This is in this week's Merritt News:
John O'Connor - News Editor
If keeping it all in the family is the direction the Merritt Centennials coaching staff is taking, Alberta's Suter family may have a new rival to contend with.
Things worked out for the beleaguered Merritt Centennials last season when they hired local man Luke Pierce. So, why not hire another member of a clan, who seems to have hockey in their blood?
The Merritt Centennials new assistant coach, Chad DeLeeuw, a second cousin to head coach Luke Pierce, says he recognizes the team is in a bit of a rebuilding phase, and says his duties will be more than just on-ice direction.
The Cents' latest addition, a former BCHL defenceman who played for five seasons in the league, will help head coach and general manager Luke Pierce carry out the three-year plan to make the Cents a RBC Cup contender.
“I'm extremely excited about joining the organization,” says DeLeeuw.
“I just want to put in my share of work and effort and hopefully get this team further into the playoffs.”
DeLeeuw brings to the bench 10 years of coaching experience, mostly minor hockey coaching at the rep level, and most notably, a season with the Junior B Summerland Sting of the KIJHL, where he was an assistant coach.
“We're very happy Chad has agreed to join us here in Merritt,” said Pierce.
“I am confident that his knowledge and experience as a dominant defenceman in this league will transfer into his coaching ability.”
DeLeeuw was named the Nanaimo Clippers most improved player in the 1995/1996 season and was runner-up as the BCHL interior conference defenceman of the year award in the 1999/2000 season while playing for the Penticton Panthers.
“Chad brings added enthusiasm to the staff and he relates very well to players. His tremendous leadership abilities are sure to be an asset to our entire organization,” continued Pierce.
“I'm just looking to help these young guys become more confident and better people on and off the ice,” says DeLeeuw.
“They had a good season there last year, especially when Luke took over. So, I just want to continue on from there and hopefully build up a strong contending team, especially for the 40th anniversary.”
DeLeeuw adds that he looks forward to helping develop players off the ice through various community-oriented efforts.
“I'm just looking to help these young guys become more confident and better people on and off the ice.”
Deleeuw's contract begins in August.
The lacrosse season is starting to wind down in the Nicola Valley. I received this email from Shauna Clinging this morning:
Alpha Design Tykes were all honoured with a medal.
Royal LePage Novice Sportsmanship - Fred Ware
Novice Outstanding Athlete - Mac Stead
Novice Most Improved - Parker Finch
Century 21 Pee Wee Sportsmanship - Rahul Chabra
Pee Wee Outstanding Athlete - Cole Tod
Pee Wee Most Improved - Tyrell Suzuki
Contain It Storage Bantam Sportsmanship - Brody Tod
Bantam Outstanding Athlete - Kristian Stead
Bantam Most Improved - Ben Neighbour
Merritt Mountain Towing Midget Sportsmanship - Kenny Hartwig
Midget Outstanding Athlete - Gordie Bowes
Midget Most Improved - Trevor Lindley
Thank you from Nicola Valley Minor Lacrosse Association to all our
sponsor this season and we wish our midgets well at Midget "B" Provincials.
Congrats to all the winners!