Monday, November 30, 2009

Cents squeak by Quesnel, Merritt Bantam Reps:

What a thriller between the Cents and Quesnel on Saturday night! And what a crowd, arguably the biggest I have seen in seven years at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena saw a ton of lead changes before Jeff Zmurchyk played hero with the tying and winning goals. Here's the recap from Merritt

Jeff Zmurchyk scored the tying goal with 1:32 left in the third period and the winner 3:47 into overtime as the Merritt Centennials came back to defeat the Quesnel Millionaires 7-6 in BC Hockey League action before 926 fans at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena Saturday night.

Silvan Harper and Jeff Jones scored twice each and Dustin Johnson also added a single and an assist for Merritt (10-19-0-1). Jordan Soquila chipped in with three assists while Steve Tresierra, Andrew Pickering, Daniel Chang, Alex Valenti, Stephen Wall and Kameran Crawford each also had a single assist. Cole Holowenko stopped 33 shots in net for the Centennials.

Trever Hertz notched two goals and an assist for Quesnel (10-18-0-4) while Sam Higgins, Spencer Graboski and Jacob Verheyden each had a goal and assist for the Mills in the loss. Eliot Raibl also scored for Quesnel. Netminder Kirby Halcrow stopped 45 shots.

The Centennials went 2-for-8 on the power play while the Millionaires were 2-for-9.

Merritt's next action is Friday night in Williams Lake while Quesnel's next game is also Friday. The Mills are home to Westside.

News & Notes: Silvan Harper's goal at 12:53 of the first period brought the teddy bears onto the ice and all stuffed animals will be donated to needy kids in the Nicola Valley ... Andrew Pickering's assist has him on a five game point streak ... Dustin Johnson's goal has him on a two game goal-scoring streak and seventh in the BCHL in goals ... The Cents are now 10-7 on home ice, which is fourth best in the Interior Conference.


I received this email this morning from Shane Sanderson, the coach of the Murray GM Bantam Rep team in Merritt, who hosted a tournament this weekend:

We blew it in the final. The boy's got out worked by Penticton. We need to work on playing for full 60 minutes and we have the potential to be one of the best Bantam teams around.

The tournament was awesome our parents and coaching staff, arena staff and refs did an awesome job to promote our town and hockey. The overtime win at the Cents game was a nice bonus to the weekend. The skills competition brought a lot of comradery amongst the teams. It was nice to see.

Our first game we dominated Seattle 10-1.

We then beat Squamish 6-3.

We then beat Lagley 5-2.

We lost the final against Penticton 4-2 giving up an empty net goal.


It was an amazing weekend in Merritt, with a bunch of different highlights for me, but one of the biggest was getting to meet the Olympic mascots! Quatchi, Sumi and Miga are the best!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Cents romp over Williams Lake, Santa Claus Parade, Teddy Bear Toss:

Here's the recap of last night's 7-3 win over Williams Lake from Merritt

Alexander MacMillan had three goals and Colton Sobchak added two goals and two assists as the Merritt Centennials snapped their five game losing streak with a 7-3 win over the Williams Lake Timberwolves on Thursday night in the BC Hockey League.

Dustin Johnson and Steve Tresierra, with his first as a Centennial, each added singles for Merritt (9-19-0-1) while Jeff Zmurchyk and Derek Hills chipped in with two assists each.

Trent Murdoch had a goal and an assist for the Timberwolves (6-18-1-0) while Jason Diehl and Cameron Hoffman each added singles.

Cole Holowenko made 31 saves in goal for the Cents for his fourth win of the season. Sean Donnelly stopped 37 shots in the Williams Lake goal.

Merritt was 0-for-3 on the power play. The T-Wolves went 1-for-6.

The Centennials next game is Saturday at home against Quesnel. Williams Lake visits Penticton Friday night.

News & Notes: Thursday marked the head coach and GM debut for Luke Pierce, who was promoted from his assistant coach's position on Wednesday, replacing Dylan and Tyler Forsythe ... Former Vernon Vipers assistant Maury Grant has stepped in as an assistant coach for Pierce on an interim basis ... Mitch Jones missed the game with an upper body injury, he's currently listed as week-to-week ... Joey McEwan sat out the first of his three game suspension after receiving a match penalty in Sunday's 3-2 loss in Alberni Valley.

I also had the chance to speak to Luke Pierce immediately following his first career BCHL head coaching victory last night.

