Saturday, August 29, 2009

Update/Correction on Cents Roster:

I don't know if it's because I'm so focused on getting Q101 up and running for Monday, but when I posted earlier this morning that Payton Schaefer had been released after last night's Cents intrasquad game, it was incorrect. It's been brought to my attention that Payton is in fact still with the Cents heading into Monday night's exhibition game against Penticton.

I apologize if the mistake caused any problems to anyone and thanks for your understanding. I've also now corrected my earlier post so it's accurate.

Cents Black-White Intrasquad Game:

Was at last night's Cents Black-White Intrasquad game before close to 200 fans at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena. Team White beat Team Black 8-3.

Scoring Summary:

First Period

1. Black, Alex Valenti (unassisted) 4:11

2. White, Colton Sobchak (Thomas Hardy, Shawn Maktaak) 19:34

Second Period

3. White, Derek Hills (Sobchak) :50

4. White, Sobchak (Brent Baltus, Zach MacLellan) 3:22

5. Black, Matt Luongo (Dustin Johnson, Jordan Hirano) 4:26

6. White, Jeremy Long (Maktaak, Hills) 4:45

7. White, Sobchak (Kameran Crawford) 5:54

8. White, Sylvan Harper (Sean Pesut, Maktaak) 8:20

9. Black, Valenti (Alessio Tomasetti, Jeff Zmurchyk) 9:15

10. White, Crawford (unassisted) 19:41

Third Period

11. White, Mike Nardi (Patrick Martens, Crawford) 10:12

Here are the team rosters:

Team Black

Co-coaches: Bill Pierce, Cliff Nokleby

Dustin Johnson
Gary Rai
Alex Valenti
Alessio Tomassetti
Ryan Aynsley
Matt Luongo
Jordan Hirano
Jake Newman
Ben Greenaway
Daylan Robertson
Briar McNaney
Bruce Swakum

Steve Tresierra
Jeff Zmurchyk
Jake Baker
Ryan Skinner
Ryan Murray

Kyle Nielsen
Norbert Biszczak

Team White

Co-coaches: Shane Sanderson, Pat McCormack

Jordan Soquila
Thomas Hardy
Mike Nardi
Colton Sobchak
Sean Pesut
Jeremy Long
Sylvan Harper
Patrick Martens
Payton Schaefer
Brent Baltus
Shawn Maktaak

Ryne Bodger
Derek Hills
Matt Mazzarolo
Zach MacLellan
Chase McLeod
Kameran Crawford

Spencer Bacon
Michael Tomescu

Scratched players: Kevin Philp, Daniel Chang, Stephen Wall, Brad Bourke

The game featured four fights as Dustin Johnson dropped the mitts twice, with Kameran Crawford and also with Matt Mazzarolo. Alessio Tomassetti took on Shawn Maktaak and Ryan Aynsley tussled with Derek Hills.

Kyle Nielsen started in goal for Team White and allowed a total of six goals, but I found out after the game that he's battling an injury right now. Norbert Biszczak looked strong in goal after taking over from Nielsen midway through the second period, giving up just two goals. Spencer Bacon got the start for Team Black and gave up all three goals his team allowed. Michael Tomescu came in at the game's midpoint and didn't allow a goal through the second half.

There was a scary incident in the second period when Derek Hills hit Ben Greenaway dangerously into the boards. Greenaway lay on the ice for quite some time, before getting up and skating off under his own power, but he was clutching his shoulder and wrist as he went off. I later learned that he has suffered what is thought to be a dislocated shoulder.

After the game, eight more players were reassigned to other teams: Ben Greenaway, Daylan Robertson, Briar McNaney, Ryan Murray, Sean Pesut, Jeremy Long, Patrick Martens and Chase McLeod. The cuts leave the Cents with a total of 34 players still in camp, including the four that didn't play last night. Bruce Swakum and Payton Schaefer are the two local Merritt players still with the team. Although I know the coaches were very impressed with Daylan Robertson but at 14, he's too young to play in the BCHL right now. I think it's safe to say that he'll be on the Cents radar for the next couple seasons.

Here's who's still with the team heading into the exhibition season:


Matt Luongo (91) - Grandview (PIJHL)
Jake Newman (92) -
Sylvan Harper (92) - Vancouver NE (MML)
Colton Sobchak (90) - Cents
Kevin Philp (90) - Cents
Stephen Wall (91) - Spruce Grove (AJHL)
Dustin Johnson (90) - Cents
Thomas Hardy (91) - Burnaby (BCHL)
Bruce Swakum (91) - Merritt Midgets
Brent Baltus (92) - North Island (MML)
Shawn Maktaak (92) - Creston Valley (KIJHL)
Daniel Chang (91) - Valencia (WSHL)
Alessio Tomassetti (89) - Cents
Michael Nardi (90) - Cents
Jordan Hirano (92) - Fernie (KIJHL)
Alex Valenti (89) - Cents/North Bay (OJHL)
Gary Rai (90) - Cents
Ryan Aynsley (90) - Cents
Payton Schaefer (93) - Thompson Blazers
Jordan Soquila (89) - Cents


Steve Tresierra (90) - Cents
Matt Mazzarolo (90) - Cents
Zach MacLellan (92) - Columbia Valley (KIJHL)
Brad Bourke (89) - Cents
Derek Hills (90) - Powell River (BCHL)
Jake Baker (91) - Cents
Kameran Crawford (91) - Grand Forks (KIJHL)
Ryan Skinner (92) - Thompson Blazers
Ryne Bodger (90) - Powell River (BCHL)
Jeff Zmurchyk (90) - Trail (BCHL)


Michael Tomescu (91) - Abbotsford (PIJHL)
Kyle Nielsen (90) - Cents
Norbert Biszczak (90) - North Delta (PIJHL)
Spencer Bacon (92) - Bradford (GMHL)

I'll an interview I did with Cents head coach Dylan Forsythe posted later today.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cents Training Camp - Day One:

Today was the first day of main camp for the Merritt Centennials. I'm sorry I didn't get to post this sooner, but with Q101 going on the air on Monday, things have been crazy busy around the radio station this week.

