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GAME PREVIEW: Smoke Eaters Wrap 2018 Schedule In Merritt vs. Cents

PHOTO: Mike Hockley

The Trail Smoke Eaters look to finish off the calendar year on a high note as they wrap up their pre-Christmas schedule with the home-and-home finale against the Merritt Centennials at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena on Saturday night.

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Smoke Eaters vs. Centennials 2018/19 Schedule:

Saturday, November 17th @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (4-2 Centennials) (BOXSCORE)

Friday, November 23rd @ Trail Memorial Centre (2-1 Smoke Eaters/OT) (BOXSCORE)

Friday, December 21st @ Trail Memorial Centre (5-2 Centennials) (BOXSCORE)

Saturday, December 22nd @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (7:00 PM)

Saturday, February 2nd @ Trail Memorial Centre (7:00 PM)

Saturday, February 16th @ Nicola Valley Memorial Centre (7:00 PM)

The Smoke Eaters and Centennials meet for the fourth of six meetings to cap off their pre-Christmas schedule on Saturday night with Merritt winning two of the three matchups thus far. Trail got 3rd period goals from Owen Ozar and Trevor Zins, each scoring their 7th markers of the season but fell short in their comeback effort in a 5-2 loss to the Cents on Friday night at the Trail Memorial Centre. Adam Marcoux turned aside 20 of the 24 shots he faced in the game in his 18th defeat of the season in between the pipes for the Smoke Eaters.

Smoke Eaters Leading Scorers:

Chase Stevenson (14-20-34)

Carter Jones (12-19-31)

Braeden Tuck (11-18-29)

Kent Johnson (11-14-25)

Trevor Zins (7-18-25)

Trail concludes their 2018 schedule with a matchup against the Centennials tonight and a 2018 that saw plenty of highs for the organization. The Smoke Eaters come into their final game of the calendar year holding a 36-39-6-5 record over the course of 86 games in 2018, including the Smoke Eaters 16 game playoff run after the 2017/18 regular season.

Smoke Eaters leading scorer Chase Stevenson added to his total on Friday night with a pair of assists to up his total in that category to 20 on the season. The University of New Hampshire commit has points in three of his last five games, with all of those being multi-point contests, including a three-point night against Penticton last Saturday night. The West Kelowna, BC product has two goals and five assists for seven points over that five-game stretch to sit just outside the top 20 in league scoring.

Owen Ozar has compiled a nice end to the year 2018, coming into tonight’s matchup riding a three-game point streak. The Prince Albert, Saskatchewan native has a pair of goals and two assists for four points over that three-game stretch with a goal and an assist effort on Wednesday night against the Wenatchee Wild. Ozar has goals in back-to-back games for the first time in his BC Hockey League career and has collected 16 points in 24 games played this season.

The Merritt Centennials enter play on Saturday night holding a 22-13-1-1 record and sit 3rd in the Interior Division after a 5-2 win over the Smoke Eaters on Friday night at the Trail Memorial Centre. Christian Sabin and Nick Granowicz each scored a pair of goals in the game while Brett Roloson added a single in the Cents win. Vincent Duplessis looked strong in goal, turning aside 30 of the 32 shots he faced in his 8th win between the pipes this season for the Centennials.

Centennials Leading Scorers:

Bradley Cocca (16-33-49)

Nick Granowicz (23-21-44)

Nicholas Wicks (10-28-38)

Mathieu Gosselin (14-23-37)

Matthew Kopperud (17-16-33)

A pair of point streaks were extended for the Cents on Friday night as each of Nicholas Wicks and Matthew Kopperud factored into the scoring in a big way. Wicks brought his point streak to nine games with an assist, totalling him at 5 goals and 9 assists for 14 points over that span while Kopperud pushed his point streak to six games with two assists on Friday, stretching his numbers to 5 goals and 7 assists for 12 points over that time.

The Centennials head back to the comfy confines of the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena for tonight’s matchup, a building that has served them well this season. Merritt holds a 14-5-0-0 record in their home arena, which ranks them tied for 3rd in the league in wins on home ice as well as ranking them 4th in the BCHL in points collected on home ice this season. Merritt sits second to only Penticton in goal differential at home this season at +27 and lead the league in goals for on home ice with 90 markers this season.

The Smoke Eaters and Centennials drop the puck on the final game of 2018 at 7:00 PM from the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena. The pre-game show gets underway at 6:50 PM on mixlr.com/trail-smoke-eaters as well as HockeyTV.com with the Voice of the Smoke Eaters, Trevor Miller.