Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cents Win Two Straight:


FINALLY! What a weekend it was for the Merritt Centennials as they snapped their nine game winless skid in a big way. First with a tight 2-1 win over the Prince George Spruce Kings last night and then with a 9-3 blowout win against the Quesnel Millionaires tonight.

As expected, the 9-3 win featured a number of positives for the Cents.

- F Colton Sobchak (90) scored his first career BCHL hat trick and has points in four straight games
- D Matt Mazzarolo (90) scored his first career BCHL goal
- With his goal, F Dustin Johnson (90) has scored seven in his last nine games
- With his assist, D Steve Tresierra (90) now has six points in nine games with the Cents since being acquired from Vernon
- With a goal and two assists, F Michael Nardi (90) posted his first multi-point game since joining the Cents from Prince George and his first multi-point game overall since Sept. 8
- D Brad Bourke (89) made his return to the lineup with a goal and an assist after missing the previous five games with concussion-like symptoms
- With a goal and two assists, F Kevin Philp (90) now has ten points in his last ten games
- By chipping in with three assists, F Gary Rai (90) has seven points in his last five games
- For G Kyle Nielsen (89), it is his second straight win and second straight night of making more than 30 saves. He kicked out 32 shots against Quesnel after a 41 save performance last night against PG.
- The six goal margin of victory was the team's largest this season (the previous high was three on Sept. 14 in a 6-3 win against Prince George and on Oct. 26 in a 4-1 win over Penticton)
- The nine goals is the most scored in a game this season, and most scored in any game since a 10-1 win in game three of their opening round playoff series against Trail back on March 10, 2006. In regular season play, tonight's nine goals is the most the Centennials have posted since an 11-4 thumping of the Burnaby Express WAY back on December 17, 2005.
- The seven goal third period is the most scored in any period this season (the previous high was five on Sept. 18 in a 7-5 loss to Westside)

The Centennials did have one AP in the lineup against the Mills as D Steven MacDonald (90) played his sixth BCHL game and picked up his first career BCHL point with an assist on Sobchak's first goal (which would turn out to be the game winner).

F Alessio Tomassetti (89), D Jake Baker (91), and F Jordan Soquila (89) were the only Centennials to not register a point, although Soquila did have a spirited scrap with F Josh Fersovitch (89) in the third period and all three still played a strong game.

It was really good to see the guys with lots of smiles at the end of this one in a season in which both the Centennials and their fans haven't had a whole lot to smile about. Here's hoping they can keep the good times rolling on Wednesday against Penticton.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Debt ridden Cents facing extinction, investors needed:

This is from Thursday's Merritt News.

John O'Connor, Reporter

The Merritt Centennials president has denied rumours that the team will be relocating to Kamloops and says the team could fold in investors are not found.

After weeks of rumours in newspapers and on blogs that the Merritt Centennials were part of a deal that would see them go to Kamloops in exchange for a Junior B team, the team may end up folding.

"When people stop pumping in money, it will fold," said Centennials president Tom Reynolds.

There are several interested buyers who could save the Cents from extinction, but so far no deal has been made.

The team has amassed $60,000 in debts this season for a total debt of $350,000. The team owns a house that was being sold for close to $900,000, but Reynolds says they won't get what they are asking because of the sliding real estate market.

In order for the team to just break even with the current operating budget, they would need to sell at least 350 season tickets and average 350 paying fans per game.

As for the rumours of being swapped for the Kamloops Storm, Reynolds says the team is not currently looking at relocation. There is no league deadline to relocate the team.

Fans have been complaining about the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena, the performance of the team, and coach Al Glendinning, according to Reynolds.

"I'm not certain that if we had a bigger arena things would be better," said Reynolds.

The Centennials are on their way to matching their worst record, posted back in the 83-84 season in which they only won eight games. This season the Cents have won seven games and have only 11 games remaining. They have not had a winning season since 2005-06 when current head coach Al Glendinning won the BCHL coach of the year award.

Glendinning has been behind the Cents bench since 2002. This will be the second straight season he hasn't taken the team to the post-season.

The BCHL estimates that on average, coaches last four to five years with a team.

In order for a coaching change to be made, there has to be a majority vote by the Centennials board of directors.

"If fans aren't interested in coming out, perhaps we don't deserve a team," said Reynolds. "We expect to be here next season - we don't know how, but we expect it."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Island Misadventures:

This was in today's Merritt Herald.

By Chris Koehn - Merritt Herald
Published: January 27, 2009 6:00 PM

The Centennials returned from a four game road trip to the Island last weekend. Here’s a roundup detailing the results.

Thursday: Cents VS Alberni Valley Bulldogs.

A successful powerplay goal and worthy effort from two call-up players couldn’t ignite the Cents as they lost to the hosting Alberni Valley Bulldogs, the first of four back-to-back Vancouver Island games for Merritt.

The Bulldogs took advantage of defensive breakdowns and kept their teeth firmly clamped on Merritt’s jugular until the halfway mark of the first period.

Finally, Merritt came alive and began shooting the puck, but to no avail as Alberni sniper Mitch McMillan walked in alone and wristed one past a handcuffed Harrison May.

Minutes later, Merritt malfunctioned on the powerplay and gave a two goal lead to Alberni Valley in a water-bottle mixup. May’s water bottle fell off the net and got caught up in Paul Forster’s skates.

A forechecking Chris Moulson seized the opportunity, snapping up the puck from a flustered Forster and jammed it in between May’s pads and the post while knocked to the ice himself.

The Cents opened up second period action with more defensive zone doldrums, finally sparked by Casey Fratkin who initiated, and won, a fight against larger opponent Sam Mitchell.

The Cents took the advantage on the powerplay and came together for a goal. Dustin Johnson hesitated, dragged his toe, sidestepped the defense and roofed one for his 15th of the season.

Goaltender May bailed his team out as the team struggled with nerves.

The Cents run into problems whenever they try to get a handle on their momentum.

