Monday, December 28, 2009

Weekly Review, Cents Alumni cont'd:

I know I'm getting to sound a bit like a broken record, but again I apologize for taking so long to post on the blog.

The Cents are riding their first three game winning streak in three seasons and have also vaulted into fifth place in the BCHL's Interior Conference after a win a week ago from Sunday against Prince George. Tomorrow's game against Trail is another huge one as the Cents can put more distance between themselves and the Smoke Eaters, Quesnel and the Spruce Kings with win. For the Week in Review this week, I talked to Centennials head coach and GM Luke Pierce about returning from the Christmas break, the game tomorrow in Trail and preliminary discussions about the January 10th carding deadline.

Cents Coach and GM Luke Pierce

Click here to download

All audio property of Merritt Broadcasting Ltd.

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From just a quick glance, I know of a number of Centennials players I missed on the last alumni update. So I'll try to fill those gaps here.

D Jarret Costello - Arizona State University (ACHA)
F Kevin Lessard - SAIT Trojans (ACAC)
F Graham Fast - Neepawa Natives (MJHL)
F Mike Hanes - Kamloops Storm (KIJHL)
F Brian Kang - Concordia College (NCAA)
F Scott Kirkham - Neepawa Natives (MJHL)
F Kyle L'Arrivee - Mount Royal University (ACAC)
D Ryan Moir - Calgary Canucks (AJHL)
D Blake O'Connor - Geneseo Knights (NCAA)
F Nick Sciangula - Concordia University Stingers (CIS)
D Brett Short - York University (CIS)
G Brad Thiessen - Wheeling Nailers (ECHL)
F Brandon Wong - Quinnipiac Bobcats (NCAA)
F Jordan Zalba - Neumann University (NCAA)

I also had the chance to chat with former Cents tough guy Tyler Barr to get an update on his season with Pensacola of the SPHL. I should be able to have that posted in the next day or two.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ex-Cents featured in THN, Cents Alumni Update:

I have to really apologize for the lack of updates lately. With Christmas Day just a week away, things are CRAZY at the radio station right now. Since I last posted, the Cents posted their first road win of the season 3-2 last Friday in Trail, lost 4-0 at home to Victoria on Tuesday and waxed Salmon Arm 8-4 tonight. Check out the Cents website for a recap of each game.

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(Former Centennials sniper Brandon Wong, now with the Quinnipiac Bobcats)

Two ex-Centennials are mentioned in The Hockey News this week, with Eddy Beers included in an article on page 12 called "Snapshots From Around the NHL" and Brandon Wong featured in an article on page 45 called "U.S. College Prospects Unlimited". Wong is highlighted in the focus on ECAC Hockey.

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(Former Centennials captain Casey Pierro-Zabotel, now with Wheeling of the ECHL)

One other reason why I haven't had the chance to post recently is because I've been working on a MAJOR alumni update to let you know what some former Centennials players have been up to since their time in Merritt. So here goes...

