Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cents Acquire Jones from Nanaimo:


New Cents defenceman Mitchell Jones (while with Penticton earlier this season)

Cents GM Tyler Forsythe made his first trade since joining the team today, acquiring defenceman Mitchell Jones (91) from the Nanaimo Clippers for defenceman Jake Baker (91). Jones was picked up earlier by Nanaimo from Penticton for future considerations. Word is that those futures are actually the completion of a previous trade between the Clippers and Vees.

Baker had requested a trade from the Cents last week after playing his rookie year and three games this season in Merritt.

Jones had been used in Penticton as both a defenceman and a forward, but word is he prefers to play on the blueline and had an excellent year with Richmond of the PIJHL last season, scoring 15 goals and 31 points in 46 games, good enough for fifth among all defencemen and first among rookie blueliners. In fact, eight of Jones' goals came on the power play. In the playoffs, the Delta product led all Sockeyes defencemen in scoring with nine points in 13 games, including six goals, one on the power play and two shorthanded.

Jones will practice with the Cents tomorrow and will be in the lineup against Salmon Arm on Saturday night.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cents nip Penticton 5-4:

The Cents knocked off the number-three ranked team in the country with a 5-4 win against Penticton. I'll have more on the game hopefully tomorrow, but for now, here's an interview that I did with Cents coach Dylan Forsythe following the big victory.

Cents Head Coach/Assistant GM Dylan Forsythe

Click here to download

All audio property of Merritt Broadcasting Ltd.

Q&A with Cents GM Tyler Forsythe:

With the Cents set to host Penticton tonight and riding a four game losing streak, I had the chance to chat with GM Tyler Forsythe on my morning show today.

Cents GM/Assistant Coach Tyler Forsythe

Click here to download

All audio property of Merritt Broadcasting Ltd.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Cents Slammed 8-2 by Powell River:

Here's the game summary from the Cents website as they lost 8-2 in Powell River:

Powell River, BC - September 25, 2009

Ben Schmidt had two goals and an assist while Andrew Pettitt and Darcy Huisman each had a goal and two assists in the Powell River Kings' 8-2 victory over the Merritt Centennials on Friday night.

Schmidt opened the scoring at 2:49 of the first period when he jumped on a loose puck after a huge hit by Cents defenceman Derek Hills and buried it behind Norbert Biszczak. Former Merritt captain Jordan Grant made it 2-0 with a power-play goal 8:38 into the game, firing the puck into an empty net after a pass from Justin Hogan. Pettitt, at 12:18, and Huisman, at 13:40, gave Powell River a 4-0 lead after 20 minutes. Biszczak was replaced by Cole Holowenko following the Kings' fourth goal.

Kevin Philp got the Centennials on the board 1:41 into the second period. Schmidt notched his second of the night less than three minutes later to make it 5-1. Powell River's Reid Campbell on the power play at 7:59 and Merritt's David Sabey at 10:16 traded goals as the score after two read 6-2 Kings.

Klay Kachur added another extra-man goal at 11:47 of the third and Chad Niddery rounded out the scoring for Powell River just 16 seconds later.

Goalie Michael Garteig finished with 27 saves.

The Kings improved to 4-2-0-0. Merritt fell to 1-3-0-0 and has scored only eight goals in four games. The Centennials return to the ice Saturday night in Burnaby.

Merritt Peewee Rep - The Hockey News:

I received this email from Christine Fichter, who is helping to organize a fundraiser for the Merritt Peewee Rep team. Here's her letter:

Dear Supporters:

The 2009 - 2010 MMHA Peewee Rep team is working hard, both on and off the ice, to
make this a successful season. On ice, we are fortunate to have some excellent coaches working to help our kids with conditioning, skills, and on-ice strategy. Off ice, we are working to raise funds to help offset the costs associated with rep team play, ensuring that our young hockey fans enjoy the winter sport they love best - HOCKEY!

This year as one of our fundraising initiatives, we are teaming up with The Hockey News magazine to bring up-to-date hockey stats and information to your mailbox every two weeks. You/your child get to keep up with all the latest hockey talk, and our team is rewarded with a percentage of each subscription sold.

