen a big improvement over the past couple weeks, notably from the veteran players. Sebastien Pare has stepped up to the plate immensely and led offensively, while Scotty Patterson continues to show he can dominate each and every night. James Neil has settled in and things are looking good in the net with Devin Kero and Connor LaCouvee having big games every chance they get.

Details on the Q101 broadcast can be found below!

 Prince George Spruce Kings (6-4-0-1) 13 pts, 3rd Mainland Division

Defensive battles have been present in three of the past four Spruce Kings games, with no more than three goals being scored in those three contests'. Most recently, it was a 1-0 loss to the Victoria Grizzlies 24 hours after the Centennials knocked Victoria off.  Backup Jesse Jenks was solid in goal that night, but his offense failed to give him the support he needed.

The night prior to that, Alex Murray stopped all 20 Vernon Viper shots in a 3-0 win on home ice, as Mitche Eden, Jeremiah Luedtke and Christian Weidauer tinkled the twine in the third period. That night resulted in the loss of LeBrun for the Sprucies, and his status tonight is unknown. 

Prince George's special teams haven't factored in too much in their games played to date, but their penalty kill will have to be good tonight as the Centennials have the league's 2nd best powerplay conversion rate on home ice. Merritt tied PG in the North last September, before dumping the Spruce Kings 6-2 a few nights later in the Nicola Valley, a game which Pare had 3 points for Merritt.

Merritt Centennials (6-5-0-0) 12 pts, 3rd Interior Divsion

Merritt's balanced approach to the game is improving significantly, with the team having carried an equal force from their own zone right through to deep in the opposition zone in the past few games. Coach Luke Pierce has appeared to have felt out his lineup and found where everyone fits in, although injuries have made things difficult through 11 games.

Merritt's success last season against Prince George came in the opening month of the season, and the 2013/2014 season series will also see the two clubs play games close together, as the Cents visit PG on October 24th. With both of these teams having a chance to make big statements in October, it should set up for fiesty game tonight between two hardworking teams.

Scott Patterson has 6 points in the past 3 games, while Sebastien Pare has picked his offensive play up with 3 goals and 2 assists in the past 3 games. Diego Cuglietta has also been a very bright spot, with a pair of goals and 5 points in that same span, while Dane Birks has chipped in 4 assists since the Cents seemingly found their stride with the Sunday afternoon win over Cowichan Valley.


The Q101 broadcast begins at 6:30, with the early puck drop time set for 7:00. Find the broadcast online at Q101.ca, BCHL.ca, and on your smart phones with the TuneIn radio app!

It's World Women's Hockey Awareness Weekend and I'll be joined by a special guest to commemorate the occasion during the intermission show!

Merritt takes to the highway for West Kelowna tomorrow, before returning home Saturday to host Coquitlam in the final game of the season series.

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