34 players, plus veterans, made the cut following rookie camp yesterday. The players have been separated into three different teams for scrimmages that were scheduled for today and are scheduled for tomorrow.

Here's the teams and who they played for last season...

Team White

Matt Luongo (91) - Grandview (PIJHL)

Jake Newman (92) -
Sylvan Harper (92) - Vancouver NE (MML)
Patrick Martens (92) - Ridge Meadows Midget AAA
Payton Schaefer (93) - Thompson Blazers
Jeremy Long (89) - Chase - two seasons ago (KIJHL)
Jesse Kightley (91) - Merritt Minor Hockey
David White (90) - Beverly (CJHL)
Dustin Johnson (90) - Cents
Thomas Hardy (91) - Burnaby (BCHL)
Ryan Murray (93) - Kamloops Midget AAA
Chase McLeod (93) - Thompson Blazers
Steve Tresierra (90) - Cents
Matt Mazzarolo (90) - Cents
James Leonard (93) - Kamloops U16
Braeden Johnson (91) - Campbell River (VIJHL)

Team Black

Bruce Swakum (91) - Merritt Midgets
Quinn Rempel (92) - Salmon Arm Midget AA
Brent Baltus (92) - North Island (MML)
Shawn Maktaak (92) - Creston Valley (KIJHL)
Ben Greenaway (93) - POE
Daniel Chang (91) - Valencia (WSHL)
Daylan Robertson (94) - Merritt Bantams
Rick Battenberg (90) - Squamish (PIJHL)
Alessio Tomasetti (90) - Cents
Michael Nardi (90) - Cents
Kameran Crawford (91) - Grand Forks (KIJHL)
Ryan Skinner (92) - Thompson Blazers
Ryne Bodger (90) - Powell River (BCHL)
Jeff Zmurchyk (90) - Trail (BCHL)
Norbert Biszczak (90) - North Delta (PIJHL)
Cam Dagg (92) - Kamloops Midget AAA
Cody Tent (93) - Williams Lake Midget

Team Red

Duncan Schulz (91) - Kamloops Midget AAA
Sean Pesut (92) - Vancouver NE (MML)
Geoff Doka (92) - Fernie (KIJHL)
Riley Hellekson (92) - Edson Midget AAA
Jordan Hirano (92) - Fernie (KIJHL)
Briar McNaney (93) - Thompson Blazers
Brendan Colter (93) - Merritt Midget AA
Luke Richardson (91) - Sicamous (KIJHL)
Alex Valenti (89) - Cents/North Bay (OJHL)
Gary Rai (90) - Cents
Evan Burgess (92) - Fernie (KIJHL)
Zach MacLellan (92) - Columbia Valley (KIJHL)
Brad Bourke (89) - Cents
Derek Hills (90) - Powell River (BCHL)
Jake Baker (91) - Cents
Michael Tomescu (91) - Abbotsford (PIJHL)
Kyle Nielsen (90) - Cents

Here's Cents GM/Assistant Coach Tyler Forsythe on cut-down day.

Cents GM/Assistant Coach Tyler Forsythe

Click here to download

All audio property of Q101 (Merritt Broadcasting Ltd.)

With today's schedule done, here's what tomorrow's looks like:

Friday, August 28

8:30 AM - 9:30 AM Black vs. Red
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM Red vs. White
11:30 AM - 12:30 PM White vs. Black
1:15 PM - 1:30 PM Player Release/Evaluation
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM Red-Black Prospects Game
9:30 PM - 9:45 PM - Player Release/Evaluation

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Prospects Training Camp - Day Two:

I was only able to catch the last half of the last scrimmage of the day yesterday at Centennials Prospects Camp, but I did have a chance to talk with head coach and assistant GM Dylan Forsythe after the session.

Cents Head Coach & Assistant GM Dylan Forsythe

Click here to download

All audio property of Q101 (Merritt Broadcasting Ltd.)

Here's today's schedule:

8:00 am - 9:00 am: Grey vs. White
9:15 am - 9:30 am: Player Release/Evaluation
9:45 am - 10:45 am: Gold vs. Black
11:00 am - 11:15 am: Player Release/Evaluation
11:30 am - 12:30 pm: Blue vs. White
12:45 pm - 1:00 pm: Player Release/Evaluation

Monday, August 24, 2009

Prospects Training Camp - Day One:

Because of work and focus on getting Q101 on the air next week, I wasn't able to catch all of the games for the opening of Cents prospects camp today but did have a chance to catch a couple.

A handful of veteran players were taking part in the games today, but mainly played defence as there aren't too many blue liners trying to crack the roster. And who can blame them with seven defencemen with BCHL experience here.

Here are the team rosters: (keep in mind that some players aren't listed here because they were late registrations)

Team Grey

Jeremy Long (89) - Chase - two seasons ago (KIJHL)
Dustin Urdea (90) - Squamish (PIJHL)
Matt Keller (90) - Mission (PIJHL)
Jordan Swetlikoff (91) - Castlegar (KIJHL)
Luke Richardson (91) - Sicamous (KIJHL)
Matthew Pouncy (92) - Kamloops (KIJHL)
Riley Hellekson (92) - Edson Midget AAA
Daylan Robertson (94) - Merritt Bantams
Matt Geurts (90) - Creston Valley (KIJHL)
Zach MacLellan (92) - Columbia Valley (KIJHL)
Garrett Laidler (91) - Red Deer Midget AAA
Michael Tomescu (91) - Abbotsford (PIJHL)