For $50.00, you receive 30 issues of the magazine, including special bonus issues such as: Yearbook, Future Watch, and more. Count on The Hockey News to bring you all the pulse-pounding hockey action: first-hand coverage of all the excitement, behind-the bench close-ups of your favorite teams, hard-hitting opinions from the top sportswriters and team-by-team coverage, full-color action shots and profiles of the biggest stars, PLUS schedules, rosters, predictions, stats, scoops, and so much more!

To purchase a subscription, please return the information/funds requested
to Christine Fichter (250-378-9666) by Saturday, October 3rd.

The Peewee Rep Team thanks you for your support!

Sincerely,
Crystal McMaster
Peewee Rep Team Manager

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cents Fall 7-2 to Burnaby:

Here's a recap of the game from the Cents website:

Merritt, BC - September 24, 2009

Canton, Michigan product Jon Puskar scored his fourth and fifth goal in four games and Matt Ius added two goals as the Burnaby Express posted a 7-2 victory over the Merritt Centennials on Wednesday night.

Former Centennial Dylan Herold, along with Garrick Perry and Zac Ashdown, also each had a goal and an assist to help the Express remain undefeated in the regular season with a 3-0-0-1 record.

After the Cents opened the scoring on a Dustin Johnson goal at 10:22 of the first period, Burnaby popped four goals in the second period on Merritt goaltender Spencer Bacon, who was making his first career BCHL start.

Bacon was pulled to start the third period as Norbert Biszczak took over in his first action since opening night on September 11. Biszczak allowed three goals on 13 shots before Johnson rounded out the scoring with his second of the game at the 12:59 mark of the third period. Former Cents goaltender Harrison May made 36 saves for Burnaby in earning second star honours.

Merritt wound up the game 1-for-6 on the power play while the Express finished 1-for-2. Shots on goal were 40-38 in favour of Burnaby.

Thomas Hardy, who was acquired by the Centennials during the off-season from the Express, has quit the team and there's no word whether or not he'll return to Merritt. Colton Sobchak sat out the game for the Cents as he recovers from a shoulder injury while goaltender Cole Holowenko was a healthy scratch. Gary Rai remains out of the lineup due to personal reasons.

The Centennials play their first road game Friday night as they head to Powell River to take on the Kings. They'll have a return match-up with Burnaby Saturday night at the Bill Copeland Arena. Both road games will be available in Merritt on Q101-FM.

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I had the chance to talk to Cents coach Dylan Forsythe after the game:

Cents Head Coach/Assistant GM Dylan Forsythe

Click here to download

All audio property of Merritt Broadcasting Ltd.
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As mentioned during the game recap, forward Thomas Hardy has left the Centennials and may not be back. I've heard a couple of different reasons for Hardy, who was traded from Burnaby to Merritt during the summer in exchange for RJay Berra, deciding to leave the team. Neither have been confirmed by the Cents, but I've heard that Hardy wanted to go back to school on the Lower Mainland or he was unhappy with his icetime and role on the team. Regardless, I feel Hardy can be an impact player in the BCHL and hope that either he comes back to Merritt to continue his career or if he doesn't want to play here, that the Centennials would be able to get something in return via trade.
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I am not a fan at all of the two fight rule in some instances. I understand why it's in place, because you can't have one player getting into a multiple fight situation, but last night was an example of where it doesn't work. Jake Baker was instigated into a fight by Rich Manley in the first period and then laid out Garrick Perry with a clean hit in the second period, only to be jumped by Zac Ashdown, who thought the hit was questionable. The end result, Baker gets kicked out of the game for defending himself against Ashdown and the Cents lose one of their top blueliners. Now if goading Baker into fighting was the Express' game plan, then full credit to them because it worked. I'm just wondering if maybe the two fight rule could be a referee's discretion...
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The Centennials did make a trade prior to last night's game as the junior A rights to defenceman Matt Cumming were dealt to the AJHL's Grand Prairie Storm. Merritt receives future considerations in the deal, but there's been no word yet whether the futures are a player or cash. I hope to have more information on the trade later today. Cumming, who's played the last two seasons in Prince George with the WHL's Cougars, was a late cut by the Kamloops Blazers this season.
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I apologize for the video feed cutting out in the third period last night. I noticed it at the end of the game and it was simply a cable that just came unplugged. I'll be sure to tape the cables together in time for Tuesday's game against Penticton.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rai has NOT Requested a Trade:

As someone who works in the media and is a fan of the Centennials, I try to reflect what fans of the team are talking about with this blog. Not all of the info I convey in this space comes directly from the team or its' management staff, but I like to think that usually my sources are accurate. I'm not in it to hurt anyone or to make up information.