Cents interim Coach and GM Luke Pierce

Click here to download

All audio property of Merritt Broadcasting Ltd.


Tonight is Merritt's annual Santa Claus Parade starting at 7 p.m. The Centennials have teamed up with the Merritt Junior Girls team for their float. The parade itself is one of the biggest nighttime Christmas parades in North America. Close to 80 floats (or more) from all over Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest have registered to be in Merritt!

Tomorrow is also the opening of Merritt's Spirit Square. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Q101 gang (minus me, I'll be on-location at Murray GM) will be at the Spirit Square for our first annual "Five Buck Bear" fundraiser. Here's how it works:

1) We sell you a stuffed animal for $5.
2) For buying a stuffed animal, we give you a ticket to the Cents game against Quesnel.
3) You take your ticket and stuffed animal to the game and throw it on the ice when the Cents score their first goal.
4) The Cents donate the toys to needy kids in the Nicola Valley.
5) We donate all the proceeds from the stuffed animals sold to the Merritt Soup Kitchen's Christmas dinner.

It's a win-win situation! Of course, if you can't make it to our fundraiser, just bring your own stuffed animals to the game and get ready to toss them!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Q&A with Luke Pierce, McEwan Suspended:

I had the chance to talk with Cents interim head coach and GM Luke Pierce this morning ahead of tonight's game at home against Williams Lake.

Although one of the youngest coaches in the BCHL, Luke was always a leader as a player and was even named captain at RMC while playing there.

It'll be interesting to see what effect this has on a Centennials team, which a number of people in this community believe has been underachieving.

Luke and I didn't touch so much on the circumstances behind his promotion, but more what impact he'll have in the new roles.

Cents interim Coach and GM Luke Pierce

Click here to download

All audio property of Merritt Broadcasting Ltd.


Cents forward Joey McEwan will sit out the first of his three game suspension tonight for receiving a match penalty in Sunday's 3-2 loss against Alberni Valley. McEwan got the gate at 19:14 of the first period for hitting Bulldogs goaltender Frank Slubowski. He'll be eligible to return for next Saturday's game in Quesnel.


Former Cents forward Jacob Verheyden is back in BC after being acquired by Quesnel from the Winnipeg Saints of the MJHL for future considerations. Verheyden was first picked up the Saints from the Dauphin Kings before being flipped to the Mills. He's expected to play Saturday when Quesnel visits Merritt. The 20-year-old from Vancouver had 6 points in 66 games with the Cents as a 16-17-year-old during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Forsythe Brothers Out:

I've received word that head coach/assistant GM Dylan Forsythe and GM/assistant coach Tyler Forsythe are no longer with the Centennials. I don't know at this time whether the two brothers resigned or were dismissed and reportedly Luke Pierce will take over on an interim basis as head coach and GM. No word on who his assistant coaches may be. I will definitely have more on this story as it develops.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Former Cents prospect Asuchak traded in the WHL:

18-year-old forward Spencer Asuchak, who was signed by the Centennials in June of 2008, was traded yesterday in the Western Hockey League. The Tri-City Americans dealt the Kamloops product to Prince George for a 13th round pick in the 2010 bantam draft.

Asuchak has four points in 12 games this season after posting seven points in 38 games in his first WHL season last year with the Ams. In 2007-08, he had 21 points in 31 games with the Major Midget Thompson Blazers. He was scheduled to attend Centennials training camp in September 2008, but made Tri-City after attending their camp and never wound up coming to Merritt.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cents Road Trip, News & Notes:

OK, here we go again with a HUGE apology. I'm sorry I haven't been able to be as interactive on the blog as hoped. With the holiday season getting closer, you can imagine that things are getting busier at the radio station. So I appreciate you bearing with me and I appreciate your continued reading.

Now, onto the hockey... the Centennials wrapped up their road trip this afternoon in Port Alberni against the Bulldogs and although they didn't win and their road winless streak is now 13 games to start the season, there certainly appear to be some positives to take out of the effort.

Here's the recap of the game from Merritt

Casey Bailey scored what would be the winning goal at 17:09 of the second period Sunday afternoon as the Alberni Valley Bulldogs extended the Merritt Centennials road winless streak to 13 games with a 3-2 win.

Mitch MacMillan and David Dziurzynski also tallied for Alberni Valley (17-8-1-2) while Frank Slubowski made 29 saves.