Team White

Rick Battenberg (90) - Squamish (PIJHL)
David White (90) - Beverly (CJHL)
Keagan Hunter (91) - Mission (PIJHL)
Bruce Swakum (91) - Merritt Midgets
Rylan Willoughby (91) - Kamloops Midget Tier I
Brent Baltus (92) - North Island (MML)
Sylvan Harper (92) - Vancouver NE (MML)
Payton Schaefer (93) - Thompson Blazers
Kameran Crawford (91) - Grand Forks (KIJHL)
Ryan Murray (93) - Kamloops Midget AAA
Braeden Johnson (91) - Campbell River (VIJHL)
Cam Dagg (92) - Kamloops Midget AAA

Team Gold

Jordan Wood (90) - Chase (KIJHL)
David Igarashi (90) - Elliot Lake (GMHL)
Daniel Cletheroe (90) - Beaverlodge (NWJHL)
Tim Wender (91) - South Muskoka (OJHL)
Matt Luongo (91) - Grandview (PIJHL)
Brendan Colter (93) - Merritt Midget AA
Jordan Hirano (92) - Fernie (KIJHL)
Ryan Clark (93) - Kamloops Midget AAA
Zach Traverse (91) - Fernie (KIJHL)
Chase McLeod (93) - Thompson Blazers
Norbert Biszczak (90) - North Delta (PIJHL)
James Leonard (93) - Kamloops U16

Team Black

Sean Menton (89) - Kamloops (KIJHL)
Joel Hamilton (90) - Abbotsford (PIJHL)
Robert Anderson (90) - Merritt Midget
Duncan Shulz (91) - Kamloops Midget AAA
Jesse Kightley (91) - Merritt Minor Hockey
Chase Edwards (91) - Thompson Blazers
Shawn Maktaak (92) - Creston Valley (KIJHL)
Patrick Martens (92) - Ridge Meadows Midget AAA
Ben Greenaway (93) - POE
Ryan Skinner (92) - Thompson Blazers
Lucas Wegner (93) - Semiahmoo Midgets
Zachary Blaine (90) - Fort St. John (NWJHL)
Boomer Sheena (91) - Merritt Midgets
Mitchell Sheridan (92) - Lillooet Midgets

Team Blue

Luke Hayes (89) - South Jersey (IJHL)
Zach Haight (90) - Coeur d'Alene (NPHL)
Matt Pesut (90) - Ridge Meadows (PIJHL)
Tommy Rogic (91) - Valley West (MML)
Nicholas Yee (91) - Penticton Midget AAA
Quinn Rempel (92) - Salmon Arm Midget AA
Sean Pesut (92) - Vancouver NE (MML)
Briar McNaney (93) - Thompson Blazers
Garrett Walter (90) - Merritt Midget AA
Evan Burgess (92) - Fernie (KIJHL)
Kyle Graham (91) - Kamloops (KIJHL)
Riley Carriere (91) - Aldergrove (PIJHL)
Cody Tent (93) - Williams Lake Midget

Here's today's schedule:

8:00 AM - 9:00 AM White vs. Black
9:30 AM - 10:30 AM Blue vs. Grey
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM Gold vs. White
2:30 PM - 3:30 PM Grey vs. Black
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM Gold vs. Blue

I also had the chance to speak with Cents assistant coach Luke Pierce after yesterday's sessions.

Cents Assistant Coach Luke Pierce

Click here to download

All audio property of Q101 (Merritt Broadcasting Ltd.)

Cents Training Camp - Veterans:

The Cents had their eligible returning veterans in town Friday night for the start of training camp.

All of the vets were there, except for Tyler Pistone and J.J. Waldrop (who are both playing junior A in the US) and Tyler Miller (who's trying out for the WHL).

The players had a run on both Saturday and Sunday mornings before two-a-day practices.

I had the chance to talk with Centennials GM and Assistant Coach Tyler Forsythe this morning, ahead of today's first on-ice sessions.

Cents GM and Assistant Coach Tyler Forsythe

Click here to download

All audio property of Q101 (Merritt Broadcasting Ltd.)

Friday, August 21, 2009

2009-10 Cents Training Camp Schedule:

The Cents have posted their training camp schedule on their website:

The Merritt Centennials are pleased to announce their 2009-10 Training Camp schedule. (Subject to change without notice)

Saturday, August 22

9:00 AM to 9:30 AM Community Run Location: 5k

Sunday, August 23

8:00 AM to 8:30 AM Community Run Location: 3k
7:00 PM to 8:00 PM Prospect Registration

Monday, August 24

8:00 AM to 9:00 AM Black vs. Gold
9:30 AM to 10:30 AM Red vs. White
11:00 AM to 12:00 PM Grey vs. Blue
2:30 PM to 3:30 PM Gold vs. White
4:00 PM to 5:00 PM Black vs. Grey
5:30 PM to 6:30 PM Blue vs. Red

Tuesday, August 25

8:00 AM to 9:00 AM Blue vs. White
9:30 AM to 10:30 AM Gold vs. Grey
11:00 AM to 12:00 PM Red vs. Black
2:30 PM to 3:30 PM Blue vs. Gold
4:00 PM to 5:00 PM White vs. Black
5:30 PM to 6:30 PM Grey vs. Red

Wednesday, August 26

8:00 AM to 9:00 AM Gold vs. Red
9:45 AM to 10:45 AM Blue vs. Black
11:30 AM to 12:30 PM White vs. Grey

Thursday, August 27

8:30 AM to 9:30 AM Blue vs. Grey
10:00 AM to 11:00 AM Gold vs. Blue
11:30 AM to 12:30 PM Grey vs. Gold

Friday, August 28

8:30 AM to 9:30 AM Grey vs. Gold
10:00 AM to 11:00 AM Blue vs. Grey
11:30 AM to 12:30 PM Gold vs. Blue
7:00 PM to 9:00 PM Red / Black Prospects Game

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Merritt Herald Coverage of the Cents:

(Photo courtesy of Merritt Herald)

The Merritt Herald ramped up its' coverage of the Centennials this week with three articles:

Cents’ camp opens next week

By Chris Koehn - Merritt Herald and Ian Webster - Merritt Herald

Hold on to your hats, folks! It’s hockey time again!