Although I wrote a couple of days ago about Gary Rai requesting a trade from the Cents, it's been confirmed by Centennials coach Dylan Forsythe that the information is indeed incorrect. Rai has left the team, but I know now for sure that it's for nothing more than personal reasons. I apologize for any issues my inaccuracy may have caused.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cents Broadcast Contests & Online Broadcasts:

I just wanted to let all my trusty blog readers that there are a couple of contests we have hooked up on Q101 that are associated with our Cents broadcasts.

First we have the Grand Pub & Grill Power Play contest. Basically you enter your name at the Grand in Merritt and when the Cents get a power play, play-by-play man Alex Grebenyuk will draw a name and if Merritt scores, you'll win a $20 gift certificate from the Grand. If the Cents don't score a power play in a game and we don't have a winner, the $20 prize gets added to the next game. For example, obviously the Cents didn't score a power play goal on Friday against Prince George, so the prize for Wednesday's game against Burnaby is $40.

Our second contest is the Han's Golden Wok Hat Trick contest. Again, you enter your name at Han's in the Best Western in Merritt and during each Cents broadcast, Alex will draw a name and if a Cents player scores a hat trick in that game, you'll win a $20 gift certificate from Han's. The contest works the same as the Power Play contest in that if there's no winner, the prize continues to grow, meaning that this Wednesday's prize in the Hat Trick contest is also $40.

I also wanted to mention about the online broadcasts, both video and audio, of the Cents games from here in Merritt. We've had our share of issues in getting the broadcasts to work properly in the last year, but I think that FINALLY I've gotten everything sorted out. If the broadcast doesn't work for you, either video or audio, for any of Merritt's home games, please let me know by emailing me at mornings@Q101.ca. The more info you can give me, the better and I'll do my best to fix the problem, IF it's at our end. In the New Year, Q101 hopes to be streaming online with a website, so that should make things easier for fans afar wanting to listen to live Cents hockey.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Cents Fall 2-0 to PG:

The Cents suffered their first loss of the season 2-0 against Prince George last night. It's tough for 16-year-old Cole Holowenko as he played well in the loss, but didn't receive any offensive support from the players in front of him.

The Cents missed the presence of Dustin Johnson, Colton Sobchak and Gary Rai as obviously their forward depth was tested with all three out of the lineup. Johnson and Sobchak both took part in the game day skate yesterday, which indicates they are close to returning from their nagging injuries, maybe even as soon as Wednesday's home game against Burnaby. As for Rai, I wouldn't expect to see him back in a Cents sweater any time soon, if ever again. He's at home in Vancouver after requesting a trade away from the Country Music Capital of Canada. I would think that any trade involving the 19-year-old would have to bring another forward to the Cents as the team's depth on defence has been well-documented.

One possibility that GM Tyler Forsythe and assistant GM Dylan Forsythe have is to package Rai and one of the Cents excess defenceman in exchange for a top six forward. Time will tell.
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The other big news heading into last night's game was that the Spruce Kings picked up former Cents goaltender Kyle Nielsen as a free agent after Merritt released him last week. Kyle's a good guy and a goaltender with some very good potential. I wish him the best of luck in PG.
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Forward Michael Nardi, who was released by the Centennials earlier this month, has resurfaced with the PIJHL's North Delta Devils. Nardi was acquired by the Cents just before the trade deadline last season along with future considerations (which ended up in a roundabout way being Thomas Hardy) in exchange for Alex Goodship. After being a big time scorer at the midget level, for some reason, Nardi couldn't find that consistency at the junior 'A' level. I wouldn't be surprised if he did wind up in the BCHL before the season is done, but the Cents depth of 1990-born forwards is likely why he isn't wearing Merritt colours.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wednesday News & Notes:

Here are a few notes regarding former Cents players for your Wednesday night.