Jordan Soquila and Andrew Pickering had markers for Merritt (8-19-0-1), while affiliate goaltender Riley Wall stopped 43 shots to earn third star honours.

The Centennials return to action Thursday at home against Williams Lake while the Bulldogs hit the ice Friday at home against Victoria.

Thursday's game for Merritt is the first of two food bank nights, so all fans are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to donate to the Nicola Valley & District Food Bank for families in need this holiday season.


There are complete recaps of each game from the road trip on the Cents website so I'm not going to go into great detail here, but it seems that the Centennials players need to start believing in themselves when they don't have the fans behind them on the road. We saw flashes of that belief in Cowichan, Victoria and definitely Alberni Valley, but the Cents need to share that belief, buy into the system and play for each other each and every single shift, regardless of the score. Watch Vernon, that's exactly what they do.


Former Cents forward Gary Rai (90), who was released by the team earlier this season and hadn't been playing anywhere, has landed with Kamloops of the KIJHL. In fact, Rai has three points (1g,2a) in two games with the Storm so far this weekend. He's got a ton of size and skill, but most will say that Rai needs to have the passion and the willingness to do anything to win for both his team and his teammates in order to be successful. It remains to be seen whether Rai plays out the season in Kamloops or if he's hoping to use the KIJHL as a stepping stone to another Junior 'A' team.


For Centennials fans who were holding out hope that fan favourite Tyler Halliday (89) would be returning to the BCHL after being waived by Prince George of the WHL, it ain't gonna happen. Halliday is staying in the Dub after Kelowna plucked him off waivers from the Cougars. PG had too many 20-year-olds and one had to go. They decided it was Halliday and as a result the Rockets just got a bit peskier to play against. In fact, the Kamloops product already has one assist in two games so far for Kelowna. For the record, it is still Merritt which holds Halliday's Junior 'A' rights.


I received the following Merritt Minor Hockey results via email this morning:

Tracker Sportswear MMHA Midget Rep vs Kelowna Rockets Midget Rep (1st place team in league) in Kelowna.

Friday Nov 20th-won 2-1 Cole Drennan & Tyler O'Hearn scored.
Saturday Nov 21st-lost 6-1 Eric Schmidt scored goal.

Next home games Sat Nov 28 7pm Shulus vs Penticton & Sun Nov 29 1230pm Shulus vs Summerland.


The Bantam Rep boys beat Kelowna 5-3. Brody Tod and Dallas Grismer-Voght both got two
and Malik Miller got one. We had few penalties and the boys all played well. We are now 4-1-1 on the season.

We have our home tournament next weekend with teams from all over including
Seattle. It should be a lot of fun.

Thanks to Tammy and Shane for the results! Keep up the good work!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Merritt Bantam Reps:

I received this email this morning from Shane Sanderson, the coach of the Merritt Bantam Rep team:

The Bantam Rep Team only had one game this weekend and we beat Clearwater 12-2.

Nolan Prowel had a five goal game. Wow!
Zack Sanderson had two and Dallas Grismer-Voght also added a pair.
Bryce Dixon and Malik Miller notched singles.

Griffin Baillie got the win in goal.

Our boys have a real tough challenge next weekend when we play Kelowna. They
will be the team to beat.

Thanks guys,

Friday, November 13, 2009

Merritt vs. Langley 13-11-09:

Here's the recap of tonight's HUGE win against Langley from Merritt

Merritt, BC - November 13, 2009

Forward Daniel Chang scored his first career BC Hockey League goal Friday, helping the Merritt Centennials to a 4-3 overtime victory against the Langley Chiefs at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.

Dustin Johnson, with two, and Jordan Soquila also scored for the Centennials (8-14-0-1).

Dennis Robertson, Brandon Thompson and Tim Daly replied for Langley (13-9-1-2).

Merritt goaltender Cole Holowenko stopped 41 shots, while Chiefs netminder Andrew Walsh turned aside 39.

The Centennials went 0-for-5 on the power play in the win while Langley was 1-for-5 with the man advantage. The Chiefs held a marginal 44-43 advantage over Merritt on the shot clock.

For the Cents, it's their first win of the season against an opponent from the Coastal Conference.

These two teams meet again Saturday night at the Langley Events Centre. It marks the first of five straight games on the road for the Centennials.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Former Centennial Salekin Signs with ECHL's Salmon Kings:

(Mike Salekin with the University of Alabama-Huntsville)

Former Cents defenceman Mike Salekin has returned to his home province after signing with the Victoria Salmon Kings of the ECHL.