Merritt settled down, and posted a 10-8 shot lead against the Bulldogs for the period. The lack of scoring finish was felt once again as the players left over from trades learn their new roles in the rebuilding effort.

Quality scoring chances failed to materialize. Alberni Valley put it away with a wicked snapshot from Brian Kang on a two-on-one.

Game notes: Evan Burgess, a 16-year-old call-up logged his first assist in his first Junior A game. His efforts netted him second star of the game. Sean Menton, another call-up, played with the Centennials for the third time in his career. Menton fit right in but had a little trouble finishing on a few excellent scoring opportunities.

Friday: Cents VS Nanaimo Clippers.

Kyle Nielsen started for the Centennials as they visited the Clippers the following night, collecting another loss during their dismal Island tour. Nanaimo beat Merritt by a score of 6-3.

The Cents seemed somewhat awakened by the fact that they had a chance to win Friday’s game against Alberni Valley, and stormed out of the dressing room with Dustin Johnson registering his second goal in as many nights to open the scoring.

Nanaimo weathered the brief squall though, and managed to squirt one past Nielsen alongside the post thanks to the efforts of Clipper Eric Filou.

Nanaimo then stepped up their game and quickly put a foot down on the struggling Merritt team.

In the second, Nanaimo rode their wave and tallied a goal from Colton Cyr on a sharp angle deflection long before the Centennials even registered a shot. The Cents kept working at it though, and tied it up on a play involving Codie Kightley, Casey Fratkin and Gary Rai. Then, Jordan Soquila found fellow Centennial Kevin Philp who deftly backhanded the pass for the go-ahead goal.

Once again, Merritt was unable to contain themselves and focus their excitement. They found themselves tied once again barely half a minute after gaining the lead. Merritt had no business even being this close to Nanaimo as the Clippers outshot the Centennials 14-3.

The Centennials faced their third period nemesis (lack of finish) again and allowed Nanaimo to run wild. Merritt was soon deflated and an empty netter let Nanaimo double-up for the win.

Game notes:

Dustin Johnson continued to lead his team in effort, and registered his second goal of the road trip.

Brad Bourke was out with a concussion. Merritt sorely missed their offensive blueliner.

Saturday: Cents VS Victoria Grizzlies.

Another fast start and a failure to rebound left the Merritt Centennials foundering as the Victoria Grizzlies skated to a 6-3 win on Saturday.

Within two minutes, the Cents had jumped ahead 1-0 thanks to the powerplay resolve of Gary Rai. Steve Tresierra and call-up Evan Burgess registered the helpers. Merritt managed to hold their own throughout the entire period against one of the better teams in the league. The promising start would soon be a memory.

This seemed to be the recurring theme for the Cents as they toured the Island. Getting a decent start out of the gates, each hosting team seemed to realize that they had to give the visiting bottom-feeder team some credit and quickly quash any chance of Merritt stealing a victory.

The Grizzlies snuffed out Merritt’s enthusiastic first period play, exploding with 22 shots and four unanswered goals. Justin Courtnall, son of Grizzlies head coach and former Vancouver Canuck Geoff Courtnall, capped off a hat trick. A dazed Harrison May was yanked.

Nielsen started the third, and immediately faced the firing squad. Victoria’s offensive surges kept Merritt on their heels for seven minutes before they could register a shot. Nielsen was able to hold on, however, and help his team make a game of it stopping all 14 shots during the final frame.

Unfortunately the Cents were again unable to make up for the goal deficit. Perhaps tired from the constant hammering at the Cents netminder, the Grizzlies allowed two goals. Victoria then clamped down for good, putting it out of reach with an empty-net goal.

Game notes:

Evan Burgess played again, once more collecting assists for a total of three points over three games. Despite being hammered at relentlessly by the Grizzlies, the Cents’ penalty kill went 2-6. A feat considering the offensive power of the Victoria squad.

Sunday: Cents VS Cowichan Valley Capitals.

The Cowichan Valley Capitals were the fourth team in four nights to host a muddled Merritt team, and like Victoria did last night, Cowichan Valley took them too lightly during the first period.

Merritt started with some jump, made their way to the second period with dignity and then were absolutely crushed as their upstart antics awoke a sleeping giant. The Cowichan Valley Capitals finished the night, and the Centennials’ Island road-trip, with an 8-4 victory.

First period action saw Kyle Nielsen get the start, and what a start it was. Phenomenal saves ended nearly all of the Capitals’ scoring chances, including a sprawling, falling backwards glove save robbing Cowichan Valley’s Mickey Spencer of a wide open goal.

Up-and-comer, Evan Burgess, once again registered an assist as his jump and enthusiasm continue to mean points for a goal-starved team.

After allowing Merritt to play in the first, Cowichan Valley turned up the heat, completely owning the powerplay and scoresheet for six unanswered goals. Nielsen was eventually yanked and May finished the final ten minutes of play. May fared no better and wound up just as rattled as Nielsen.

Nielsen was given the chance to take over netminding duties in the third as May was far too cold to continue. Stopping 12 of 13 shots, Nielsen once again returned to first period form. Surprisingly, Kevin Philp found himself in the role as best player on the ice for Merritt.

Philp registered his third goal in three nights. Adding two more assists to his tally, Philp proved himself invaluable and able to step it up like so many other players have had to do as a result of recent trades decimating the scoring line.

The Centennials came home licking their wounds, but hopefully they realized that they’re capable of top quality play against some of the best in the league. If the Cents manage to control their youthful exuberance and inexperience, and turn it into focused effort, then there may be a bright future for Cents’ fans.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Island Storm Wraps Up:


The losing streak now sits at thirteen away from the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena and the Cents are winless in eight straight after another 6-3 loss last night, this time to Victoria.