Former Cents forward Tyler Barr has signed with the Central Hockey League's Colorado Eagles as a free agent. The Eagles have a photo of T-Barr with the Cents on their website and make no mention of his play with Spruce Grove last season, but of course that's where the Vancouver product played last season after being traded from Merritt last November. You can read the Eagles release here.

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Former Cents captain Cameron Brodie, who was acquired from Trail last summer and sent to Burnaby last October in the blockbuster deal that brought Jordan Soquila and Alex Valenti to Merritt, will begin his pro career with Syracuse of the American Hockey League. Brodie, who won the RBC with Vernon after being sent to the Vipers from the Express, was on a pro tryout with the Columbus Blue Jackets. After receiving a scholarship to Colgate for this season, it appears Brodie will forgo that and begin playing pro. Here's the Blue Jackets release on Brodie's reassignment to Syracuse.

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Former Cents forward Ryan Aynsley, who was released earlier this month, has caught on with the Castlegar Rebels of the KIJHL. He has one goal in the Rebels first two games of the season.

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Forward Briar McNaney, who was one of the Cents last cuts before the pre-season started, was originally thought to be playing for the Thompson Blazers of the BC Major Midget League has joined the Columbia Valley Rockies in Invermere to start his junior career. McNaney's off to a very strong start as well, posting four points in the Rockies first three games. Too bad the results haven't been better as CV is 0-3 to start the season.

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Here is this week's article in the Merritt Herald on the Cents opening night win over the Trail Smoke Eaters.

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Cents assistant coach Luke Pierce has started to write a weekly article for the Herald as well. This week's article is here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Former Cents forward Casey Fratkin Traded to La Ronge:

Forward Casey Fratkin, who the Cents traded to Nanaimo last month, is on the move again. This time, it's the LaRonge Ice Wolves of the SJHL who have acquired the Burnaby product's rights. On the BCHL website, it incorrectly lists the Ice Wolves in the SIJHL, but they are in fact a member of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. It certainly has been a whirlwind junior career for Fratkin, as noted when he was traded to the Clippers last month. He's had stops in Merritt, Vernon, Nanaimo, Chase, North Bay, ON and now La Ronge, SK. I hope for Fratty's sake that he's able to settle in one spot this season and play hockey for his final year of junior availability.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Cents Win Season Opener:

It was a great weekend for the Cents and their fans as the team won a season opener and home opener for the first time since the 2006-07 season. That night, it was Wade MacLeod who did the damage with three goals and an assist in a 6-3 win over Prince George. This past Friday, it was the unlikely duo of Ryne Bodger and Derek Hills that powered the Cents to a 4-2 win over the Trail Smoke Eaters.

We found out just before the game that Jordan Soquila was named Cents captain for this season. I personally think it's a great choice as Jordan carries himself very well both on and off the ice. He always is respectful and did a great job speaking on behalf of the team at the Terry Fox Run in Merritt yesterday. On the ice, Soquila looks like he may be poised for a breakout offensive year after notching two assists against the Smokies. The Maple Ridge product averaged almost half a point per game last season, his second in the BCHL, and put up more than a point per game in his final year of bantam and also in junior B.

During the game, I was impressed with the grittiness of newcomers Daniel Chang and Silvan Harper. Although both showed flashes of the offensive flair displayed at other levels, it was their willingness to go into the corners and also show the ability to draw penalties that will make them valuable additions to the Cents lineup. The key, of course, will be to perform those roles consistently.

Norbert Biszczak looked a little shaky at first in making his junior A debut, but shook it off quickly to finish with a tidy 30 saves. The Cents coaching staff have yet to anoint a number one goaltender, but I would think that all things being equal, they'll go with the player with the hot hand. There's so much more to mention about the game, but I'm running short on time. I do want to thank everyone that took the time to come say hello and enjoy a hot dog or hamburger as part of the tailgate party. It was great to see the rink just 250 shy of a sell out and hopefully the crowd will be even bigger this Friday against PG.

