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Preview: Smoke Eaters look to sweep first weekend of 2020 against the Centennials

The Smoke Eaters will look for the perfect start to the 2020 calendar year as they host the Merritt Centennials following a 6-3 win on Friday night.

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 7pm

January 7th @ Cominco Arena 7pm

January 18th @ Cominco Arena 7pm

February 22nd @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena

It wasn’t how they drew it up but the Smoke Eaters surged in the third period on Friday night in Merritt to earn their 24th win of the season. The power play came through in the third for the game winning goal as Kent Johnson had two goals and two assists in the win. As they shook off the rust and the turkey dinner, it was back to usual by the time the third period rolled around. The Centennials had eyes for an upset and stayed with the Smoke Eaters for 46 minutes, but the offensive tools at Jeff Tambellini’s disposal proved to much. The Smokies will want a better start tonight on home ice and not let Merritt linger around too long. As 5-on-5 Merritt was the better team through two periods. Carson Briere should be full of confidence after picking up his first goal last night.

Smoke Eaters leading scorers:

Johnson (29-44-73)
Ozar (16-32-48)
Colella (16-31-47)
Lapointe (15-22-37)
Ghirardosi (18-14-32)

As Merritt head coach Derek Sweet-Coulter said last night his team is growing in confidence and have just lacked the ability to close out games. It was the perfect start for the Cents going up 2-0 after the first. More so in the third when they scored just 27s after the Smoke Eaters had tied it up to retake the lead. A goal that so often proves pivotal in deciding games. But the Smoke Eaters were able to get the puck past Tanner Marshall in the third, after he had denied Johnson on three one timers at the back post in the second period. He may get the night off after facing 49 shots last night.

Merritt Centennials leading scorers:

Buono (9-22-31)
Matsui (8-17-25)
Tkac (8-15-23)
Van Unen (9-9-18)
Manty (7-11-18)

Join us tonight back at Cominco arena as the Smoke Eaters host the Centennials for the for the first time this season. Puck drop is 7pm, with the broadcast starting at 6:50pmĀ on HockeyTV or Mixlr with Ben Phillips .