G Spencer Bacon - New England Huskies (EJHL)
G Norbert Biszczak - North Delta Devils (PIJHL)
G Cameron Dagg - Columbia Valley Rockies (KIJHL)
D Jake Baker - Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL)
F Gary Rai - Kamloops Storm (KIJHL)
D Casey Rogers - Golden Rockets (KIJHL)
D Brad Bourke - Prince George Spruce Kings (BCHL)
G Graeme Gordon - Vernon Vipers (BCHL)
G Harrison May - Burnaby Express (BCHL)
G Kyle Nielsen - Prince George Spruce Kings (BCHL)
D Evan Burgess - Fernie Ghostriders (KIJHL)
D Casey Fratkin - Drumheller Dragons (AJHL)
D Curtis Gedig - Vernon Vipers (BCHL)
D Codie Kightley - Portage Voyageurs (ACAC)
D Mike McCance - Kamloops Storm (KIJHL)
D Shane Oatway - Drayton Valley Thunder (AJHL)
D Lee Stone - Arizona State Sun Devils (ACHA)
D Zach Traverse - Fernie Ghostriders (KIJHL)
F Cody Abbey - Revelstoke Grizzlies (KIJHL)
F Jason Alessio - Kamloops Storm (KIJHL)
F Ryan Aynsley - Castlegar Rebels (KIJHL)
F Tyler Barr - Pensacola Ice Flyers (SPHL)
F Spencer Brooks - Portage Voyageurs (ACAC)
F Paul Forster - University of Ottawa Gee Gees (CIS)
F Alex Goodship - Dartmouth College (NCAA)
F David Gore - Thompson Rivers University (BCIHL)
F Jordan Grant - Powell River Kings (BCHL)
F Dylan Herold - Burnaby Express (BCHL)
F Thierry Martine - Kimberley Dynamiters (KIJHL)
F Sean Menton - Oceanside Generals (VIJHL)
F Michael Nardi - North Delta Devils (PIJHL)
F Jose Reyes - Thompson Rivers University (BCIHL)
F Ryan Stanimir - Williams Lake Timberwolves (BCHL)
D Josh Caron - Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
D Rylan Stanyer - Quesnel Millionaires (BCHL)
D Jordan Wilkins - Kamloops Storm (KIJHL)
F Devin Gannon - Salmon Arm Silverbacks (BCHL)
F Chad Gehon - University of Alaska Nanooks (CCHA)
F Tyler Halliday - Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
F Jordon Harrison - Mount Royal University Cougars (ACAC)
F H.T. Lenz - Des Moines Buccaneers (USHL)
F Patrick Rogan - Arizona State Sun Devils (ACHA)
F Jassi Sangha - Thompson Rivers University (BCIHL)
F Jeremy Wagner - Hannover Indians (Germany 2)
D Stephen Margeson - Mississippi River Kings (CHL)
D Steve Weidlich - Mississippi Surge (SPHL)
F Mike Ouellette - MedveŇ°cak Zagreb (Austria)
D Mike Salekin - Victoria Salmon Kings (ECHL)
D Scott Ford - Milwaukee Admirals (AHL)
F Bryan Leitch - Alaska Aces (ECHL)
F Blair Riley - Ferris State University (NCAA)
F Steve Cameron - Mercyhurst College (NCAA)
D Dave Simoes - Mississippi River Kings (CHL)
D Jared Tuton - University of Alaska-Anchorage (NCAA)
F Casey Pierro-Zabotel - Wheeling Nailers (ECHL)
D Alan Mazur - R.I.T. (NCAA)
F Jesse Fratkin - Brown University (NCAA)
F Wade Macleod - Northeastern University (NCAA)
D Cody Butcher - University of Alaska-Fairbanks (NCAA)
F Jacob Verheyden - Quesnel Millionaires (BCHL)
D Paul Levarsky - Surrey Eagles (BCHL)

By all means, feel free to point out any omissions I may have. If possible, please supply a link to where a Cents alumnus is playing or their season stats.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cents fall to Vipers, Holowenko makes WHL debut, Former Cents defenceman Wilkins to KIJHL:

I didn't get to see the game in Vernon, but did listen to it on the radio and it really seems like the Cents didn't play a 60 minute effort again. They were tight with the Vipers through 40 minutes, but the Snakes blew things open in the third period with four goals.

Here's the recap from Tuesday's 7-1 loss in Vernon on Merritt Centennials.com:

Vernon, BC - December 8, 2009

Bryce Kakoske and Connor Jones each had a goal and two assists while Cole Ikkala scored twice for Vernon as the Vipers beat the Merritt Centennials 7-1 in BC Hockey League play Tuesday night.

Mike Collins and Braden Pimm each had two point nights for Vernon (30-2-0-1), while Corey Kane and Adam Thompson also scored.

Dustin Johnson, with his 20th of the season, replied for Merritt (10-22-0-2). Derek Hills and Colton Sobchak got the assists.

Blake Voth made 22 saves to pick up the win for the Vipers. Keith Hamilton stopped 15 shots to take the loss for the Centennials. He was replaced at the 3:02 mark of the third period by affiliate netminder Riley Wall, who allowed two goals on seven Vernon shots.