I want to apologize for the audio and video not working through the BCHL site during Friday's game. I did a test earlier Friday afternoon with INSINC and the audio was working, but then come game time, the encoder decided to not work. I'm looking into it and hope to have at least audio ready to go for this Friday. As for the video, after fixing what we thought was the problem, it turns out that's NOT the problem and something else is. Again, we'll try to have it up and running for this Friday.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

2009-10 Cents Season Opening Roster:

Here's the Cents roster as it breaks down heading into Friday night's season opener against the Trail Smoke Eaters. There is expected to be two more cuts as this roster sits at 24 players and the team would like to be down to 22 before the season starts.

Goaltenders

1. Norbert Bizczsak (90)
2. Spencer Bacon (92)
3. Cole Holowenko (93)

Defencemen

1. Steve Tressiera (90) #4
2. Jake Baker (91) #27
3. Matt Mazzarolo (90) #2
4. Brad Bourke (89) #10
5. Derek Hills (90) #7
6. Ryne Bodger (89) #8
7. Jeff Zmurchyk (90) #3
8. Kameran Crawford (91) #28

Forwards

1. Dustin Johnson (90) #14
2. Colton Sobchak (90) #9
3. Alex Valenti (89) #16
4. Jordan Soquila (89) #12
5. Gary Rai (90) #19
6. Kevin Philp (90) #18
7. Thomas Hardy (91) #24
8. Stephen Wall (91) #22
9. Daniel Chang (91) #15
10. Silvan Harper (92) #26
11. David Sabey (91) #17
12. Joey McEwan (89) #21
13. Jeff Jones (91) #11

Stark Group Releases Statement Regarding Withdrawl of Cents Offer:

I received an email this morning from Marc Chayer, vice-president of club operations for the Whitecourt Wolverines regarding that group withdrawing their offer to purchase the Centennials.

What I find most interesting about this release is that the group repeatedly says that media reports were contradictory to what they were told, except they never ONCE returned a phone call or email to me once they pulled their offer. I was willing to give them the opportunity to explain their reasoning, but they didn't take me up on the offer. That being said, I'm not going to belabour the issue, nor get into a peeing match between the Stark Group and the Centennials Board of Directors. The Cents Board is here, the Stark Group is not, so as a result where my support lies is crystal clear.

STATEMENT

Re; Merritt Centennials Proposed Sale

In light of recent reports with respect to the collapsed sale of the Merritt Centennials, we felt compelled to bring the community up to speed as to our reasons for withdrawing our application to purchase the franchise.

Throughout our discussions it was understood by our management team that the situation in Merritt as it related to the team was a grave one indeed. With an abysmal record the season previous, a need for a coaching change (which had already been announced) and a distinct lack of resources both financially and operationally were probably the chief concerns that would need to be addressed.

From the initial start of the discussion, it was and remained our position that the team was under the direct control of the society until such a time that league approval of the sale had been achieved. This point was reiterated on several occasions and was evidenced by the fact that the contract negotiated with Joey Bouchard was in fact agreed to by the society board of directors and not our organization. Through repeated requests, we had asked for information as it pertained to the previous season’s door counts, vendor’s lists, suppliers, sponsors etc.

Despite reports in the media to the contrary, this information was not supplied. At one point in the process, our management team was left out of the conversation for 60 days while the society worked with Joey Bouchard. It had become evident that the “assumption” had been made that this was done deal when in fact our own insecurity regarding the sale was increasing and in fact we cancelled the sale on July 1 due to that exact reason.

It was only after emergency discussions in which we stipulated the need for an active and concise dialogue and partnership that the process was restarted.

At our meeting with the BCHL Franchise Committee on the 25th of July, we were again surprised with information which was either false, or simply not reported to anyone either at the league or to our firm.

While we approached the situation as realists in the sense that we knew of the challenges presented, the mitigating factor was the distinct lack of information coupled with varying stories as to the team’s progress during the off season. For instance, at the league Franchise Committee meeting we were stunned to hear a report given that stated that the team had in fact sold over 250 season tickets yet our last report had been that only 20 had been sold. Further, a report filed by Radio NL quotes Maddison Canuel as saying only 100 of the tickets had been sold.

We received repeated reports from Joey Bouchard that he had requested his pay on numerous occasions but had often had to resort to “badgering” the team officials to be paid. It was felt at our offices that simply put, the current team ownership was simply waiting for the league approval and was seriously avoiding having to invest any further into the team and that once the transaction had been completed, there would be no help from the society as it related to the teams day to day operations.

