Sunday, October 13, 2013

Road Gets Rough To End Busy Weekend For Centennials:

Following a 3-1 loss to the hands of rival West Kelowna Warriors, the Merritt Centennials returned home on Saturday night hoping to rebound and get a win over the Coquitlam Express, the team they opened the season against on September 6th.

Daniell Lange scored his teams second goal, like he did back at the Showcase, but the Centennials were unable to replicate a comeback as they fell 4-2 on home ice to the Express, despite putting up 30 shots in the opening 40 minutes and 39 overall. Coquitlam improved to 7-3-0-2 on the season with the win while the Centennials fell to .500 at 7-7-0-0.

Devin Kero played in goal for the second straight night for just the first time this season, and made 30 saves on 33 shots. Gordie Defiel gave his team a chance to remain in front throughout the entire game and his 37 saves earned him 1st Star honours.

Merritt will have a couple days off for a Thanksgiving break before returning to game action on Wednesday in Penticton at SOEC. Coquitlam meanwhile, hosts Surrey on Wednesday.


Things would go Coquitlam's way in the opening period at times, but for the most part the Centennials seemed to put the most pressure on. Shots favoured Merritt and scoring chances probably did, too, but the Express picked up a pair of goals including the nights' first at 6:54. Cody Boyd was credited for that goal after he got the pack past Devin Kero on a Centennial defenceman miscue behind the net. Daniell Lange then converted on a smart dump in play from Marc Biega to make it 2-0 Express 14:38 in. Shots in the period were 15-12 Merritt. 

A misconduct penalty against Adam Smith of the Express put the Cents on an early-2nd powerplay, and they were able to convert as Diego Cuglietta received the puck on a feed from Jake Clifford on a sharp pass, after James Neil worked to out muscle his opposition to get the puck free to Clifford. It was a powerplay goal at 4:30, but the Express would strike back swiftly as Canon Pieper fired a shot past Kero 1:01 later. His brother Bo picked up a helper as well as Joey Santucci, who started the rush. Goaltender Defiel made one save after another to keep his team in it, as they allowed 30 shots in the opening two periods. Coquitlam trailed 30-23 on the shot clock to that point.

The Centennials got on the board once more as Dane Birks flew up the right wing, and reached the bottom of the circle when he threw the puck in front where it was deflected home by Devin Oakes. In just his 2nd BCHL game, Oakes buried his 1st goal, congratulations to him. Time of that goal was 12:03, as the Cents had life now down 3-2. Defiel made several more saves with his body to keep his team in front, including one on Rhett Willcox, who looked great in the game and nearly converted several times for his 1st. Adam Rockwood slid the puck in to the empty net as the buzzer sounded and the goal stood to give Coquitlam a 4-2 victory over the Centennials, dropping Merritt to the .500 mark and hopping over the Cents in the standings.

The Cents did not by any means play a poor game, just merely not a difficult enough game to play against. They took the body when need-be, but the Express countered and that is just evidence of coach Barry Wolff behind the bench. Was very impressed with the Pieper brothers once again, while Adam Rockwood looked strong but at times tried to be too fancy with his passing. His numbers definitely speak for themselves though. The Centennials got good efforts from Malik Kaila and Payton Schaefer, who both stood strong on the back end. Both blocked several shots and showed consistency throughout the game.


The Centennials need a win to stay in the early-season standings race, and they have their next chance on Wednesday night at South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton. It will be a 7:00 PM puck drop, as the Q101 broadcast sets up at 6:30.

Merritt then heads in to a busy weekend, with Friday night having them host Salmon Arm, and Sunday the Cents host Trail. In between, the organization hosts the 19th Annual Icebreaker, as parents and fans convene at the Civic Centre to celebrate Centennials Hockey!

Get your tickets at the Cents Marketing Office in the Merritt Chamber of Commerce Office!

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