Friday, September 24, 2010

Game Preview: Centennials @ Kings

The weather outside indicates it's hockey weather and so does the calendar..ahhh it's finally here. The Kings welcome the Merritt Centennials to the Hap Parker weekend in the first of two games featuring Interior Conference opponents.

You can quickly browse the standings in the BCHL and see Merritt's 1-4 record and say, well this should be a Kings win. However if games were played on paper, then why would we endure a 60 game schedule plus playoffs? Just ask the Vernon Vipers.

Yes the two-time defending national champions were up ended 5-4 in OT, at home, to the Centennials on Tuesday. Their first win dating back to February 17th when they downed the the Silverbacks 6-4.

The Cents started this season, dropping their first four games by a combined scored of 24-11 including surrendering 6 goals or more in all but one of those games. However with a young team, your going to expirence growing pains.

The Cents' have 12 rookies on their roster, a statement to the direction this club is undertaking. As in May the team announced a three year plan to compete for the RBC in 2012-2013.

I spoke today with Brian Wiebe, colour commentator for Merritt  and the man behind the Making Cents Blog. He told me, Head Coach/GM Luke Pierce has set a goal of winning a first round playoff series this spring. Wiebe noted, that would most likely mean the team needs a top 4 finish in the Interior. Something That maybe obtainable with efforts like Tuesday night's.

Lets take a look at the Centennials.


 On paper this club has an nice mix of experience and youth one through twelve. Granted, veterans Dustin Johnson and Jeff Jones are expected to lead the offensive charge. Johnson is coming off an 19 year-old season where he lead the team in goals (35) and points (67) , and Jones amassed 27 goals and 52 points. However, Luke Pierce is expecting large contributions from his newcomers. Regan Soquila, yes he is the younger brother of Jordan, should complement Johnson and Jones this year. Soquila collected 45 points in 39 games with the NE Chiefs in the BCMMHL last season, puting him second in team scoring. Also, California native, Max Vallis will look to add a solid second line scoring presence for the Cents'. Vallis captained his midget squad last season, and finished, like Soquila, second in team scoring. Sprinkle in some grit and offensive production down the line from the likes of Alexander MacMillan and Evan Stack and  this group should find the net with some regularity. Keeping goals down against will be key also.


Pierce returns three veterans on the back end from one season ago. The trio is lead by captain, and 20 year-old Golden native, Steve Tresierra. Tresierra finished with 27 points last season, and is a point a game player to start this year. What I've been told, Tresierra leads with his dedication on and off the ice.  Complementing Tresierra, are returnee's Jeff Zmurchyk and Kameran Crawford will likely eat up lots of ice time tonight, and throughout the season as well. The Cents' are high on two new faces on the blue line. Brandon Pfeil is making the jump from Jr. B on the lower mainland and Richard Sabourin comes from the Okanagan Rockets. Also you can include 16 year-old rookie, Reece Wilcox who will be trying to make the switch from Midget Tier 1 in Surrey to the BCHL. That is no small feat in its' own.


Luke Pierce went out and acquired Jared Andersen from the Grand Prairie Storm of the AJHL to give his team experience in goal. Andersen was the back-up to Chad Carder, whom was briefly a Nanaimo Clipper last season. I see this move as an opportunity for the Cents to develop Tyler Steel at an comfortable pace.

Head Coach Luke Pierce is of the mentality of what have you done for me lately. He has clearly stated the he won't play a veteran player for the sake of their age. Perfect example, which raised some eyebrows, was Alex MacMillan being scratched against Vernon. Pierce isn't afraid to jungle his line-up and keep his players on their toes to maximize their potential. With a young team such as Merritt's, I find this a refreshing approach. I certainly hope, Pierce will have the opportunity to build this franchise back up, and reach their full potential


The Kings come into tonight's game after a successful weekend prior. The Kings took two out three, including both games against Victoria, before losing a see-saw affair with Surrey.

The top line of Chad Niddery, Matt Garbowsky and Dan Schuler is El Fuego. The three have combined for 31 points and scored all but 5 of the teams goals so far this season. Depth scoring has been been an concern early on, however it seems that is being reversed.

Looking back on the weekend, Cohen Adair scored his first two of the season, the first a OT winner against Victoria. On Saturday 36 goal man one season ago, Andrew Pettitt, put home his first and rookie Craig Dalrymple bulged the twine on Sunday.

Specials teams have been a key so far this young season for Powell River. The Kings own the second best power-play at 36 percent and had a very strong penalty-kill going into Sunday's game. Yes, the Eagles, did take a bite out of the PK, but it still sits 5th. Top five special teams is what every coach wants, and that's where the Kings sit.

I believe we will see a more disciplined and smarter team with the puck tonight at the Hap.

See you at the rink,

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