Game Time: 7pm
Listen: EZ Rock AM 800
Season Series: Sept 27th 5-0 Centennials, Oct 8th 4-2 Penticton, Nov 21st at Penticton, Nov 22nd at Merritt, Dec 17th at Merritt, Jan 16th at Merritt, Jan 23rd at Penticton, Feb 20th at Penticton.
Vees Home Record: 10-1-0-0
Vees Record vs. Interior Division: 11-2-0-0
Vees Leading Scorer: Riley Alferd 16-12-28
Centennials Road Record: 5-7-0-0
Centennials Record vs. Interior Division: 9-5-0-0
Centennials Leading Scorer: John Schiavo 15-9-24
What’s Old is New Again: Two long time Interior rivals renew acquaintances at the SOEC tonight. For the first time in 44 days the Vees and Merritt Centennials face-off. You have to go back to early October to when these two interior foes last played. It was Wednesday, October 8th, at the SOEC where the Vees won 4-2 over the Cents’; that avenging a 5-0 loss in Merritt on September 27th. The Vees are 14-2-0-1 since they last played the Cents; Merritt is 9-7-0-0. Both teams are playing some of their best hockey, as the Cents’ have won four straight and the Vees are riding a three-game win streak. After tonight these two go at it in round two, tomorrow in Merritt at Nicola Valley Arena. After this weekend these two don’t meet again until December 17th.
Another Night, Another Debut: Connor Chartier made his Vees debut on Wednesday in Penticton’s 4-1 win over Langley. Tonight Dakota Conroy makes his Vees debut against the Cents’. Conroy’s CJHL playing rights were acquired from Vernon in the Liam Finlay trade last month. Conroy started this season with the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League and is coming off a 30-goal season with the Raiders last year. The Edmonton, Alberta native spent the past four seasons in the WHL with Prince Albert, Victoria and Brandon. Conroy will wear number 67 and will likely be paired on a line with Connor Chartier and Lewis Zerter-Gossage.
Making “Cents” of the Opposition: As mentioned above, the Centennials are coming into tonight’s game on a roll. The Cents’ have won their last four straight and what makes than more impressive is the fact three of the four wins were against divisional opponents. Merritt took out Cowichan Valley 6-4 last Sunday but also recorded wins over Salmon Arm, West Kelowna and Trail in the last week. The Cents’ come into this weekend’s action just a single point back of second place West Kelowna. With a win tonight and a West Kelowna loss against Vernon, the Cents’ can slide in right behind the Vees in the standings.
Helping the Merritt cause has been forward John Schiavo who was just named the BCHL Player of the Week. Schiavo had three goals and two assists in Merritt’s four wins last week, including the game-winner against Cowichan Valley last Sunday. Schiavo leads the Cents’ in scoring with 15 goals and 24 points and leads the team in power-play goals with seven.
Rookie goaltender Anthony Pupplo has started three of the Cents’ last four games and has carried the mail for most of the season, after Jonah Imoo went down with an injury in early October. Pupplo has won his last four starts and has a .922 save-percentage in the four games. The New York product took the loss against Penticton back on October 8th but did make 30 saves. Imoo picked up the win last Sunday against Cowichan Valley and since returning from injury has posted a 1-2 record with a .876 save-percentage in those three games. Numbers aside, Pupplo and Imoo are two very capable goaltenders and the Cents’ are spoiled in net.