Merritt went 0-for-4 with the man advantage while Vernon was 1-for-1 on their power play.

The Centennials continue a stretch of five straight road games Friday in Trail while the Vipers are back on home ice Friday for a game against Salmon Arm.

News & Notes: The Cents have surrendered seven goals or more in 14 of 34 games this season...Derek Hills first period assist extended his point streak to six games (3g, 9a)...Alex Valenti was scratched with an undisclosed lower body injury...Ryne Bodger remains at home in Duncan due to illness...Cole Holowenko missed his second straight game as he's still with the WHL's Chilliwack Bruins...The Cents remain winless on the road, with a 0-15-0-2 record.
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Cents goaltender Cole Holowenko made his WHL regular season debut last night in Chilliwack's 5-0 loss to Vancouver. Holowenko played the third period and faced just one shot. He didn't make the save and gave up a goal to Giants forward (and former BCHLer) Gary Nunn. There's still no word on when (or if) Holowenko will return to Merritt, but word is that Lucas Gore is no closer to returning to the lineup from a shoulder injury.
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(Former Cents defenceman Jordan Wilkins)

Former Cents defenceman Jordan Wilkins (90) has joined the KIJHL's Kamloops Storm for the remainder of the season. Wilkins played 15 games with the Centennials during the 2007-08 season after being signed from the WHL's Kootenay Ice. He was traded in August 2008 to Penticton for future considerations. Wilkins, who's from Kelowna, spent last season with St. Albert of the AJHL and Surrey of the BCHL. Word is that the Storm have been trying on and off to get him to join their program for the last four years. Wilkins has also played 59 games in the WHL. He's currently enrolled at TRU and will make his KIJHL debut tomorrow in Princeton.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Cents fall 6-5 in double OT to, Hills almost POW, Holowenko to WHL, Minor Hockey:

Wow. Another tough loss for the Cents after battling back to tie the game. Comebacks seem to be the name of the game for Merritt on the road, but in the last four games the Centennials have just come up short. Their three game Northern road trip culminated with a 6-5 loss in double overtime to Prince George yesterday afternoon.

Here's the recap from Merritt Centennials.com:

Prince George, BC - December 6, 2009

Justin Fillion scored 2:12 into double overtime to give the Prince George Spruce Kings a 6-5 edge over the Merritt Centennials in BC Hockey League Sunday afternoon.

Marcus Watson scored a goal and added three assists, Sam Muchalla had two goals and an assist while Brooks Robinson notched a goal and two assists for Prince George (12-19-1-2). Nick DeSousa also added a single in regulation for the Spruce Kings.

Derek Hills had a goal and three assists for Merritt (10-21-0-2), while Colton Sobchak scored twice and added an assist in the loss. Stephen Wall also had a goal and two assists for the Centennials. Jordan Soquila scored on a penalty shot in the second period and Mitch Jones notched two assists.

Former Centennials netminder Kyle Nielsen made 27 saves for Prince George in the win, while Keith Hamilton kicked out 47 saves for Merritt in the loss. The Spruce Kings outshot the Cents 5-3.

Merritt and PG each went 0-for-4 with the man advantage.

The Centennials next game is Tuesday in Vernon while the Spruce Kings return to the ice Friday at home against Alberni Valley.

News & Notes: The Cents are now winless in 16 games away from the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena this season...Derek Hills' four-point afternoon has him riding a five game point streak. He has 11 points during the streak...Stephen Wall's three-point afternoon was his first multi-point game since Sept. 29...Cents captain Jordan Soquila is on a six game streak, he has nine points in that stretch...Merritt was without 16-year-old Cole Holowenko after he was called up by the WHL's Chilliwack Bruins.
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(Cents utilityman Derek Hills)

Cents defenceman Derek Hills, who's played up front and on the blueline this season, was named a runner up for BCHL Player of the Week after posting eight points in three games. As mentioned above, Hills is on fire lately, firing 11 points during a five game point streak. You have to wonder if the Cents would have posted three wins during the three games if we'd be talking about Hills being Player of the Week for the second time this season, instead of Mark Zengerle.
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(Cents netminder Cole Holowenko)