The Merritt Centennials 2009/10 training camp begins this coming Monday, officially kicking off the Cents’ 37th consecutive season in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL).

A lot has happened in the five and half months since the 2008/09 version of the Centennials hockey team limped out of the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena in late February, victims of a disastrous season both on and off the ice (see sidebar).

Gone is the entire Centennials’ coaching staff - head coach and general manager Al Glendinning, along with assistants Bill Birks, Wayne Wittal and Gilles Leberre. The board of directors has seen a huge facelift, as has the community-based non-profit society that bankrolls the day-to-day operations of the small-market, longest continuously-running BCHL franchise.

The new Cents’ coaching staff is headed up by Dylan Forsythe, who comes to Merritt from the Alberta Junior Hockey League, where he was assistant coach for Sherwood Park. Dylan has experience in tournament play as coach of the Central Thrashers during this spring’s Alberta Cup Tourney.

Dylan’s coaching assistant this coming season will be his brother, Tyler Forsythe. Tyler will also fill the position of general manager. Tyler accepted a job with the Thompson Major Midget Blazers earlier this spring as assistant coach, but stepped down upon being offered the Merritt assistant coaching position.

Rounding out the bench personnel for the Cents will be athletic therapist/equipment manager Jason Kitzan. He spent last season as the athletic trainer for the Brooks Bandits of the AJHL, as well as the Calgary Vipers of the Golden Baseball League.

This season’s Cents’ training camp should be a spirited one with close to 100 players expected to take part over the course of the week. Rookies will take to the ice first for a series of one-hour scrimmages on Monday and Tuesday, with the top 40--45 being invited to participate in a final rookies-only game Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. Further cuts will take place following that game.

Twenty or so lucky ‘newbies’ will carry on, and be joined by the 21 veterans (players with Junior A experience) for further scrimmages commencing Wednesday evening and continuing Thursday and Friday. Training camp will officially wrap up Friday evening with the annual Black-Red intersquad game at 7:30 p.m.

On the ice, Centennials’ fans can expect to see a number of new and familiar faces over the five days of training camp. In total, 16 players with ties to last year’s Cents’ squad will be on hand to try and impress the Forsythe brothers.

Between the pipes, Kyle Nielsen will be the only returning netminder, however he will be pushed for the starter’s role by close to a dozen highly-regarded young prospects that have been invited to this year’s camp.

The possible blueline brigade for the Cents this year looks very impressive on paper, and should go a long way towards reducing the woeful goals and shots against averages that characterized last season’s Merritt team. Steve Tresierra, Brad Bourke, Jake Baker and Matt Mazzarola are all returning defensemen who should be a year older, a year wiser and a year stronger. They will be joined at training camp by Ryne Bodger and Derek Hills, a pair of experienced D-men acquired from the Powell River Paper Kings, as well as Jeff Zmurchyk from the Trail Smoke Eaters.

Up front, expect to see several old faces from the 2008/09 Cents’ team at this year’s training camp, but also expect to see a bucket load of fresh talent too, vying for six to seven probable openings in the forward ranks.

Returning is last year’s second-leading team scorer Dustin Johnson, along with Michael Nardi, Colton Sobchak, Gary Rai, Alessio Tomassetti, Ryan Aynsley, Alex Valenti, Jordan Soquila, Kevin Philp and Alexander MacMillan.

Confirmed newcomers, the result of trades last year or in the off-season, include Thomas Hardy from the Burnaby Express and Stephen Walls from the St. Albert Steel of the AJHL.

The Cents will play their first of five exhibition games at 7 p.m. on Aug. 31, at home versus the Penticton Vees. The only other home preseason game will be on Sept. 4 against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, starting at 7:30 p.m. Admission for each of the exhibition games will be $5 per person.

In other news, defenseman Casey Fratkin was traded to the Nanaimo Clippers for future considerations last week. Fratkin originally began life as a Cent as a fourth line energy player, but former coach Al Glendinning decided to move him to the blue line where he played his best hockey. Fratkin debuted with the Cents at the start of the 2006/07 season, playing 45 games and posting five goals and five assists. Fratkin returned to the Cents last season after a brief stint with Vernon, North Bay and Chase.


By Ian Webster - Merritt Herald

Little wonder that heads rolled, and the house was cleaned after the debacle that was the Merritt Centennials 2008/09 hockey season. It was in no uncertain terms a year that anyone who cared would just as soon forget.

The Cents produced their third worst record in team history, 13-38-1-8 (good for just 35 points), and finished dead last in the BCHL – for the second year in a row. The win, loss and points columns convey only a small part of last season’s horrid story however. The true extent of the nightmare can be found in some other telling statistics.

The Centennials were outshot by their opponents in 51 of 60 games, by a whopping margin of 2365-1764 (39.4 to 29.4 per game).

The beleaguered netminding trio of Graeme Gordon, Kyle Nielson and Harrison May faced 40 or more shots a mind-numbing 30 times, while the Cents themselves mustered that much firepower against their opponents on only six occasions.

Opposition snipers feasted on the Cents from September through February. Merritt allowed a total of 305 goals against in 60 games (41 more than any other BCHL team), for an average of 5.10 per contest. Meanwhile, goal-starved Centennials’ players found the back of the net just 156 times all year for a meager 2.60 goals for per game average, again the lowest in the league.

With just 13 wins to their credit all last season, little wonder the team endured some crushing losing streaks, including a 16-game winless stretch from Nov. 1 right through until Dec. 21.

Inevitably and somewhat understandably, the year-long misery-on-ice last season lead to a revolving door in terms of the Centennials’ line-up. No fewer than 47 different players donned the Cents’ jersey for one or more games as head coach and general manager Al Glendinning sent perceived underachievers packing, airlifted in would-be saviours, and watched as more than a few discouraged or disgruntled players demanded a trade or just up and left the team.

