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PREVIEW: Smoke Eaters look to stay perfect against the Centennials

The Trail Smoke Eaters will look to get back in the win column as the Merritt Centennials come to town. It will be the first of two meetings this week as the Centennials will return to Cominco Arena on Saturday.

Regular season series vs Merritt

October 4th @ South Okanagan Events Centre (BCHL Showcase) 7-1W (BOXSCORE)

November 27th @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena 9-2W (BOXSCORE)

January 3rd @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena 6-3W (BOXSCORE)

January 4th @ Cominco Arena 5-2W (BOXSCORE)

January 14th @ Cominco Arena 7pm

January 18th @ Cominco Arena 7pm

February 22nd @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena

The Smoke Eaters, who have already won four in a row against the Centennials, will look to make it five, as they start a three game home stand. Following a weekend split against the Penticton Vees, the Smokies return home with a chance to guarantee themselves a playoff spot. The Smokies found a way to get the job done in the last meeting against the Cents winning 5-2. That despite another strong goaltending performance from Tanner Marshall who faced 52 Smoke Eater shots. Owen Ozar picked up his first BCHL Hat Trick in the win, a performance that has vaulted him into #2 in league scoring. The Smoke Eaters currently control the BCHL scoring chart with Kent Johnson running away in first with 78 points, Ozar now at 51 points in second and Micheal Colella in third with 49 points. Matt Osadick will play against his former team for the first time since being acquired. After scoring his first goal for the Smokies on Saturday in Penticton he’ll love nothing more than to get one against his former team.

Smoke Eaters leading scorers:

Johnson (31-47-78)
Ozar (19-32-51)
Colella (17-32-49)
Lapointe (15-27-42)
Ghirardosi (18-14-32)

The Centennials are yet to win a game in 2020 as they dropped both games this past weekend to the West Kelowna Warriors. Merritt, now the lone team outside the BCHL Playoffs, continued to shake things up with various moves at the deadline. One they didn’t predict was defenceman Tyson Galloway returning to the WHL for the remainder of the season. They do have Daniel Tkac back from the World Juniors to help them get back on track. Tanner Marshall faced 101 shots over the two games against the Smokies, while giving up 11 goals, gave his team a chance to win both nights. The Cents will want to stay more disciplined tonight after two ejections and 10 power play opportunities given to the Smoke Eaters in the last game. Things also got a little nasty in the third with Kyle Pow and Olson Werenka dropping the gloves in a heavyweight tilt. We won’t get to see a rematch however as Werenka was dealt at the deadline. Tensions in this one could still boil over between two sides that have shown they don’t like each other.

Merritt Centennials leading scorers:

Buono (9-21-30)
Matsui (10-18-28)
Tkac (8-15-23)
Manty (8-12-20)
Van Unen (10-9-19)

It’s bound to be another great game as the Smoke Eaters look to knock off the Centennials for the fifth time this season.  Puck drop is at 7pm from the Trail Memorial Centre. As always you can catch the game starting at 6:50pm on HockeyTV or Mixlr with Ben Phillips and Rob Squires.