I listened to the game on the radio and couldn't help but be impressed once again with D Evan Burgess (92). Two more assists against Victoria and the affiliate player now has more points in three games with the Centennials in junior A hockey than he does in 32 games of junior B hockey with Fernie. F Sean Menton (89) also got on the board with an assist in his fifth game as an AP with Merritt. F Dustin Johnson (90) had his three game goal streak snapped, but F Kevin Philp (90) has scored in two straight. Also nice to see both F Gary Rai (90) (nine games) and F Colton Sobchak (90) (seven games) break out of lengthy goal scoring slumps.

It was a much better start for the Cents against Victoria, notching the first goal and going into the second period tied. Unfortunately, that's when the wheels came off and the Grizzlies scored four straight. Credit the Cents for fighting back in the third period before F Myles MacRae (88) scored the empty netter to put the game out of reach.

The Centennials will bring this gruelling road trip to an end Sunday afternoon in Duncan against the Cowichan Valley Capitals. For D Curtis Gedig (91), it's his first game against his former team. Our McDonald's broadcast on Radio NL starts with the pre-game show at 1:30 and the opening faceoff at 2 o'clock. Listen live at 1230 AM in Merritt or on the BCHL Fanzone (if it's there).

Island Storm Continues:


After a tough 6-3 loss to the Nanaimo Clippers last night, the Cents continue their longest road trip of the season tonight in Victoria.

It wasn't a bad effort last night, good to see F Casey Fratkin (89) pick up two assists and his third point in three games while F Dustin Johnson (90) continued his torrid pace of play of late, with his fourth goal in five games. Unfortunately, the Cents just weren't able to score the equalizer after F Ronnie Smith (88) gave the Clippers a 4-3 lead. With the loss, the Centennials are now winless in 12 straight on the road and have a record of 1-30-0-1 when trailing after two periods.

The game's box score indicates that D Mike McCance (90) played for the Centennials last night against the Clippers, but that is an error that is expected to be correct. McCance was playing with the Kamloops Storm of the KIJHL in their 5-1 win over Chase last night, and accumulated 19 minutes in penalties in that game. The Cents did have F Sean Menton (89) and D Evan Burgess (92) as AP's in the game, and both are also expected to play tonight in Victoria.

Alex Grebenyuk is back on Radio NL with tonight's game from the Bear Mountain Arena between the Centennials and the Grizzlies. Listen live in Merritt on 1230 AM or on the BCHL Fanzone. Our pregame show starts at 6:40 and the opening faceoff follows at 7:10.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Cents Visit Nanaimo:


The Cents are back in action tonight as they head to the Harbour City to face the Nanaimo Clippers. It's the only meeting of the season between the two teams. They split the season series last year, with the Clippers winning 14-1 in Nanaimo while the Centennials won 5-4 in Merritt.

Our Brian's Banter feature during the first intermission will feature a chat with BCHL Player of the Week Spencer Bennett of the Surrey Eagles.

Tune in at 7 o'clock for our McDonald's broadcast on Radio NL 1230 AM in Merritt or live on the BCHL Fanzone.

Island Storm Starts With A Loss:

A tough 3-1 loss for the Centennials last night in Alberni Valley. Seven hours on the bus likely contributed to a slow start and a 2-0 deficit. On the bright side, good to see 16-year-old Evan Burgess make his BCHL debut and also be named second star! 19-year-old Sean Menton also played his third game in a Centennials uniform as an affiliate player. Dustin Johnson's goal was a beauty, here's how it was described by Cents play-by-play man Alex Grebenyuk on Radio NL:

Dustin Johnson's 15th goal of the season

Click here to download


For the Cents, it's their eleventh straight loss as they haven't been able to win away from the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena since Halloween night. They're also winless in six straight after starting the New Year with an OT loss and a win against PG and Quesnel.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Newspaper Coverage Summary:

Here's the latest newspaper articles reporting on the rumours surrounding the Centennials:

The Prince George Citizen:
The Merritt Centennials are for sale, but there is no truth to a rumour the B.C. Hockey League has approved the team's relocation to Kamloops.

http://www.princegeorgecitizen.com/20090121171168/sports/sports/centennials-for-sale-but-bchl-commissioner-denies-move-approved.html

The Nanaimo Daily News:
Over the past day or so there have been all sorts of rumblings on fan sites and message boards about the possible relocation of the Merritt Centennials to Kamloops.
http://www.canada.com/nanaimodailynews/news/sports/story.html?id=402fb310-3627-445c-9ce6-a142d1f3c77e

Kamloops This Week:
The head of the B.C. Hockey League says reports that the junior A Merritt Centennials have been sold and may be on their way to Kamloops are erroneous.
http://www.bclocalnews.com/bc_thompson_nicola/kamloopsthisweek/sports/37894624.html

Cents Superfan Fundraising for Cancer Research:


Merritt Minor Hockey player and Cents superfan Adam McCormack is fundraising to participate in Skate For A Cure. I interviewed Adam on my morning show today.

Cents superfan and volunteer Adam McCormack

Click here to download

If you'd like to help Adam reach his fundraising goal, click here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cents Not Sold -- Yet

Brian's Banter - Merritt News - January 22, 2009

The Merritt Centennials aren't relocating to Kamloops and KIJHL junior B hockey isn't coming to the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena anytime soon. Yes, there have been discussions by both the Cents Board of Directors and the BC Hockey League regarding the financial situation with the team -- which is not good, but contrary to published reports and rumors flying around, nothing has been approved regarding a sale or relocation. Kamloops Storm owner Barry Dewar has gone on record to say that he has no desire to relocate from the Tournament Capital to the Country Music Capital, nor does he have plans to relocate the Storm at all. So as far as I can see, the only way that the Cents and Storm can pull the old switcheroo is if someone buys both clubs, which would need to be approved by both the BCHL and the KIJHL, and then moves the two.

