Cents enjoy St. Valentine’s Day massacre
Maybe the Nicola Valley Community Band needs to perform at Cents’ games more often!
With the accomplished local orchestra providing a solid ‘wall of sound’ throughout the game, the Merritt Centennials celebrated St. Valentine’s Day in style, mowing down the visiting Vernon Vipers 7-1 on Tuesday night.
The ever-so sweet-tasting win officially ended the Cents’ six-game losing streak, and vaulted them back into second place in the Interior Conference of the BCHL, one point ahead of the Prince George Spruce Kings.
Just as importantly, the fifth-place Vipers’ loss leaves them nine points behind the Centennials in the Snakes’ desperate attempt to earn a spot in the playoffs.
The six-goal margin on the scoreboard in favor of the Centennials represents the most decisive victory by Merritt over any BCHL opponent thus far this season.
Leading the way for the Cents in Tuesday’s crucial contest was the trio of Chad Brears, Regan Soquila and Brandon Bruce. All three had a three-point night, while both Evan Stack and Richard Sabourin contributed two points apiece.
According to Brears, it was definitely a nice feeling for the Cents to put the losing streak behind them, and get the proverbial ‘monkey off their back’.
“It’s a relief, for sure,” said the 20-year-old native of Cold Lake, Alberta. “Especially to do it in that fashion.”
Asked what was the reason for the dramatic turnaround in the team’s fortunes, and the seven-goal outburst by a Cents’ squad that had found the back of the net only five times in their last six games, Brears replied, “I think that everybody was really focused. Also, we got back to relaxing almost, and keeping a positive attitude on the ice and in the room.”
The second-year Cents’ centre and product of the Princeton Posse said that a really enjoyable practise on Monday might have had a lot to do with the Cents’ good vibe going into Tuesday’s game.
“The coaches actually had us playing soccer and Ultimate Frisbee on the ice. It was a lot of fun.”
Goals by Soquila, Brears and Bruce, as well as Brent Fletcher and Carter Shinkaruk represented contributions from three of the four Centennials’ forward lines, something that had been lacking in recent games.
“What makes us a great team is our depth, and we proved it [Tuesday night],” stated Brears.
The Cents almost went a perfect four-for-four against the Vipers in terms of line contributions. An apparent goal by fourth-line centre Brayden Low was disallowed because of a late offside call.
Between the pipes, Lino Chimienti was outstanding, stopping all but one of 37 shots thrown at him by a desperate Vipers’ squad.
Next up for the Centennials are games in Coquitlam on Friday and at home versus the Chilliwack Chiefs Saturday.