Off the ice, the tales of woe were every bit as bad – and sad. Average attendance at Centennials’ games last season hit an all-time low of just 450 paying customers, 190 less than the year before, and 173 fewer than the next lowest BCHL franchise, the Quesnel Millionaires.

The dismal attendance figures were just one part of a bleak financial picture that saw the longest continuously running franchise in the BCHL hanging by a thread – horribly in debt, sinking fast, with no lifeline anywhere to be found.

Cents crew shifts again

By Chris Koehn - Merritt Herald

The Merritt Centennials have a new general manager and coaching staff this week, leaving hockey fans with a lot of unanswered questions and concerns over the fate of the season.

Former coach and general manager Joey Bouchard resigned over the weekend, citing irreconcilable differences with the board of directors. Bouchard was unavailable for comment.

The move came only weeks after Bouchard’s former boss and Whitecourt Wolverines owner Brent Stark rescinded his bid to purchase the cash-strapped team.

The Centennials board of directors say there was no reason given yet for the breakdown, but Stark’s associate, Marc Chayer, said on Tuesday that they plan to shed some light on the situation later this week.

Siblings Dylan and Tyler Forsythe took the Cents’ helm yesterday. While Dylan will fill the role as head coach, Tyler is settling in as general manager and assistant coach.

As of Tuesday, Dylan was not able to provide in-depth commentary on the situation, but did say that training camp and the season will move ahead as scheduled.

Board Governor Brian Barrett was able to confirm that the season was not in jeopardy, but stressed that the team still needs the support from the community in terms of ticket sales.

“We’ve contacted almost all of the players from last year and they’re ready to come back and play,” says Barrett. “But we need a lot more people to make that commitment to season tickets because we as a board made that commitment to keep the club here. We’re counting on people to support the hockey club in Merritt.”

Dylan comes from the Alberta Junior Hockey League as an assistant coach for Sherwood Park and had coached the Central Thrashers at the Alberta Cup Tournament in spring.

Tyler served as a scout in Sherwood Park last season and was named assistant coach of the Thompson Major Midget Blazers earlier this year, but stepped down to come to Merritt.

The BCHL is also expected to weigh in some time this week.

Meet the Coaches:

I had a chance to sit down with the new Merritt Centennials management team, Dylan and Tyler Forsythe, shortly after they were formally introduced yesterday.

Cents Head Coach and Assistant GM Dylan Forsythe & Cents GM and Assistant Coach Tyler Forsythe

Click here to download

All audio property of Radio NL (Merritt Broadcasting Ltd.)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Merritt Names New Coach/GM Tandem:

Here's the official release from the BCHL on the Centennials latest changes:

Merritt, BC -- August 18, 2009 -- The Merritt Centennials have appointed Dylan and Tyler Forsythe to form the team’s new coaching and management team, the club announced Tuesday.

Dylan Forsythe will serve as Merritt’s Head Coach and Assistant General Manager while Tyler has been brought aboard as General Manager and Assistant Coach.

Dylan joins the Centennials following assistant coaching stints with the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Sherwood Park Crusaders and the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Neepawa Natives. Tyler, who also worked with the Crusaders as a goaltending coach, has an extensive background in scouting at the Junior A level in Western Canada.

“We’re excited to have Dylan and Tyler on board and we feel like they will be an
excellent fit moving forward as they lead the Centennials,” team governor Brian Barrett says of the hires. “Both Dylan and Tyler are hard workers with good hockey experience. They’ll work closely together in all aspects of our operations.”

“Both Tyler and I are looking forward to the challenge of re-establishing the proud
tradition of Centennials hockey in Merritt,” Dylan Forsythe says. “Our goal as we move into the season is to ice a team capable of making the playoffs, which would be a solid start for the franchise and its fans.”

“We want to establish Merritt as a place where players can grow and develop in a
winning environment,” Tyler Forsythe says. “We’re excited to see what the players can
do when camp begins next week and I know they are looking forward to coming in with a
fresh start and making a good first impression.”

For further information, please contact the Merritt Centennials office at (250) 378-3067.


Media Contact:
Jeff Dubois
Director, Media Services
British Columbia Hockey League
O: (604) 422-8783
C: (604) 837-8867

Cents to Stage Big Party:

Here's last week's article from the Merritt News regarding the Centennials. Obviously some of this information is now out of date in light of the recent management shuffle within the team.

Cents to stage big party - John O'Connor - Merritt News

The Merritt Centennials will kick off their exhibition season with a big party in hopes of stirring up more interest in the team.

The British Columbia Hockey League’s longest running franchise, now in its 37th year, will kick off the exhibition round, starting Aug. 31, with a first ever tailgate party.

Merritt Centennials marketing manager Maddison Canuel says the party will be in the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena parking lot and begin around 4:30 and run until the opening face off at 7 p.m. There will be music, food, and a barbecue set up.

Tailgate parties are common in Canada and the United States, especially in the Canadian Football League, but this will be unique as it is not common with hockey.

“There’s already way more excitement in the community with the changes that have been made,” said Canuel.

The Centennials received a serious face lift during the off season, acquiring an entirely new coaching staff.

Cents head coach Joey Bouchard was hired in the spring and assistant coaches Luke Pierce and Richard Molenaar were added shortly thereafter.

Although only 100 season’s tickets have been sold, Canuel is optimistic that the team can sell just short of their 500 season’s ticket goal drive.

Canuel says people who buy season’s tickets have said that they will wait and see how the team does before they renew their ticket packages.

The Centennials are also looking for more corporate sponsorship and have made available some new packages.

An example of one of these packages is the silver package which buys a business the right to their logo on the Centennials game day roster, recognition on the team’s website, 2 seasons tickets, one set of stairs logo at the Memorial Arena, and a full page ad in the Centennials program.