There are actually two stories on the go here. The first is that the Centennials are in financial disarray with a loss expected to be upwards of $60,000 this season and like any non-profit society, cannot sustain those types of deficits year after year. Director of Hockey Operations Rick Mettler and Interim President Tom Reynolds both confirmed earlier this week that there are discussions regarding a potential sale of the team, but nothing has been finalized with any potential ownership group and nothing has been presented to the BCHL Board of Governors for a vote. As for residents of Merritt and fans of the Centennials, we can only hope that if the club does end up being sold that a new ownership group gives it an honest kick at the can in our community before just pulling up stakes and relocating the BCHL's longest continuously run franchise.

The second story here is that Dewar says that Cents head coach and GM Al Glendinning was the one who approached him as recently as a month ago and as far back as a year ago about the Storm and Centennials switching communities. Cents acting President Tom Reynolds said that since Glendinning's titles are only coach and GM of the team, he doesn't exactly have the authority to speak to the issue of a sale. I would think that if Glendinning wanted to approach potential investors or ownership groups regarding the Centennials it should be in the club's best interests. If what Dewar is saying is right, and Glendinning was inquiring about moving the Centennials while on the payroll as an employee of the team, then there is a much bigger issue for the franchise's Board of Directors to deal with than simply the operations of the hockey club.

The bottom line is that the Centennials are a franchise on shaky ground and can use all the support they can get. It is imperative that hockey fans in the Nicola Valley show any prospective purchasers of the team that the community wants BCHL hockey here, the community deserves BCHL hockey here, and there's a reason why the Centennials are the longest continuously run franchise in the league. The Centennials have six home games left before the end of the season, it's up to the residents of the city of Merritt and surrounding areas to get out to the games and prove how much it means to us to have this level of hockey in our community, regardless of what you think of anyone involved in the club -- the coaches, players, board members -- no one is bigger than the franchise itself. Otherwise the overused cliche of "you don't know what you have until it's gone" could ring true.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Don't Put The Cart Before The Horse:

It's been reported in the Kamloops Daily News that the BCHL approved a sale of the Centennials and approved the relocation of the team to Kamloops. That from Cents head coach and GM Al Glendinning according to Kamloops Storm owner Barry Dewar.

I find it interesting that the story doesn't quote Glendinning himself nor does it get comment from either Cents Director of Hockey Operations Rick Mettler or Interim President Tom Reynolds. Also, the comments from the BCHL's Jeff Dubois on behalf of John Grisdale say that there's nothing to comment on.

I can confirm that there is in fact, nothing concrete to report on regarding a sale of the team. I have spoken with Mettler, Reynolds, and Grisdale and they each gave me indications that anything regarding a sale of the Centennials is far from completed. Mettler told me that there are discussions ongoing to sell the team, but nothing has gone to the BCHL at this point for the governors to vote on. Reynolds told me that the BCHL has not approved any sale and that Glendinning doesn't have the authority to speak on the issue. (Although the Daily News article quotes Dewar quoting Glendinning, so it's not Glendinning himself quoting on the issue.) Grisdale told me on Thursday that he's heard the rumours just like everyone, but that there was nothing to report on.

So take it with a grain of salt, I'm not saying that a sale of the Centennials won't occur at all, I'm just thinking that it's not nearly a done deal as much as it's reported in the Daily News.

As for moving the team to Kamloops, it would be heartbreaking for the community of Merritt because I would hope that any new owner would be willing to give it a shot properly for a season or two before just whisking the team out from underneath the residents. Shawn Mullin mentions on his blog about the attendance numbers, but they don't tell the whole story as I feel (with all due respect to the marketers that have been here) that the team has never been marketed properly. Most of that has been the budget constraints the marketers have been faced with. The old adage that you have to spend money to make money rings true here.

More on this situation as it develops...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Geerin AP's With Penticton:

D Jimmy Geerin (89), who the Cents acquired two weeks ago with F Scott Jacklin (90) from Cowichan Valley in the deal that saw D Curtis Gedig (91) go to the Capitals, has been added to the Penticton Vees roster as an affiliate player.

Geerin was suspended and subsequently released by the Centennials earlier this week and is free to sign with any team in the CJHL that has an open card, although since Penticton used their last card on F Max Grassi (88), it appears that Fred Harbinson is content to AP Geerin for the ten games he can play this season and then either sign him after the season is over or let him tryout for the Vees in camp.

It's disappointing that Geerin didn't want to report to Merritt as now the Centennials don't have anything to show for trading Gedig at this point. There are futures coming from Trail in the trade that sent Jacklin to the Smokies and those (whether cash or a player to be named later) will ultimately be what the Centennials get for moving Gedig to Cowichan.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Another AP on the Cents Roster:

The Centennials have added another affiliate player to their roster. It's D Lee Stone (88) from the Port Moody Black Panthers of the PIJHL.

Stone is a big body at 6'1" and 209 lbs, but his offensive prowess is what stands out the most as he has 20 points in 21 games since joining Port Moody from Sicamous of the KIJHL earlier this season. In fact, the Surrey product has produced five multi-point games, including four points in a game on Dec. 6 against Abbotsford.

No word on whether or not Stone will play tonight in Westside, but I would bet that he'll want to play against his hometown Surrey Eagles on Sunday.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

May Wins Interior All Star MVP and Bill Birks Speaks:

A big congratulations to Cents G Harrison May (89) after being named Interior Conference MVP at the BCHL All Star Game last night in Vernon. May made 21 saves on 24 shots as the Interior lost 13-5. Crazy that final shots in the game were 71-33 for the Coastal Conference and although he only faced 24 of them, there must have times when Harrison felt like he was back playing with the Cents. All kidding aside, May's performance showed to the rest of the league why he was deserving of the All Star honor and how he's been the Cents MVP this season as well.
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I had the chance to chat with Centennials assistant coach and director of player personnel Bill Birks earlier this week regarding everything from the trade deadline and the Cents leadership core to affiliate players and the future considerations owed to the team. The interview is here with a summary of the topics below.

