Radio: EZ Rock AM 800
Webcast: Fasthockey Pay-Per-View
The scene shifts to Merritt, as the Centennials host the Penticton Vees in game three of their best-of-seven Interior Division Semi-Final; the Vees lead the series 2-0.
Penticton held serve on home-ice earlier this week, outscoring the Cents’ 14-3 in two wins, 8-0 in game one Tuesday and 6-3 in game two on Wednesday. In game two, the Vees came back from a 3-1 second period deficit, scoring five unanswered goals, including four in the third period.
Cody DePourcq and Brad McClure had strong showings once again, as DePourcq picked up a pair of goals and dropped the mitts with Merritt’s Gavin Gould. McClure finished with a game-him two goals and four points in the win.
The power-play had its positives and negatives in game two, as it manufactured three third period goals but also coughed up two short-handed goals in the first two periods; the Vees only surrendered four short-handed goals all season. Special teams has had a hand in the Vees success so far, as their power-play is 4-11 in two games and the penalty-kill is a perfect 3-3.
Hunter Miska and Olivier Mantha split the first two games, and keeping the goalie rotation in mind, all signs would point to Mantha getting the start tonight. He shutout Merritt in game one, stopping all 20 shots faced and if you include the regular season, he’s 3-0 against the Cents’ with a .955 save-percentage; just three goals against.
The Vees don’t appear to have any changes elsewhere in their line-up, as Josh Blanchard and Max Coatta are your likely scratches.
The Vees have proven you can carry regular season success into the playoffs, as they’ve won four in a row and six of their last seven, dating back to the regular season. They’re 7-3 in their last 10 games have scored an impressive 20 goals in their last four games.
Four Vees are fresh off being named BCHL All-Stars, as Brett Beauvais and Brad McClure were named to the league’s First Team, Hunter Miska was voted as a Second-Team All-Star and Alex Coulombe was named to the BCHL’s All-Rookie team.
The Vees split three games in Merritt this season, winning 5-4, tying 1-1 and they lost 2-1; that their last visit to Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (NVMA) on January 17th. Since 2005, the Vees have had quite a bit of success in Merritt in the playoffs, as they’re 6-0 against the Cents’ at the NVMA.
Merritt is hoping a change of scenery will spark a comeback; they look to sweep their two home games this week. As the saying goes in hockey, you’re never in trouble unless you lose on home-ice; the Cents’ can take that to heart.
If the Cents’ are going to cut into this series deficit they’ll need to get some offensive production up front and they’ll need to stay out of the penalty-box.
The Cents’ have just three goals in the first two games and just one at even strength. In their previous three games before the playoffs, the Cents’ had scored 14 goals. Two players the Cents’ will need to lean on will be Jeff Wight and Scott Patterson. They combined for six goals and 18 points in the Cents’ last 10 games to end the regular season, but have combined for just one goal two points in as many playoff games.
Devin Kero is your likely starter for Merritt; he’s started the first two games of this series but sports a 6.38 goals-against average and a .843 save percentage. However, he hasn’t had much support and was named a Second Team BCHL All-Star this week, after maintaining a .917 save percentage in the regular season.
Merritt is a tough place to play for opposing teams, considering the cramped conditions the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena present; skating in a phone booth. The Cents’ to no one’s surprise were a very good home team this season, as they had a 17-7-4-1 record at NVMA.
No word on the status of Jason Bird or Dane Birks, as those two defensemen missed game two in Penticton. Bird suffered an injury in game one and Birks has been late scratches in the first two games of this series. Remember, the Cents’ are also without their top point-getter in Diego Cuglietta, who was hurt on the final weekend of the regular season. Rhett Wilcox also hasn’t dressed for this series, as he too has been sitting out with an injury.
Vees Playoff Stats
Vees Playoff Scoring
Cody DePourcq 3-3-6 Brad McClure 4-1-5
Shane McColgan 2-3-5 Nic Pierog 1-4-5
Erik Benoit 0-4-4 Matt Serratore 1-2-3
Riley Alferd 1-1-2 Cam Amantea 1-1-2
Paul Stoykewych 1-1-2 Brett Beauvais 0-2-2
Jack Ramsey 0-2-2 Steen Cooper 0-1-1
Ben Dalpe 0-1-1 Jarod Hilderman 0-1-1
Patrick Sexton 0-1-1
Olivier Mantha 1-0-0 / 0.00 / 1.000 SV %
Hunter Miska 1-0-0 / 3.00 / .857 SV %
Cents Playoff Stats
Cents’ Playoff Scoring
Sebastien Pare 1-1-2 James Neil 1-0-1
Scott Patterson 1-0-1 Jeff Wight 0-1-1
Devin Kero 0-2-2 / 6.38 / .843 SV %
Jarrod Schamerhorn 0-0-0 / 12.38 / .667 SV %