Had the chance to see Cents goaltener Cole Holowenko on Rogers Sportsnet yesterday as he backed up Braden Gamble in the Chilliwack Bruins 4-0 WHL shutout of the Vancouver Giants. Holowenko was called up by the Bruins after Saturday's Cents game in Quesnel. With Bruins number-one goaltender Lucas Gore out with a shoulder injury, it remains to be seen if Holowenko will stay in Chilliwack or if he'll be on his way back to Merritt. I hope to ask Cents coach and GM Luke Pierce that exact question when I get his weekly wrap first thing tomorrow morning.
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I received this email late yesterday from Tammy Bangsund, PR director for Merritt Minor Hockey. Way to go boys! You'll notice a couple of familiar names here as some of these guys were in training camp with the Cents.

The Tracker Sportswear Midget Rep boys played 2 games this weekend, winning both!

Saturday Dec 5th travelled to Revelstoke and won 9-2. Scorers were: Daylan Robertson 3, Eric Schmidt 2, Kyle Robichaud, Payton Schaefer, Cole Fex & Garret Bangsund all with 1 goal each. Russell Sanderson did an outstanding job between the pipes!

Sunday Dec 6th vs Westside at NVM Arena winning 8-1! Michael DeSimone did an awesome job of netminding. Scorers were: Eric Schmidt 4, Brendan Colter 2, Liam Ouellette & Cole Drennan with 1 each.

Next up for the Tracker Boys is a 3 day tourney in Williams Lake Dec 11-13th. Current league stats for the team are 8 wins, 1 tie & 2 loses.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Cents outgunned 8-7 in Quesnel:

Another heartbreaking one goal loss for the Cents on the road as they fell 8-7 in Quesnel. The silver lining to the dark cloud that is a 15 game road winless streak, is that the Centennials outscored the Millionaires 6-3 over the final 40 minutes. If not for a shaky first period, the result in this game could have been much different.

Here's the recap of the game from Merritt Centennials.com:

Quesnel, BC - December 5, 2009

Joshua Desmarais scored twice as the Quesnel Millionaires hung on the beat the Merritt Centennials 8-7 in BC Hockey League action Saturday night.

Taylor Holst had three assists for Quesnel (11-19-0-4), while Trever Hertz and Clayton Chessa each had a goal and two assists. Jacob Verheyden, Spencer Graboski, Skyler Smutek and Eliot Raibl also each notched a single marker in the win.

Jeff Jones scored twice for Merritt (10-21-0-1) and chipped in with two assists. Dustin Johnson had a goal and two assists while Derek Hills and David Sabey each had a goal and an assist. Jordan Soquila and Alexander MacMillan dished out two assists each. Colton Sobchak and Alex Valenti had the other Cents goals.

Kirby Halcrow stopped 27 shots for the Millionaires for the win, while Keith Hamilton, who came on in relief of Cole Holowenko at the start of the second period, made 19 saves in the loss.

Merritt went 2-for-5 on the power play while Quesnel was 2-for-3 with the man advantage.

The Cents next action is Sunday in Prince George while the Mills play Wednesday at home against Williams Lake.

Game Box Score

News & Notes: The Cents, despite the loss, had just seven players not appear on the scoresheet...Alex Valenti returned to the lineup after missing Friday's game in Williams Lake...Mitch Jones also returned to the lineup after missing three games...Merritt battled back from 6-1, 7-2 and 8-4 deficits, but never held the lead during the game...The Cents road winless streak now stands at 15 games...The loss is Merritt's third straight one-goal defeat on the road...It was announced prior to the game that Cole Holowenko has been called up by the WHL's Chilliwack Bruins on an emergency basis...Jeff Jones is now tied for fourth among all BCHL rookies in goals with 13...Andrew Pickering is now riding a five game point streak...Daniel Chang has a three game assist streak.

Cents edged 4-3 in Williams Lake:

Here's the recap on last night's game from Merritt Centennials.com:

Williams Lake, BC - December 4, 2009

Williams Lake's Darren Tarasoff scored a pair of goals as the Timberwolves topped the Merritt Centennials 4-3 in BC Hockey League action Friday.