The teams’ marketing department has also created the Player of the Month package for interested corporate sponsors. A sponsor will make an on ice presentation to the Merritt Centennial Player of the Month before the start of the first home game of each month.

The sponsor will provide the prize and be featured in the team program.

The Cents are seeking game night sponsors, rink board advertisements, and hockey jersey patches.

In addition to season’s tickets, there are also 30-game packs available.

Season's ticket prices for adults are $250, $210 for students, and $100 for minor hockey players.

The 30-Game Family Pack is $650 and includes to adult season's tickets and two season's tickes for either students, seniors, or children.

The 10-Game Flex Pack is $110 for adults, $80 for students, and $70 for seniors or children. Corporate and group rates are also available.

Currently, the Centennials have the cheapest single game tickets in the B.C. Hockey League.

Merritt Centennials’ exhibition schedule:
Aug 31 - Merritt vs. Penticton 7 p.m. - Nicola Valley Memorial Arena
Sept 2 - Merritt @ Penticton 7:30 p.m. - South Okanagan Events Centre
Sept 3 - Merritt @ Salmon Arm - 7:30 p.m. - Sunwave Centre
Sept 4 - Merritt vs. Salmon Arm - 7:30 p.m. - Nicola Valley Memorial Arena
Sept 6 - Merritt @ Westside - 2:30 p.m. - Royal LePage Place

Regular Season Home Opener
Sept 11 - Trail @ Merritt 7:30 pm - Nicola Valley Memorial Arena

Forsythe Brothers Take Over Cents:

With training camp just days away and the team lacking a head coach and general manager, it didn't take long for the Merritt Centennials to fill both roles.

I've learned that the Cents new coach is Dylan Forsythe. I tried to find some information about Forsythe and my research shows that he was an assistant coach with Neepawa of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League in 2005-06 before being hired as an assistant coach for Sherwood Park of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, a position he held until 2008. I couldn't find any record of coaching at the junior level for Forsythe last season, although he did coach the Central Thrashers at this spring's Alberta Cup tournament.

His brother Tyler is the Cents new general manager and assistant coach. He served as a scout for Sherwood Park last season and was named assistant coach of the Thompson Major Midget Blazers earlier this spring, a position he's resigned from after being hired by the Cents.

I've also learned that the BCHL will issue a release this afternoon at 2 o'clock regarding the Centennials management situation, but at this point it's unknown if the release will only address the resignation of Joey Bouchard or if it will include the hiring of Dylan and Tyler Forsythe.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cents Trade Fratkin to Nanaimo:

(Casey Fratkin with the Cents last season)

The Merritt Centennials continue to make news off the ice as I've learned that the team has traded F Casey Fratkin (89) to the Nanaimo Clippers for future considerations.

Fratkin debuted with the Cents as a rookie at the start of the 2006-07 season and played 47 games, posting five goals and five assists. The Burnaby product was traded to Vernon at the start of the 2007-08 season, but only skated with the Vipers for just over a month before being dealt to North Bay of the NOJAHL. Fratkin was then signed by the KIJHL's Chase Chiefs in January of 2008 and played 14 games with them. He was invited to Cents camp last season and made the roster as fourth line energy player before then-coach Al Glendinning asked him to switch to playing defence. Once he made the switch, Fratkin played some of his best hockey on the blueline.

Heading into this season, Fratkin was a victim of the numbers game. As a 1989 born player, his fate likely hindered on the performance of the other 20-year-olds. Obviously Nanaimo sees something in Fratkin and I wish him all the best with the Clippers.

I would presume that this trade was agreed upon while Joey Bouchard was still coach and GM of the Cents, which makes me wonder if there are any other deals out there that are just waiting to be finalized, or if they'll even be finalized at all.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Bouchard Resigns As Cents Head Coach and GM:

I received word today that Joey Bouchard has stepped down as Centennials head coach and GM due to personal reasons. I'm still trying to find out the exact details behind the resignation, although I've learned that there were some irreconcilable differences between Bouchard and the Cents Board of Directors.

I hope to have more on this situation as it develops, but I can confirm that the Cents have a new coach and GM in place and that camp will start next Sunday night as scheduled.

There's speculation from Fred Harbinson on Ryan Pinder's Vees blog that the home and home exhibition games between Merritt and Penticton may be cancelled, but I can confirm that they will happen as scheduled.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Former Cents Trainer Paul Ayotte Moves onto the Pros:

Paul Ayotte behind the bench of the Swift Current Broncos

Former Centennials trainer/equipment manager Paul Ayotte has advanced to the pro ranks with the AHL's Toronto Marlies. He's been with the Swift Current Broncos for the past four seasons.

Here's the release from the Broncos website:

Swift Current Broncos General Manager and Head Coach Mark Lamb announced that Athletic Therapist Paul Ayotte has accepted the head athletic therapist position with the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League.

“Paul is a hard working individual that was a great asset to our organization, comments Lamb, we congratulate him on moving up into the professional hockey ranks. We thank him for his dedication to the Broncos and wish him and his wife Tenille the best of luck in Toronto.”

Ayotte, originally from Winnipeg, spent 4 seasons as the head athletic therapist/equipment manager for the Broncos after coming to Swift Current from Merritt of the BC Hockey League. He joins the AHL affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs as both the Leafs and Marlies have a shared practice facility.

The Broncos will begin the search for a new athletic therapist/equipment manager immediately.

Former Cents forward Bill Vandermeer signs with CHL's Missouri Mavericks:

(Bill Vandermeer skating last season with Oklahoma City)

The Central Hockey League's Missouri Mavericks have signed former Cents forward Bill Vandermeer.

Fans might remember that Vandermeer was involved in one of the biggest trades in recent memory for the Centennials. At the trade deadline in January 2005, Bill and Blair Riley were dealt to Nanaimo for Rylan Burns, Daryle Hurd, Kevin Lessard and future considerations (which ended up being Trevor McKenzie and Greg Tyshynski).