This issue it must be pointed out was extremely important as the business plan submitted to the BCHL not only had allowed for local ownership (Frank Etchart) but it also called for the continued involvement of the members of the society in the day to day operations of the team. This fact was well known to the society and had been agreed upon. Our primary request throughout the process was that we have open and honest discussions with regard to the team’s state of affairs so that we might be able to incorporate a strategy that would see the team return to the competitive ranks of the BCHL. On this point we were constantly frustrated and in fact in most instances our requests went unanswered.

It was and remained our intent to go ahead with the purchase of the team up until the day of the league wide conference call. With the facts as outlined we were simply unsure of the level of commitment that would forthcoming from the society members to assist us in making the franchise viable. On the brink of a substantial investment on our end, the lack of solid communications and facts as they pertained to our questions we felt that no other option existed for our firm except to cancel the sale at that time.

We would also wish to note that an explanation was made to both the league and to the Society President the day of the league wide conference call outlining our position and why we had to withdraw the offer at that time despite reports to the contrary. In our visits to the City of Merritt, we found that indeed the city should be home to the Centennials and that given an honest effort by a partnership forged with trust and a commitment to bring a quality team back to Merritt this endeavour would meet with success. In our discussions with the BCHL we found a group of experienced professionals who knew of the challenges we would face and were willing to assist us in any way possible, unfortunately, we did not find this same spirit with the society.

We have sincerely regretted having had to withdraw our offer and have since stated that we would be willing to revisit the issue should an invitation be forthcoming, however it must be understood that the good of the community and the team must be forefront in the discussion simply due to the fact that the confidence by prospect players, the league and all involved is low and the teams very survival depends on an honest and open effort by ownership.

Sincerely and without prejudice,
Stark Sports Entertainment

Nielsen on the Block?


I haven't received confirmation from Centennials management, but word is that goaltender Kyle Nielsen (90) is on the trade block.

The Centennials still have three goaltenders with them (none of which is Nielsen, according to sources) after a 1-4-0-0 pre-season record which saw the team record the highest goals against average in the BCHL.

Granted, those totals aren't entirely all on the goaltender's shoulders as the Centennials defence corps didn't perform as well as was expected.

Should Nielsen be traded or if there are any other moves, I'll be sure to have them right here on the blog as well as on Q101.

Progress of Penguins Prospect Pierro-Zabotel Surprising:


By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

KITCHENER, Ontario -- The Penguins realized a couple of years ago that Casey Pierro-Zabotel had some serious potential.

Hey, they did not invest a third-round draft choice in the kid because general manager Ray Shero or one of his scouts believes that hyphenated names are cool. But they did not necessarily foresee just how productive he would become. Or at least how quickly it would happen.

When they claimed Pierro-Zabotel with the 80th selection in the 2007 entry draft, he had not skated a single shift of major-junior hockey, having labored for the British Columbia Hockey League's Merritt Centennials the previous three winters.

But Pierro-Zabotel, who had been playing Tier II hockey to preserve his college eligibility and planned to pursue a business degree at Michigan Tech, opted to step up to the Western Hockey League a few months after being drafted and acquitted himself nicely by putting up 48 points in 49 games with the Vancouver Giants.

A point-per-game pace is pretty nice, at least until placed alongside Pierro-Zabotel's output in his second season of major junior, when he won the WHL scoring championship by accumulating 36 goals and 79 assists in 72 games.

"I had good teammates, good linemates, and a good coach who pushed me every day, made sure I was consistent," he said. "That was the main focus, to be consistent every day, and I thought I was."

Pierro-Zabotel was held out of the Penguins' 4-1 loss to Ottawa in a prospects tournament at Kitchener Memorial Auditorium last night, a move Shero said was "by design." Winger Luca Caputi was the other healthy scratch. Both had played with Eric Tangradi on the Penguins' top line in a 3-1 pre-tournament loss to Toronto Sunday and figure to fill prominent roles in games against Toronto tomorrow and Boston Thursday.

While it remains to be seen precisely what Pierro-Zabotel will accomplish in this tournament, he believes his participation last year led to his WHL success.

"I gained a lot of confidence from this camp, and then going to the main camp," he said. "I think that helped me all year."