Cents assistant coach and director of player personnel Bill Birks

Click here to download

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The Cents have named D Codie Kightley (88) as an alternate captain for the rest of the season. It's not expected that the Cents will assign the 'C' to another player since F Jordan Grant (90) was traded on Saturday to Powell River. I'm not sure if it's a rule that teams have a captain, but the next few days should clear that up. F Alex Goodship (89) also wore an 'A' for the Cents, but he was traded to Prince George. Kightley and F Paul Forster (88) should be the only two Cents players with letters on their sweaters when the team rolls into Westside against the Warriors.
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D Jimmy Geerin (89) has still not reported to the Cents and has been suspended by the team. He's still their property and may still play this season with Merritt if he decides to join the club.
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F Ryan Aynsley (90) wasn't able to be moved at the trade deadline and is still at home. The Cents won't release him and if he wants to play at all for the rest of the season with a junior B team or elsewhere, Aynsley will need the Cents permission. It's too bad that it hasn't worked out for him in Merritt as there were a few games earlier this season when he was dominant. Aynsley remains on the Cents roster.
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F Scott Kirkham (90) who's played eight games as an affiliate player has been returned to the Kamloops Storm of the KIJHL. Kirkham is pointless with the Cents this season, but is third on the Storm in scoring. He'll play two more games for sure to reach the AP maximum of ten and will likely be carded for next season.
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The four 88-born affiliate players listed on the Cents roster actually contacted the team themselves to ask if they could play some games at the junior A level. There are no KIJHL games on the schedule this Sunday because of their All Star break so I would expect all of Jose Reyes, David Gore, Mick Ludvig, and Spencer Brooks to play for the Centennials against Surrey. They're also not likely to be the only AP's the Cents have that day.
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Sunday's game against the Eagles is part of Minor Hockey Week here in Merritt and the arena will be crawling with minor hockey players who get into the game for free if they're wearing their own team sweaters. The intermissions will feature a mini-game and also the RBC Toonie Toss.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesday:

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BCHL Trades Since Dec. 26:

Jan. 10: Quesnel trades F Mitchell Smith, 20, to Calgary Canucks (AJHL) for future considerations.
Jan. 10: Prince George trades F Grant Toulmin, 19, to Surrey for F Andrew Pickering, 19.
Jan. 10: Merritt trades F Brooks Robinson, 19, to Grand Prairie (AJHL) for future considerations.
Jan. 10: Merritt trades F Jordan Grant, 18, to Powell River for F Brooks Robinson, 19, and future considerations.
Jan. 10: Merritt trades F Matt Betker, 19, to Nanaimo for future considerations.
Jan. 10: Merritt trades F Alex Goodship, 19, to Prince George for F Michael Nardi, 18, and future considerations.
Jan. 10: Merritt trades F Max Grassi, 20, to Penticton for future considerations.
Jan. 10: Merritt trades D Andrew Glasser, 18, to Burnaby for F Max Grassi, 20.
Jan. 10: Trail trades F Andrew Pickering, 19, to Surrey for F Brett Corcoran, 20.
Jan. 10: Merritt trades F Chad Gehon, 20, to Westside for F Matt Betker, 19, and future considerations.
Jan. 10: Merritt trades F Scott Jacklin, 18, to Trail for F Chad Gehon, 20, and future considerations.
Jan. 8: Burnaby trades F Brett Vandenberg, 19, to Salmon Arm for future considerations.
Jan. 7: Victoria trades F Brett Howe, 18, to Quesnel for future considerations.
Jan. 7: Westside trades F Brett Howe, 18, and future considerations to Victoria for F Cam Reid, 17.
Jan. 7: Vernon trades F John Digness, 18, and future considerations to Burnaby for D Cam Brodie, 20.
Jan. 7: Burnaby trades D Mike Leidl, 20, to Vernon for future considerations.
Jan. 7: Merritt trades F Alex Valenti, 19, and future considerations to North Bay (NOJHL) for D Andrew Glasser, 18, and future considerations.
Jan. 7: Merritt trades future considerations to Vernon for D Steve Tresierra, 18.
Jan. 6: Powell River trades future considerations to Newmarket (OJHL) for F Justin Hogan, 18.
Jan. 6: Alberni Valley trades future considerations to Fort William (SIJHL) for F Ethan Gardner, 19.
Jan. 5: Penticton trades future considerations to Canmore (AJHL) for D Kaare Odegard, 18.
Jan. 5: Merritt trades D Curtis Gedig, 17, to Cowichan Valley for D Jimmy Geerin, 19, and F Scott Jacklin, 18.
Jan. 1: Nanaimo trades F Stephen Simms, 20, to OCN (MJHL)for future considerations.
Jan. 1: Langley trades G Wyatt Waselenchuk, 19, to Nipawin (SJHL) for future considerations.
Dec. 31: Nanaimo trades G Mark Trousdell, 18, to LaRonge (SJHL) for G Jonathan Jobin, 20, and future considerations.
Dec. 30: Prince George trades G Joe Rodwell, 20, to Langley for future considerations.
Dec. 30: Salmon Arm trades D Jordan Berk, 20, to Fort McMurray for future considerations.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Late Saturday Update:

Well, it looks like the dust has settled on BCHL trade deadline day and the Centennials were involved in no fewer than eight deals that saw them add one new player to their roster, subtract two players, and add a boatload of future considerations.

As reported earlier on this blog, the first move to come down the pike was the Cents acquiring 20-year-old F Chad Gehon and future considerations from Trail for 18-year-old F Scott Jacklin. Gehon was then traded to Westside for 19-year-old F Matt Betker and future considerations. No sooner had I posted that the Centennials grabbed Betker when he was then traded to Nanaimo for future considerations. Of course, Gehon was Cents captain last season after Kevin Koopman was traded to the Smoke Eaters at the deadline.

In the meantime, the Cents picked up 20-year-old F Max Grassi from Burnaby for the rights to 18-year-old D Andrew Glasser. Grassi too just wound up being a pawn for Al Glendinning as he turned around and sent him to Penticton for future considerations. Ironically enough, it's the second time that Grassi has been Centennials property, but never donned a Merritt uniform. Remember the Cents acquired Grassi from Nanaimo back in July 2007 in exchange for F Warren Muir.