Here's the release from the Mavericks:

INDEPENDENCE, Missouri - Missouri Mavericks' head coach Scott Hillman announced Thursday that the Central Hockey League (CHL) club has signed center Bill Vandermeer to the 2009-10 inaugural Mavericks' roster. Vandermeer was introduced to a contingent of fans at "Moonlight Movies on the Independence Square" Thursday night.

Vandermeer, 25 (5/3/84), is beginning his fifth pro season with the Mavericks having come off his third straight year in which he has eclipsed the 30-goal plateau. The Caroline, Alberta native has played the last three seasons in the CHL with the Amarillo Gorillas for two seasons and last season with the Oklahoma City Blazers. In his two seasons with the Gorillas, the 5-11, 180-pound center led the team in scoring both seasons, and followed that up by leading the Blazers in goals with 30 and points with 62. Vandermeer started his professional career with the Richmond Riverdogs of the United Hockey League (UHL) during the 2005-06 season scoring 27 points (8-19=27) in 67 games. Prior to turning pro, he played in the junior ranks and recorded 126 points (40-86-126) in 161 games over five seasons.

"The Mavericks will play exciting hockey," exclaimed Hillman. "Bill has scored over 100 goals in the last three seasons and that is exciting hockey. Having played against Bill, I can tell you that he is tough for defensemen to handle because he finds open ice, has a great shot and a quick release. He is sure to give our fans a lot to cheer about."

Last season with the Blazers, Vandermeer was named the Oakley CHL Player of the Week for the week of November 17-23, 2008 in which he scored six points (4-2=6) in just three games. He picked a hat trick, the fourth of his career, and added an assist in a 6-0 win over the Tulsa Oilers on January 29, 2009. Vandermeer tallied his 100th goal as a professional on February 13, 2009 in a 4-2 win against the Rapid City Rush.

"We continue to add depth to our lineup," said Mavericks' president and general manager Brent Thiessen. "Bill Vandermeer is a player that will score a lot of goals and will be exciting to watch. He is a great character guy and we are looking forward to big things from him. It was also great for us to announce him in front of our fans at Moonlight Movies on the Independence Square."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

DQ Miracle Treat Day:

I just wanted to encourage all my blog readers and BCHL fans to head to their local Dairy Queen today to help support children's charities. Here in BC, all proceeds from every Blizzard sold at DQ Restaurants go to BC Children's Hospital, which is where my son was almost forced to go after some complications when he was born last September. So regardless of what the weather forecast, go out and get yourself the largest Blizzard you can eat! We raised just over $2 million last year and $6000 alone in Merritt, so let's beat that this year!

Here's a link for more information on Miracle Treat Day.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Waldrop Leaves Merritt for Wichita Falls:

(J.J. Waldrop)

The Merritt Centennials roster got thinner by one player today as J.J. Waldrop has left the team to play for the Wichita Falls Wildcats of the NAHL. According to the Wildcats website, Waldrop is among the 27 players the team will take to its training camp.

I think Waldrop realized it was going to be tough for him to crack the Centennials roster with at least Jordan Soquila, Brad Bourke and Ryne Bodger all 1989-born players ahead of him on the club's depth chart. With the style that J.J. played, it's likely the Centennials will be able to replace his ten points in 37 games with a younger player who won't take up a 20-year-old position.

As far as I know, the Cents won't receive any compensation as a result of Waldrop jumping to the NAHL because he's an American-born U.S. citizen.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Cents Name Jason Kitzan Athletic Trainer/Equipment Manager:

The Centennials added another member to their off-ice staff this week as Jason Kitzan has been hired as Athletic Therapist/Equipment Manager for the 2009-10 season. Kitzan spent last season as the athletic trainer for the Brooks Bandits of the AJHL. He also spent the 2008 baseball season as the athletic trainer for the Calgary Vipers of the Golden Baseball League.

I had the chance to talk today with Centennials head coach and GM Joey Bouchard about the hiring.

Cents Head Coach and GM Joey Bouchard

Click here to download

All audio property of Radio NL (Merritt Broadcasting Ltd.)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Former Centennial Brian Kang Commits to Concordia College:

This is from the BCHL website, as submitted by the Alberni Valley Bulldogs:

The Alberni Valley Bulldogs are pleased to announce that forward Brian Kang has committed to play for Concordia College for the 2009/10 season.

A four-year BCHL veteran, Kang finished his junior career with the Bulldogs at the conclusion of the 2008/09 season after scoring 11 goals and adding 13 assists in 53 games.

In a BCHL-record 280 career games, Kang recorded totals of 59 goals and 56 assists for 115 points during stints with the Cowichan Valley Capitals, Trail Smoke Eaters, Merritt Centennials and the Bulldogs.

Concordia College is a small, private school of 2,800 students located in Moorhead, Minnesota. The Concordia Cobb Men's Hockey team is a member of the NCAA Division III and the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

"The Bulldogs couldn't be happier for Brian as he embarks on a new chapter in his life and hockey career," says Alberni Valley head coach and general manager Nolan Graham. "Concordia has a strong hockey program and is an excellent school academically. We wish Brian all the best as he pursues his goals on the ice and in the classroom."

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Cents Midsummer Update:

In light of everything that's been happening with the Centennials in the last couple of weeks, I've featured three different team personnel on my show this week. Rather than individually post them each day, I thought I'd post them here in this HUGE midsummer Cents update.

Here's assistant coach Luke Pierce on returning to Merritt and his overall thoughts regarding the Centennials situation.

Cents Assistant Coach Luke Pierce

Click here to download

Here's head coach and GM Joey Bouchard on his preparations for training camp and also the need for billet families for the upcoming season.

Cents Head Coach and GM Joey Bouchard

Click here to download

And last but certainly not least, here's Centennials society president Jerry Canuel on the latest ownership developments and prospects for the team moving forward this season and beyond.