Pierro-Zabotel will get another opportunity to impress management when the regular training camp starts with practice and a scrimmage Sunday, but his objective will be different. He is not interested in raising his profile inside the organization; he wants to prove he is ready for the NHL.

While Pierro-Zabotel likely recognizes he is a long shot, at best, to open the season on the NHL roster -- after all, he has never been more than an interested observer at a professional game -- it is clear his goal is to be with the Penguins, not their minor league team in Wilkes-Barre, a month from now.

And while he said "I'm ready to make any step. If [Wilkes-Barre] is the first step, I'm ready to do that," that should not be interpreted to mean he is resigned to playing in the American Hockey League.

"I just want to go [to camp] and show them what I have, show them I can keep up with the [NHL] guys," he said.

What Pierro-Zabotel has is good size (6 feet 2, 210 pounds) and a nice scoring touch that is complemented by his willingness to go to the net and absorb whatever punishment is necessary to score goals. His defensive game has been criticized at times and his acceleration is nothing special, although he usually seems to get to where he needs to be.

There is little doubt that Pierro-Zabotel still has a ways to go to realize his full potential, but less about how far he has come since he was drafted.



NOTES -- Nick Johnson got the only goal for the Penguins and Penguins goalie Brad Thiessen, signed as a free agent from Northeastern, stopped 25 of 28 Ottawa shots before the Senators scored an empty-net goal. ... Shero said that, unlike some previous years, a significant number of the players in the prospects tournament will attend the Penguins' main camp. ... The Penguins are expected to make cuts after a Sept. 17 intrasquad game at Wilkes-Barre.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Cents News & Notes:

I apologize again for the lack of posting in the last few days, it's Rodeo Fair Days here in Merritt and with this being the first weekend of full-time programming at the radio station and my son's first birthday, things have been pretty crazy outside of the blogosphere. But there are a few things to note with the Cents.

The team finished the pre-season with a 1-4-0-0 record after today's 6-5 loss to Westside. The Cents wound up with 17 goals-for and 34 goals-against, which is by far the most in the BCHL. With eight defencemen with BCHL experience, I think it's only a matter of time before one or more of them is moved for either a goaltender or some scoring help up front.

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The Cents do have another goaltender with them. This time it's Cole Holowenko (93) who was recently cut by the WHL's Chilliwack Bruins. Holowenko is 6'2" and 185 lbs. He played midget last season in Penticton and was the second goaltender drafted in the 2008 WHL Bantam Draft. The Bruins selected him in the third round, 51st overall. Holowenko was brought in on the heels of Justin Grevious (89) making his Cents debut is the second half of Friday's 10-4 loss to Salmon Arm. Surely the Centennials wouldn't expect a 16 year old to assume the number one goaltending duties, would they? I've got a feeling that if he performs, age won't mean anything.

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Daniel Chang with the Valencia Flyers

According to the Valencia Flyers of the WSHL, forward Daniel Chang (91) has been carded by the Cents. The article reporting the signing is here. Chang is still with the Centennials, so I wouldn't be surprised if the signing is simply a formality now. Of course a transfer from an American league involves USA Hockey and BC Hockey, so I'm sure the paperwork is in motion. Chang looked very strong in training camp and we'll see if he's ready for the grind of the BCHL season, and ready to put some points up on the board as the Cents need him to do.

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Cents GM and assistant coach Tyler Forsythe confirmed to me that they made a number of cuts after today's game against Westside, but wasn't be willing to go public with those cuts until tomorrow, so I should have an update then.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Cents Pare Roster By Four:

The Cents pared their roster down by four players today with the release of forwards Brent Baltus (92), Shawn Maktaak (92) and Payton Schaefer (93), and defenceman Zach McLellan (92).

With these four releases, the Cents still have 31 players with the team heading into tonight's game in Salmon Arm.