The loss drops the Cents to 10-20-0-1, while the T-wolves improve to 8-19-0-1.

Cameron Hoffman and Danny Merth also scored for Williams Lake.

Jeff Jones, Jordan Soquila and Derek Hills replied for Merritt. Hills also added an assist for the Cents lone multi-point performance.

Richard Virtanen stopped 35 shots to pick up the win for the Timberwolves, while Keith Hamilton made 37 saves in taking the loss for the Centennials.

Merritt finished the night 1-for-6 on the power play. Williams Lake went 3-for-7 with the man advantage.

The Centennials will try to snap their 14 game road winless streak Saturday in Quesnel. The Timberwolves are back in action Saturday on home ice against Westside.

News & Notes: Lucas Blinkhorn and Caleb Roy made their Centennials debuts as affiliate players from the KIJHL's Revelstoke Grizzlies...Blinkhorn assisted on Derek Hills' third period power play goal...Keith Hamilton made his first goaltending start in more than month after sitting out with an illness...Mitch Jones missed his third straight game with a sore wrist...Alex Valenti was scratched with an undisclosed lower body injury and is listed as day-to-day...Valenti's injury forced the Cents to play with only 10 regular forwards.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Cents add AP Lucas Blinkhorn:


(Revelstoke Grizzlies captain Lucas Blinkhorn)

The Cents have added another affiliate player from the KIJHL's Revelstoke Grizzlies for the road trip this weekend in Williams Lake, Quesnel and Prince George. It's Grizzlies captain Lucas Blinkhorn (89).

Blinkhorn is fourth in KIJHL scoring with 16 goals and 24 assists in 27 games for Revelstoke. He spent some time with Vernon last season as an AP, but didn't get into any games with the Vipers.

I had the chance to chat with Centennials coach and GM Luke Pierce yesterday ahead of their northern road trip this weekend.

Cents Coach and GM Luke Pierce

Click here to download

All audio property of Merritt Broadcasting Ltd.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Former Centennial Riley Named CCHA Player of the Month:


(Former Cents forward Blair Riley)

Ferris State University men's ice hockey senior Blair Riley (Kamloops, British Columbia) has been chosen as this week's (Nov. 23) Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) Offensive Player of the Week, which was released this Monday by the league office.

Riley compiled a combined team-high tying best six points in Ferris State's two-game league series sweep of Ohio State this last weekend (Nov. 20-21) at FSU's Ewigleben Ice Arena in Big Rapids, Mich. The left winger recorded his second career hat trick with three goals in last Friday's (Nov. 20) 8-1 series-opening win over Ohio State en route to a four-point (3-1=4) night. Riley then followed the notable performance up in Saturday's (Nov. 21) come-from-behind 6-5 overtime victory over the Buckeyes with a goal and an assist. His helper came on the game-tying power-play goal by Cody Chupp (Big Rapids) with 50.3 seconds remaining in regulation to send the contest into overtime.

This season, Riley has accumulated a team-leading 16 points on a squad-best 12 goals and four assists to go with a plus six efficiency rating in 14 contests. The 6-0, 220-pound forward has also totaled three power-play lamplighters, two short-handed markers, and five blocked shots this campaign. Riley has chalked up six multiple-point game efforts this season to date. Nationally, Riley is listed fourth in goals per game (0.86 gpg.) and is tied for 39th place in points per game (1.14 ppg.).

Riley has presently generated 65 points on 36 goals and 29 assists in 121 career outings. He has generated 14 power-play goals, two short-handed markers, two game-winning tallies, and 29 blocked shots during his FSU career.

Riley's league honor represents the fourth Bulldog skater to receive such recognition this season. He joins junior Zach Redmond (Traverse City), who attained CCHA Defenseman of the Week kudos (Oct. 26), along with freshman center Travis Ouellette (Windsor, Ontario) and sophomore Brett Wysopal (LaGrange Park, Ill.). Ouellette garnered league Rookie of the Week laurels while Wysopal achieved Defensive Player of the Week kudos the same week (Nov. 9).