Here's the official release from the Kings:

Victoria, BC - The Victoria Salmon Kings, proud affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks and Manitoba Moose, announced today that they have signed defenseman Mike Salekin for the 2009-10 season.

The Castlegar, BC native joins the Salmon Kings after playing five games this season for the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs of the Central Hockey League (CHL) where he scored one goal and added 28 minutes in penalties.

The 6-0, 208 lb. defenseman spent the 2008-09 season in the ECHL split between the Reading Royals, Stockton Thunder, and Cincinnati Cyclones. Salekin began the year in Reading where he scored six points (2g-4a) in 10 games while tallying 22 minutes in penalties. Following a trade to Stockton, Salekin dressed for 12 games with the Thunder scoring two goals and accumulating 30 penalty minutes. A second trade from Stockton to Cincinnati saw the blueliner finish the season with the Cyclones scoring 19 points (5g-14a) in 33 games while serving 96 minutes in penalties. Salekin also participated in all 11 of Cincinnati's Kelly Cup Playoff games this past spring accruing no points and 31 penalty minutes.

The 24-year-old Salekin began his professional career in 2007-08 with a full season in the ECHL with Reading. In 49 games played he amassed four goals and nine assists for 13 points with 183 penalty minutes. Salekin also dressed for 11 Kelly Cup playoff games with Reading in 2007-08 registering two points (1g-1a) and 34 minutes in penalties.

For his professional career, the defenseman has scored 41 points (14g-27a) in 109 games played while accruing 359 penalty minutes.

Prior to turning professional, Salekin spent three seasons in the NCAA with the University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH). In 99 career games as a Charger he scored 17 goals and assisted on 32 others for 49 points with 205 minutes in penalties. Salekin also helped lead the Chargers to a conference title in 2007 and a berth in the NCAA Championship tournament. During his time in the NCAA Salekin was named the team's best defenseman (2006-07), nominated to the All-Conference second team (2006-07), and was awarded the University's Bronze Scholar award (2003-04, 2004-05, 2005-06).

Before joining the UAH Salekin spent two seasons (2001-02 and 2002-03) in the British Columbia Junior Hockey League (BCJHL) with the Merritt Centennials where he scored 79 points (31g-48a) in 104 total games with 395 penalty minutes. In his first year in Merritt, Salekin was selected as the team's rookie of the year, and was the runner-up in the BCHL's best first-year player award. The defensemen spent his second year as a Centennial's alternate captain, and led the BCHL in points per game by a defenseman.

Salekin began his junior hockey career in 2000-01 playing one game for the Western Hockey League's Kootenay Ice. The defenseman scored no goals with two penalty minutes.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cents vs. Vernon 11-10-09:

I really apologize for the lack of posting lately, it hasn't been due to lack of trying, but having a 14 month old running around the house doesn't leave much time for working on the computer. Plus, I'm working on a MAJOR Cents alumni update that I hope to have posted before the end of the weekend.


The Cents lost 6-1 to the Vipers tonight. Here's the recap from Merritt

Merritt, BC - November 10, 2009

Former Centennial Graeme Gordon made 28 saves for Vernon as the Vipers beat Merritt 6-1 in BC Hockey League action Tuesday at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.

Rob Short had two goals to lead the way for the Vipers (22-1-0-0), while Dan Nycholat and Dylan Walchuk each had two points in the win.

Cory Kane, Jonathan Milhouse and Adam Thompson also scored for Vernon.

Mitch Jones, with his first in the BCHL, had the lone goal for the Cents (7-14-0-1) and Cole Holowenko made 37 saves in defeat for Merritt.

The Cents went 0-for-3 on the power play while Vernon was 3-for-6 with the man advantage.

The Centennials next action is Friday as they close out a five game home stand in the first half of a home-and-home series against Langley. Vernon's next game is at home against the Trail Smoke Eaters.


The Cents have added 92-born defenceman Austin Baecker (pronounced Baker) to their roster and he made his debut in a Merritt uniform tonight against the Vipers. Baecker is an 11th round bantam draft pick of the WHL's Lethbridge Hurricans and played last season with the Okanagan Rockets of the BC Major Midget League where he posted 5 goals and 14 assists and 42 PIM in 40 games.