Saturday, November 9, 2013

Centennials Begin Weekend Double Header With Home Ice Win:

To step up and lead a team to victory in the BCHL is a task that takes tremendous character and desire to succeed, and that is exactly what Scotty Patterson exemplified on Friday night as his two goals helped the Merritt Centennials slip by the Langley Rivermen 2-1.

The Centennials got another equally credited effort from the goaltender Devin Kero, who made 33 saves in the victory, many of them were a result of a strongly positioned Kero.

Both of the Centennials goals were assisted by Sebastien Pare and Jake Clifford, who both chipped in with very strong games among many other Cents. Marcus Vela scored the lone Langley goal early in the game.

With the victory, the Centennials jump right in to top spot in the Interior Division with a record of 13-9-1-0. The Mainland Division leading Rivermen fell to 13-6-1-1 on the season, with a single point lead over Prince George.

Marcus Vela opened the scoring just 1:02 in to the game when he moved in to the Cents zone on the left wing and caught Devin Kero off guard, slipping the puck between his legs. The clubs exchanged opportunities over the next 10 minutes or so, and at the 13:41 mark the Centennials struck back as Jake Clifford moved the puck up ice and attempted to fire it up to Patterson but the biscuit would slide to Pare first as he set up Patterson for a big time shot in the low left circle that beat Steve Myland to tie the game. Both teams had a single penalty in the period, but Dylan Bowen's minor extended in to the second period as the Rivermen outshot Merritt 11-5 in the period. That number did get changed to 11-5 Merritt on the BCHL box score, but I am not sure when/why that got reversed.

The early stages of the middle period had the Rivermen set up their powerplay early but a strong shorthanded effort from the 'caged' Centennials in Diego Cuglietta and Rhett Willcox killed it off and got their team momentum. Clifford moved up the right side boards just over 2:00 in to the period, chucked it ahead to Pare who once again found Patterson, who as the goal call stated, "He roofed it!", 2-1 Cents. After the goal, the two teams had to turn to developing everything and anything, but opportunities became fairly scarce with several neutral zone whistles and a fair share of penalties as well. Adam Tracey took a hard knee-on-knee collision early in the period, and did not return to the game as Cuglietta filled in for the most part with Zach Hartley and Willcox. Langley had a 13-11 shot advantage in the period, but at that point trailed the game 2-1.

Another player who played a strong game in a Cents jersey was AP Luke Santerno. It was his BCHL debut and he looked very comfortable, especially in the latter stages of the game when Coach Joe Martin gave him opportunities to strut his stuff. The game had an increased physical presence as it wore on, and you have to commend Ref Brandon Liefke for keeping everyones emotions in check, as both teams had just four man advantages. Saturday night has the potential to see a carry-over, so make sure to tune in to another exciting game! At one point late in the period, Mitch McLain turned the puck up ice and moved towards Kero and Cents goal before putting the puck in the net as he crashed in to the goaltender. The officiating crew consulted the goal, but waved it off. From my view, the puck was in the net before the net was off, although it may have been a goalie interference penalty, which would've negated the goal anyways. Merritt ended up hanging on for a squeaker, as the Rivermen pressed but couldn't beat Kero to tie the game up.

Strong games were turned in by many Cents, as I mentioned, but a side note needs to be made on the game played by Gavin Gould, Sam Johnson, Devin Oakes, and Malik Kaila on the back end. All four players played very strong in all areas of the ice and their legs were always moving. Not to mention more than one of those guys had to stand up for a team mate at some point of the game.

Merritt is on the road on Saturday in Langley for Part 2 of the home-and-home series, beginning at 7:15 from Langley Events Centre. Tune in to Q101 as the Norgaard Ready Mix Pregame Show begins at 6:45!

After a trip to Langley, it's another near-week off, before the Vernon Vipers are in Merritt Friday of next week for their first visit of the season! Come down to the rink early and see Graham Turnbull, former voice of the Cents!

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