Cents add AP Caleb Roy, Luke Pierce Audio:

The Cents have added defenceman Caleb Roy (89) from the KIJHL's Revelstoke Grizzlies for their northern road trip this weekend. Roy, who leads all Grizzlies defenceman in scoring with 31 points in 27 games, was an affiliate with the Vernon Vipers in 2005-06. He is second in scoring among blueliners in the KIJHL. It'll be interesting to see how much of an impact he has with the Cents. With Mitch Jones still out with an injury, I would think that Roy will play a regular shift.

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The website that I use to host all the audio I post here was having issues the other day so I wasn't able to post the interview I did with Cents head coach and GM Luke Pierce regarding the three moves the team made at the December 1st carding deadline.

Somehow the issues have been resolved, so without any further adieu, here are Luke's thoughts on the moves the Centennials did make and almost made on December 1st:

Cents Coach and GM Luke Pierce

Click here to download

All audio property of Merritt Broadcasting Ltd.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cents Release Joey McEwan and Kevin Philp:

The Centennials didn't make any major trades at the December 1st carding deadline, but they did move a couple of players from their roster.


(Former Cents forward Joey McEwan)

The Cents have released forward Joey McEwan (89) from their roster. The Kelowna product played in 24 games this season for Merritt, chipping in with two assists. He was also fourth in the BCHL in penalty minutes with 87. McEwan had one more game to serve in a suspension he received for hitting Alberni Valley goaltender Frank Slubowski in a 3-2 loss last week. Luke Pierce mentioned in my interview that Joey is a great kid and it was a very difficult decision to make, but I would think that being a 20-year-old enforcer doesn't offer a whole lot of job security. In fact, the Cents were Joey's second team this season, he was released by Victoria during training camp after being acquired by the Grizzlies during the summer.


(Former Cents forward Kevin Philp)

The Cents have also released forward Kevin Philp (90) from their roster. I know Kevin had questions about whether he wanted to continue his hockey career at the end of last season, but he was encouraged by the changes made at the administrative level by the Cents and decided to return to the team this season. He suffered an injury in training camp and didn't play in any exhibition games before making his season debut on opening night. He then hurt his shoulder and word was he'd be out until the new year with the injury. Ultimately, Kevin decided to hang up the skates at the BCHL level. He's got a girlfriend here in Merritt and likes the community, so he's still seen around the Cents games. The 19-year-old wraps up his BCHL career with 18 points in 43 games. He spent 41 of those games in Merritt after playing two games with Victoria last season. Philp spent the 2007-08 season with Saskatoon of the WHL after being a 7th round Bantam pick by the Blades.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Penner On The Move Again:


(Cole Penner with the WHL's Prince Albert Raiders)

The much-traveled Cole Penner is on the move again as his junior 'A' rights have been traded by the Cents to the Camrose Kodiaks of the AJHL for future considerations.

The Cents acquired Penner (91) from Grand Prairie back in September for Matt Cumming and although the former first round WHL bantam draft pick was in Merritt earlier this season, he didn't play a game with the Centennials and promptly went home to await another trade after supposedly deciding he didn't want to play in the Nicola Valley. In the meantime, his WHL rights were traded by Prince Albert to Chilliwack for a 12th round bantam draft pick in 2010.

And although he hasn't appeared with the Bruins yet, Boris Rybalka will try to convince the former highly touted prospect to join his AJHL team in Camrose.

As for the futures coming to Merritt, if I were to wager a guess, I'm thinking it's cash coming to the Centennials, but there might be a player involved. We'll have to wait until the end of the season to find out.

Cents Weekly Recap, December 1st Deadline:

New Cents coach and GM Luke Pierce indicated to me that he was interested in being a weekly guest on my Tuesday morning show, so I said "Why not?" Here's the first installment of the feature as Luke talks about the Cents wins last week over Williams Lake and Quesnel and today's 6 p.m. Hockey Canada carding deadline:

Cents Coach and GM Luke Pierce

Click here to download

All audio property of Merritt Broadcasting Ltd.