Cents Junior 'A' Hockey Club Society President Jerry Canuel

Click here to download

All audio property of Radio NL (Merritt Broadcasting Ltd.)

There should be a lot more news and notes for the Cents as we get closer to training camp, which opens in two weeks.

Centennials Sale Falls Through:

Here's this week's Merritt News article about the Cents purchase offer being pulled by Brent Stark's group:

Centennials sale falls through
John O’Connor - Merritt News

The sale of the Merritt Centennials to an Alberta businessman has fallen through unexpectedly but the Centennials Society is prepared to run the team again.

Last Wednesday, Whitecourt Wolverines president Brent Stark and his purchase group Stark Sports Entertainment, unexpectedly pulled out of talks with the Merritt Centennials and the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) to purchase the team.

“It certainly caught everybody by surprise,” said Merritt Centennials governor and director of hockey operations Brian Barrett.

“We had a very good feeling that everything would have gone through but at the last minute he pulled out his application to purchase the franchise,” continued Barrett.

The Centennials, who have been kept alive thanks in part to private community-based supporters, were scheduled to be purchased by Stark Sports pending approval from the BCHL.

“We never really got a clear explanation as to what happened,” said Barrett.

The sale of the team to Stark was announced shortly after former Whitecourt Wolverines head coach Joey Bouchard was named the Centennials bench boss in May.

Stark has not returned messages left by the Merritt News. The Wolverines are a Junior B team in Alberta’s North West Junior Hockey League. The team won the league championship under Bouchard and Stark last season.

Barrett says the non-profit Merritt Centennials Hockey Club Society is confident and will continue to run the team as it has before the deal was announced.

“We will be operating the club on a clean slate,” said Barrett.

The $350,000 dept from past seasons has been paid off by community supporters.

We had a meeting here prior to this offer coming on the table – they were 110 per cent behind the restructured Society and if for whatever reason this didn’t come through that they were prepared to operate it in a very professional and strong fashion, “ said BCHL Commissioner John Grisdale.

“I can tell you that all of the bills and everything have been paid and from the Society point of view and the board point of view, it’s in a very good position.”

The Merritt Centennials made some changes to their Board of Directors in the spring. Tod Dean, Beth Nadeau, Frank Etchart, Jerry Canuel and Brian Barrett are all new additions to the Board.

The Centennials will play their first exhibition game at 7 p.m. August 31 against Penticton at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.

Cents Back to Board:

Here's the Merritt Herald's take on the Centennials sale falling through. Thanks to Chris for the props!

By Chris Koehn - Merritt Herald

The Merritt Centennials will be on their own financially this season after Brent Stark, owner of the Whitecourt Wolverines in Alberta, rescinded his bid for ownership last month.

Marc Chayer, the vice president of Stark’s hockey club operations, was contacted for the official word on Friday but deferred his comments to a forthcoming press release.

None was received, however, and Chayer did not return phone calls as of Monday.

Brian Barrett, governor of the Merritt Centennials Hockey Society, reported on Brian Wiebe’s Merritt Centennials blog, Making Cents, that the organization was shocked and disappointed.

“We’ve massaged this deal for the last three months trying to put something together,” Barrett said. “I think there was a lot of excitement in the community with the thought of new ownership coming on board with maybe expanded budgets and what have you.”

Barrett stated that he has not yet received an explanation from neither Stark nor Chayer as to why they decided not to go through with the purchase.

Though the deal has fallen through, Barrett said that the team will move forward and concentrate on ticket sales. Coach Joey Bouchard, who was considered part of a package deal with Stark’s prospective ownership will remain on staff, Barrett stated.

“He [Bouchard] said he was in as much shock as anybody, but he’s committed to being coach and general manager, moving on and putting a winning

hockey team on the ice,” Barrett explained.

Late last month, Bouchard announced the hiring of his assistant coaching staff which includes former Centennial, and Merrittonian, Luke Pierce, as well as Richard Molenaar.

Both have experience on ice with junior hockey teams in the BCHL and at the college level.

Bouchard reported that each will greatly add to the bench.

“Luke was a character hockey player when he played, he was a gritty player, and he was also a leader,” he said. “We’re excited to have him on board and to get him back in his hometown and helping coach our hockey club.

“Richard has a great hockey background, he’s got a great education background and we’re looking forward to having him on board. I’m sure he’ll add a lot of knowledge and enthusiasm to this year’s Centennials team.”

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Former Centennial Mike Ouellette Signs in Austrian League:

(Mike Ouellette with the Hartford Wolf Pack)

Former Merritt Centennials forward and BCHL rookie of the year in 2001, Mike Ouellette has signed with KHL Medveščak Zagreb of the Austrian Hockey League.

Here's the article on the EBEL website (which I've translated from German to English):

Three New Medveščak for Zagreb

League newcomer Medveščak KHL Zagreb secured for the 2009/10 season, the services of the 21-year-old Croatian striker Michael Novak, the 27-year-old Canadian center Mike Ouellette and the 26-year-old American striker wing Jeff Corey.

League newcomer Medveščak KHL Zagreb has for the first year in the Erste Bank Hockey League further enhanced: the Croats announced today the signing of three players known and have their main emphasis laid on the offensive in the coming season are only 21 years old Striker Michael Novak (CRO), the 27-year-old center Mike Ouellette (CAN) and the 26-year-old striker wing Jeff Corey (USA) Dress of the capital city on other civilizations.

Mike Ouellette changes from AHL club Hartford Wolf Pack to Croatia. For Hartford reached the 27-year-old Canadians in the 2008/2009 season in 77 games 31 points (15 goals and 16 assists). Earlier career stops along the 27-year-old center, the first time the jump to Europe dares, the Centennial Merritt (BCHL), the Dartmouth College (NCAA), the Springfield Falcons (AHL) and Charlotte Checkers (Echle).