Losing streak drops Cents to third place
The Merritt Centennials’ sixth loss in as many games, a 4-1 setback to the Vernon Vipers on Friday night, has resulted in the Cents falling to third place in the BCHL Interior Conference standings, one point behind the Prince George Spruce Kings. The Sprucies, who are currently on a five-game win streak, vaulted past the Cents on the weekend thanks to a pair of wins in Trail on Friday and Saturday nights, and an 8-2 drubbing of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks Sunday afternoon.
The Centennials, who have lost six-of-seven since a seven-game win streak of their own ended Jan. 20 in Alberni Valley, have seen a once-formidable 10-point lead in the standings evaporate in the last three weeks. In addition to the Spruce Kings overtaking the Cents for second place, the fourth-place Chilliwack Chiefs have moved to within four points of Merritt, and the Vernon Vipers are just six points in arrears. Both teams have a game in hand on the Centennials.
Lack of offense has been a big part of the Centennials’ recent hardships as the team has scored just 11 goals in their last six games. All but two of those goals have been scored by Merritt’s top line of Evan Stack, Regan Soquila and Chad Brears. Stack alone has five of those goals.
In Vernon on Friday, the Vipers broke open a 1-1 tie with three unanswered goals in the second and third periods en route to their second win in a row over the Centennials. The game got ugly in the late going with three separate fights and several misconducts.
The Cents and Vipers have had four days to cool off before their eighth and final meeting of the regular season, tonight at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena. Game time is 7 p.m.