The Centennials weren't done yet, trading 19-year-old F Alex Goodship to Prince George for 18-year-old F Michael Nardi and future considerations. Nardi has 12 points on the season, five of which came in the Spruce Kings first two games of the year, against the Cents.

From there, in what some would consider the most shocking move, the Centennials traded captain and 18-year-old F Jordan Grant to Powell River for 19-year-old F Brooks Robinson and future considerations. They then turned around and flipped Robinson, who had left the Kings, to Grand Prairie of the AJHL for the most popular player, future considerations.

And with that, the deadline passed. Now there may still be some deals that trickle in once approved by the BCHL, but I would say the Centennials are done. It was a surprise to see Grant moved, but word is that he did ask to be traded. It's no surprise that Goodship was dealt because he does have that scholarship to Dartmouth and was a very valuable asset for the Centennials heading into the deadline. I thought that F Paul Forster would have likely been traded, but who knows what happens behind closed doors and maybe he wanted to stay in Merritt. It wouldn't be a shock to me if he is named the Cents new captain.

It also appears that D Jimmy Geerin has decided to join the Cents as a new sweater number is listed on their website for him. Nardi is also listed on their website as sporting number 16. He's the third player this season to wear it, as F Dylan Herold and F Alex Valenti did previously. F Ryan Aynsley, who has left the team and presumably asked for a trade, is still listed on the roster so it'll be interesting to see what happens with him prior to Friday's game against Westside.

As for the Centennials involvement in all the other moves, what it seems that Al has done is load up on future considerations in the form of cash or players to be named later, or both. I'm thinking that it's likely both. More to come if I find out that the Cents were involved in any more deals. I'll have more analysis in the morning!

Cents In The Middle:


As first reported on Shawn's Smoke Eaters blog, the Cents acquired the rights to F Chad Gehon and future considerations this afternoon from Trail for the rights to F Scott Jacklin, who hadn't reported to Merritt after being picked up from Cowichan Valley earlier this week. The Cents then flipped Gehon to Westside for F Matt Betker and future considerations. Betker looks to be a strong two way forward who has the ability to put points on the board. In fact, he averaged almost a point per game after joining the Warriors from the WHL's Portland Winterhawks last season. I would expect that Al Glendinning isn't done yet, and I would expect Friday's game against Westside to be a lot more interesting now that Betker will be playing his first game against his former team. I like the deal for the Cents as Jacklin wasn't going to report and there was no sense in adding a 20-year-old Gehon unless he was going to be a bargaining chip in another deal, and getting Betker from the Warriors for him proves that was the case.

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BCHL Trades Since Dec. 26:

Jan. 10: Merritt trades F Chad Gehon, 20, to Westside for F Matt Betker and future considerations.
Jan. 10: Merritt trades F Scott Jacklin, 18, to Trail for F Chad Gehon, 20, and future considerations.
Jan. 8: Burnaby trades F Brett Vandenberg, 19, to Salmon Arm for future considerations.
Jan. 7: Victoria trades F Brett Howe, 18, to Quesnel for future considerations.
Jan. 7: Westside trades F Brett Howe, 18, and future considerations to Victoria for F Cam Reid, 17.
Jan. 7: Vernon trades F John Digness, 18, and future considerations to Burnaby for D Cam Brodie, 20.
Jan. 7: Burnaby trades D Mike Leidl, 20, to Vernon for future considerations.
Jan. 7: Merritt trades F Alex Valenti, 19, and future considerations to North Bay (NOJHL) for D Andrew Glasser, 18, and future considerations.
Jan. 7: Merritt trades future considerations to Vernon for D Steve Tresierra, 18.
Jan. 6: Powell River trades future considerations to Newmarket (OJHL) for F Justin Hogan, 18.
Jan. 6: Alberni Valley trades future considerations to Fort William (SIJHL) for F Ethan Gardner, 19.
Jan. 5: Penticton trades future considerations to Canmore (AJHL) for D Kaare Odegard, 18.
Jan. 5: Merritt trades D Curtis Gedig, 17, to Cowichan Valley for D Jimmy Geerin, 19, and F Scott Jacklin, 18.
Jan. 1: Nanaimo trades F Stephen Simms, 20, to OCN (MJHL)for future considerations.
Jan. 1: Langley trades G Wyatt Waselenchuk, 19, to Nipawin (SJHL) for future considerations.
Dec. 31: Nanaimo trades G Mark Trousdell, 18, to LaRonge (SJHL) for G Jonathan Jobin, 20, and future considerations.
Dec. 30: Prince George trades G Joe Rodwell, 20, to Langley for future considerations.
Dec. 30: Salmon Arm trades D Jordan Berk, 20, to Fort McMurray for future considerations.

Early Saturday Notes:

The Centennials have added two more affiliate players to their roster. 16-year-old Evan Burgess and 17-year-old Zach Traverse are with the Fernie Ghostriders this season and although they haven't put up a lot of points, both are young and look to be decent shut down defencemen. It remains to be seen as to whether they wear a Cents sweater in any of the final 17 games.
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D Cam Brodie and D Mike Leidl didn't play for Vernon in last night's 4-2 win over the Cents. It seems that with the Coquihalla down to one lane in both directions north of Hope, the Vipers two prized acquisitions didn't arrive at the Wesbild Centre until 5:30 pm. Both will get into the lineup tonight against Penticton.
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The future considerations that Merritt sent to Vernon to acquire D Steve Tresierra are a player to be named later. So either it'll be a current player off the Cents roster (that isn't named Goodship, Forster, or Kightley because they're all gone at the end of the season regardless) or it's a player that the Cents are still yet to acquire. That player will actually be headed to Burnaby because the Vipers sent him as the futures to acquire either Brodie or Leidl.
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Both F Scott Jacklin and D Jimmy Geerin have decided not to report to Merritt after being acquired earlier this week from Cowichan Valley for D Curtis Gedig. Al Glendinning has until tonight's trade deadline to either sign them to a player card or trade them somewhere else. If he doesn't, he risks losing both of them to teams that have a card open.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Tresierra Set To Make His Cents Debut:

Steve Tresierra will play tonight as the Centennials face the Vipers in Vernon. I would imagine it'll be pretty weird for Tresierra to cross the hall and play against the guys who were his teammates just yesterday.