1. Matt Luongo (91) - Grandview (PIJHL)
2. Jake Newman (92) -
3. Joey McEwan (89) - MJHL
4. David Sabey (91) - Columbia Valley (KIJHL)
5. Silvan Harper (92) - Vancouver NE (MML)
6. Colton Sobchak (90) - Cents
7. Kevin Philp (90) - Cents
8. Stephen Wall (91) - Spruce Grove (AJHL)
9. Dustin Johnson (90) - Cents
10. Thomas Hardy (91) - Burnaby (BCHL)
11. Bruce Swakum (91) - Merritt Midgets
12. Daniel Chang (91) - Valencia (WSHL)
13. Michael Nardi (90) - Cents
14. Jordan Hirano (92) - Fernie (KIJHL)
15. Alex Valenti (89) - Cents/North Bay (OJHL)
16. Gary Rai (90) - Cents
17. Jordan Soquila (89) - Cents

Defencemen:

18. Steve Tresierra (90) - Cents
19. Matt Mazzarolo (90) - Cents
20. Brad Bourke (89) - Cents
21. Derek Hills (90) - Powell River (BCHL)
22. Jake Baker (91) - Cents
23. Kameran Crawford (91) - Grand Forks (KIJHL)
24. Ryan Skinner (92) - Thompson Blazers
25. Ryne Bodger (90) - Powell River (BCHL)
26. Jeff Zmurchyk (90) - Trail (BCHL)

Goaltenders:

27. Andrew Hunt (92) - Vancouver Canadians (MML)
28. Michael Tomescu (91) - Abbotsford (PIJHL)
29. Kyle Nielsen (90) - Cents
30. Norbert Biszczak (90) - North Delta (PIJHL)
31. Spencer Bacon (92) - Bradford (GMHL)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cents Release Aynsley & Tomassetti:

There were two player releases after practice today for the Cents, and it wasn't two youngsters that were sent packing, but two veterans. Ryan Aynsley (90) and Alessio Tomassetti (89) are no longer with the team.

The Cents have also added three more players to their roster for the exhibition season. Joey McEwan (89) has joined the team after being released by the Victoria Grizzlies. Also, goaltender Andrew Hunt (92) is with the Cents after he was cut loose by the Swift Current Broncos. And David Sabey (91), who was released by the Vernon Vipers late last week, is also trying to crack the Centennials lineup.

I should be able to post more on these developments later today.

Merritt vs. Penticton Exhibition Game #1:

Here's the summary from last night's 5-1 win over Penticton from the Cents website:

The Merritt Centennials opened their 2009 exhibition season with a 5-1 victory over the Penticton Vees at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena. Five different goal scorers found the back of the net for the Cents, who outshot the Vees 45-27. The two teams meet again Wednesday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton.

Vees 1 at Centennials 5

Scoring Summary

First Period

1. Merritt, Shawn Maktaak (Jordan Soquila, Jake Newman) 6:22

2. Penticton, Stefan Nicolishen (Bob Pond) 11:28

3. Merritt, Jordan Soquila (unassisted) 15:28

Penalties - Baltus Mer (crossing centre ice during warm-up) 0:00, Renner Pen (crossing centre ice during warm-up) 0:00, Schaefer Mer (roughing) 3:17, Schaefer Mer (hooking) 11:51

Second Period

4. Merritt, Colton Sobchak (Shawn Maktaak, Jake Newman) 7:31

Penalties - Tressiera Mer (tripping) 1:26, Boucher Pen (holding) 11:10

Third Period

5. Merritt, Dustin Johnson (Steve Tresierra, Thomas Hardy) 8:56

6. Merritt, Thomas Hardy (Ryan Aynsley, Brent Baltus) 12:36

Penalties - Maktaak Mer (fighting, game misconduct) 5:10, Byron Sorensen Pen (fighting, game misconduct) 5:10, MacLellan Mer (roughing, holding) 9:32, Hepso (roughing) 9:32, Sobchak Mer (fighting, game misconduct) 14:39, Jones Pen (fighting, game misconduct) 14:39, Johnson Mer (boarding, fighting, game misconduct) 17:36, Dolan Pen (instigating, fighting, game misconduct) 17:36

Shots on goal by

Penticton 11 5 11 - 27

Merritt 15 12 18 - 45

Goal - Penticton: Rumpel; Merritt: Biszczak/Tomescu.

Power plays (goals-chances) - Penticton: 0-4; Merritt: 0-1.

I had the chance to talk to Cents GM Tyler Forsythe after the game...

Cents GM/Assistant Coach Tyler Forsythe

Click here to download

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