Sunday, March 28, 2010

Interview with coach Luke Pierce and Lots of Alumni News:

I had the chance to have Cents coach and GM Luke Pierce on the air a couple of weeks ago to talk about how things were coming together for Spring Camp.

Cents Head Coach & GM Luke Pierce

Click here to download

All audio property of Merritt Broadcasting Ltd.

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(Former Cents defenceman Cody Butcher)

I also chatted with former Cents defenceman Cody Butcher prior to the Centennials playoff series against Penticton. Butcher, who's in his sophomore year at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and is joined on the Nanooks by another former Centennial in Chad Gehon, was a member of the last Merritt team to qualify for the playoffs in 2006-07.

UAF Nanooks defenceman Cody Butcher

Click here to download

All audio property of Merritt Broadcasting Ltd.

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(Former Cents MVP Brandon Wong)

Former Cents player Brandon Wong signed an amateur tryout with the Grand Rapids Griffins last week after his final season at Quinnipiac University came to an end. So far Wong's been a healthy scratch in three straight games as he gets adjusted to the pro game. Here's the official release from the Griffins:

GRIFFINS SIGN BRANDON WONG

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins on Tuesday signed forward Brandon Wong to an amateur tryout.

Wong, 23, recently finished his senior season at Quinnipiac University (ECAC), where he paced the Bobcats with 19 goals and 41 points, tied for fourth in the league in scoring, and led NCAA Division I with 14 power play goals. A 2010 Hobey Baker Memorial Award nominee, he finished his collegiate career as the third-highest leading scorer among active Division 1 players with 143 points (68-75—143).

A native of Victoria, British Columbia, Wong also led Quinnipiac in scoring as both a freshman and sophomore. He was named the ECAC Hockey Co-Rookie of the Year and runner-up for the National Rookie of the Year Award in 2006-07, when he ranked first in the ECAC with a career-high 27 goals and first nationally with three hat tricks.

After skating in his first practice with the Griffins today, Wong will be available to make his pro debut on Thursday when Grand Rapids wraps up its season-high six-game road trip in Milwaukee at 8 p.m. EDT.

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(Former Cents defenceman Alan Mazur)

Former Cents defenceman Alan Mazur is part of a pretty special team at RIT as the Tigers are one win away from a spot in the Frozen Four NCAA Championship tournament. You can read the latest on Mazur's RIT squad here.

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Bill Muckalt, who's fourth all-time in points by a Centennials player, has been hired as the first head coach in franchise history for the North American Hockey League's New Mexico expansion team. Here's a portion of the release from the New Mexico website:

The team has hired Bill Muckalt as its first head coach. Muckalt is an eight-year NHL veteran who played for the Ottawa Senators, Minnesota Wild, New York Islanders and Vancouver Canucks. He's also a two-time NCAA Division I champion, having won titles with the University of Michigan (CCHA) in 1996 and 1998.

"I'm excited for the opportunity to be an integral part of building a quality program and putting a quality product on the ice that our fans can enjoy," said Muckalt, who served as head coach of the Western States Hockey League's (WSHL) Valencia (Calif.) Flyers this season. "I'm also excited about working for Ken Dennis because his commitment as an owner and his goals for this program are top-notch."

"Bill will be a huge asset to our program," said Dennis. "As a player, he's a guy who's made it and had success at both the college and professional levels and he'll do everything in his power to make the team successful for our fans."

The Santa Ana Star Center, a $47 million facility, leads the field among venues in New Mexico when it comes to hosting concerts, sporting events, conferences and cultural programs. It boasts 500 club seats and 26 private luxury suites.

"This is an exciting day for the Santa Ana Star Center and the city of Rio Rancho," said Global Spectrum's Gunnar Fox, general manager at the Santa Ana Star Center. "Hockey is back at the Santa Ana Star Center with a team from the NAHL that will provide fans with exciting family entertainment coupled with world-class hockey."

"Rio Rancho is a great market," Dennis added. "Bringing junior hockey to town is something the citizens of New Mexico will appreciate and support."

No stranger to the NAHL having followed the league while living in Michigan two years ago, Muckalt is sold on everything the 25-team circuit has to offer in terms of development and exposure for its players.

"I think it's a great opportunity for student-athletes who are trying to reach their goals of playing college hockey and I'm excited to help these kids realize their dreams, develop them and promote them," he said. "That's the primary goal of our organization, to help guide these young men and promote them to the next level."

A successful product of the NCAA system, Muckalt, who played four years with the Wolverines, is also bullish on the college route.

"I'm a big believer in college hockey and I'm a big believer in post-secondary education," he said. "It's a steppingstone for these kids to do well in the classroom, on the ice, and in the community and that's what NCAA programs are looking for."

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