Watch for some of the Cents to take a couple of extra shots at new Viper Cam Brodie too, as of course the 20-year-old was a Centennial earlier this season prior to being traded to Burnaby. We could tout the game as a battle between Brodie and Jordan Soquila as both were traded for each other in October. The other players in that deal, Alex Valenti, and Dylan Herold aren't involved in tonight's game. Valenti was traded to North Bay while Herold is still with the Express.

The Centennials have added four 20-year-old affiliate players to their roster although it's unknown if they'll play tonight as their KIJHL teams are also in action. Jose Reyes, David Gore, and Mick Ludvig are with the Kamloops Storm while Spencer Brooks is playing with the Princeton Posse. Brooks played with Quesnel as an AP for four games last season. Kamloops This Week is reporting that Scott Kirkham, who has already played seven games as an AP with the Cents this season, has joined them this weekend.

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BCHL Trades Since Dec. 26:

Jan. 7 Victoria trades Brett Howe, 18, to Quesnel for future considerations.
Jan. 7: Westside trades Brett Howe, 18, and future considerations to Victoria for F Cam Reid, 17.
Jan. 7: Vernon trades F John Digness, 18, and future considerations to Burnaby for D Cam Brodie, 20.
Jan. 7: Burnaby trades D Mike Leidl, 20, to Vernon for future considerations.
Jan. 7: Merritt trades F Alex Valenti, 19, and future considerations to North Bay (NOJHL) for D Andrew Glasser, 18, and future considerations.
Jan. 7: Merritt trades future considerations to Vernon for D Steve Tresierra, 18.
Jan. 6: Powell River trades future considerations to Newmarket (OJHL) for F Justin Hogan, 18.
Jan. 6: Alberni Valley trades future considerations to Fort William (SIJHL) for F Ethan Gardner, 19.
Jan. 5: Penticton trades future considerations to Canmore (AJHL) for D Kaare Odegard, 18.
Jan. 5: Merritt trades D Curtis Gedig, 17, to Cowichan Valley for D Jimmy Geerin, 19, and F Scott Jacklin, 18.
Jan. 1: Nanaimo trades F Stephen Simms, 20, to OCN (MJHL)for future considerations.
Jan. 1: Langley trades G Wyatt Waselenchuk, 19, to Nipawin (SJHL) for future considerations.
Dec. 31: Nanaimo trades G Mark Trousdell, 18, to LaRonge (SJHL) for G Jonathan Jobin, 20, and future considerations.
Dec. 30: Prince George trades G Joe Rodwell, 20, to Langley for future considerations.
Dec. 30: Salmon Arm trades D Jordan Berk, 20, to Fort McMurray for future considerations.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Cents Swing Two Trades:


It hasn't been announced officially yet (on the BCHL website), but the Cents have traded 19-year-old forward Alex Valenti to the North Bay Skyhawks of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League for future considerations. I don't think a player from North Bay will be coming Merritt's way, so I'll speculate that the futures are in the form of cash to the financially challenged Centennials. Valenti's offence will be missed as the St. Louis product had just started to get hot with the Cents, notching nine points in his last ten games.

EDIT: It has officially been confirmed that Valenti and futures are off to North Bay, but the Centennials did acquire a player in the deal. 18-year-old defenceman Andrew Glasser. No word on when Glasser will make his Centennials debut, but he looks like another strong offensive defenceman. He's no slouch in the size department either at 6-foot and 195 lbs.

On another note, the Vernon Vipers website is reporting that the Centennials have acquired 18-year-old defenceman Steve Tresierra as part of a three way trade that sees former Cents captain Cam Brodie and Mike Leidl join the Vipers while John Digness is on his way to Burnaby. I'm not sure exactly how Merritt figures into the deal, but my guess would be that future considerations are headed to Vernon.

This is a huge pick up for the Vipers as adding Leidl and Brodie to a defence core that already includes Kyle Bigos, Adam Thompson, and Kevin Kraus makes them that much more difficult to play against and even more of a threat in the Interior Conference.

I like the acquisition of Tresierra for the Cents. If he plays, he adds a quick skating and potential power play threat to the blueline as four of his five goals have been scored with the man advantage. Tresierra isn't lacking in the leadership department either, as he was named an alternate captain for the Vipers earlier this season in just his second year. If Tresierra chooses not to report to Merritt, then Al Glendinning has another trading chip leading up to Saturday's deadline.

EDIT: According to this morning's Vernon Morning Star, Tresierra is excited about coming to Merritt. Here's from the article itself:

Rather than sulk about being shipped to a last-place team, Tresierra is taking the trade in stride. “It’s going to be a new experience,” said the second-year blueliner. “Merritt’s pretty excited to have me, and I’ll likely have a larger role. I’m just going to go in with a positive mindset and try to help the team out.”

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

January 10th Trade Deadline:

The Hockey Canada January 10th Trade Deadline is coming up on Saturday. I asked BCHL Commissioner John Grisdale how exactly the deadline works. An edited version of the interview can be heard during this Friday's Cents-Vipers broadcast on Radio NL 1230 AM and the BCHL Fanzone, but here's the interview in its entirety:

BCHL Commissioner John Grisdale

Click here to download

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BCHL Trades Since Dec. 26:

Jan. 6: Powell River trades future considerations to Newmarket (OJHL) for F Justin Hogan, 18.
Jan. 6: Alberni Valley trades future considerations to Fort William (SIJHL) for F Ethan Gardner, 19.
Jan. 5: Penticton trades future considerations to Canmore (AJHL) for D Kaare Odegard, 18.
Jan. 5: Merritt trades D Curtis Gedig, 17, to Cowichan Valley for D Jimmy Geerin, 19, and F Scott Jacklin, 18.
Jan. 1: Nanaimo trades F Stephen Simms, 20, to OCN (MJHL)for future considerations.
Jan. 1: Langley trades G Wyatt Waselenchuk, 19, to Nipawin (SJHL) for future considerations.
Dec. 31: Nanaimo trades G Mark Trousdell, 18, to LaRonge (SJHL) for G Jonathan Jobin, 20, and future considerations.
Dec. 30: Prince George trades G Joe Rodwell, 20, to Langley for future considerations.
Dec. 30: Salmon Arm trades D Jordan Berks, 20, to Fort McMurray for future considerations.

Cents Add Two New Players:



The Merritt Centennials have made their first trade of 2009, four days before the January 10th trade deadline.

The Cents acquired 18-year-old forward Scott Jacklin and 19-year-old defenceman Jimmy Geerin from Cowichan Valley in exchange for 17-year-old defenceman Curtis Gedig.

Jacklin and Geerin have 17 and 16 points respectively on the season and Geerin becomes the Cents top scoring defenceman, with four more points than Brad Bourke.

Gedig is a good kid and a very solid defenceman. He battled an ankle injury earlier this season, but definitely has the ability to put points up on the board. He's a strong enough skater that he responsible defensively as well. There's a reason why he was so heavily scouted by WHL teams during the summer. I certainly wish Digger all the best in Duncan.

As for Geerin, I can only remember him briefly from his days with Trail and Penticton last season and he seemed to be a solid two-way D-man that was a thorn in the side of the Centennials. He was part of the trade in December 2007 that saw Nathan Westover go from the Smoke Eaters to the Vees. I don't know much about Jacklin, but looking at his stats, it appears that he's a small, skilled forward that has the potential to put points on the board. This season he's been more of a set-up man with four goals and thirteen assists, but his thirteen goals as a rookie last season show that there's some sniper ability. The Kimberley product had 67 points in 52 games with the KIJHL's Columbia Valley Rockies during the 2006-07 season.

Unless either is part of another trade, I would expect both to make their Centennials debut Friday in Vernon.

The Cents are currently at 22 players on their roster, but I'm not aware of how many player cards they have left, meaning that there could still be more trades to come.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Stop The Roller Coaster:

I'm not going to go into much detail about the Cents weekend that saw them skate away with a 1-1-0-1 record as I wasn't at the games, I can just go off what I heard on the broadcast and what I've heard from people who were there. What the record in the three games doesn't show is how the Centennials lost on Sunday and how it could have just as easily been a 3-0 record. Friday's 3-2 win in overtime was huge for the Cents as they notched their second straight victory. Then on Saturday against a resilient Millionaires squad that battled back twice from one goal deficits, it was a heart breaker to lose on a goal scored with just 44 seconds left in the game. And Sunday was really a tale of two games. The Cents outplayed the Smoke Eaters through 40 minutes, despite the fact that Trail held a 4-1 lead. Alex Goodship was completely snake bitten as he hit a post and had at least three good scoring opportunities. The wheels came off the Centennials wagon in the third period as they were outscored 5-0 and actually gave up seven unanswered goals after Kevin Philp scored with just over five minutes left in the first. Final score: Trail 9, Merritt 1. The end result is a weekend that could have been much better and in fact, probably should have been much better for the Cents.

Now the question is how different the Centennials roster will look once Friday's game in Vernon rolls around. As the poll I posted today indicates, the Cents have a number of trading chips that other teams are likely to be interested in. It remains to be seen as to whether or not Al Glendinning will hang onto the assets that he's got, or if the Cents go into a liquidate mode like last season that saw no fewer than six transactions made on either deadline day or the day before. Alexander MacMillan hasn't played with the Cents since before the Christmas break and I'm investigating whether or not the Calgary product is injured or if he's asked to be moved. Ryan Aynsley only played one game on the weekend, and he's another player that could be deemed attractive leading up to the January 10th deadline. As for the deadline itself, I talked to BCHL Commissioner John Grisdale today for my Brian's Banter feature and will post the interview later this week. In it, Grisdale attempts to eliminate some of the confusion that surrounds the trade deadline. Look out, it's likely to be a busy week on the transaction wire!

Former Centennial Leitch Named ECAC Player of the Week:


Former Cents forward Bryan Leitch was named ECAC Player of the Week today. Here's the release from the Quinnipiac Bobcats: Bryan Leitch Named ECAC Hockey Player Of The Week

Leitch was a big time sniper at the BCHL level and it's good to see his success is continuing to follow him in his college career. I don't know if I've ever seen a player that flat out has so much fun in scoring goals.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Another Netminder Against PG

The Cents will have another goaltender in uniform tonight as Jacob Mattes will back up Harrison May against the Prince George Spruce Kings. Kyle Nielsen is still suspended for his role in the line brawl against Westside last month, got handed four games and will be eligible to return on Sunday against Trail. Boomer Sheena, who backed up May prior to the Christmas break is with his Tracker Sportswear Midget team at a tournament in Victoria and isn't available. Kyle Graham, who's also listed as an AP with the Cents, is with the Kamloops Storm in Grand Forks tonight. As a result Mattes, who is just 15 years old, will make his junior 'A' debut. Things would be very interesting if anything were to happen to May and Mattes was forced to go in. Regardless, the Cents are coming that huge win over Quesnel just about two weeks ago and look to continue it tonight against PG. The forward ranks should get a big boost with the return of Dustin Johnson. He has been battling a separated shoulder and was a game time decision versus the Mills. His addition should bring more offensive support to Grant, Goodship, and Valenti. Enjoy the game!