Monday, May 31, 2010

Cents Strategic Plan Presention:

Although I had an interview with Cents head coach and GM Luke Pierce about the team's upcoming strategic plan presentation last week, the team officially released this today:

Merritt, BC - May 31, 2010

The Merritt Centennials would like to take this opportunity to invite all fans, volunteers, billets, business people and anyone interested in hockey to our Strategic Plan Presentation on Wednesday, June 9th at 7 p.m. in the mezzanine at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.

The plan begins with the 2010-11 season and runs through the 2012-13 season with the goal set of competing for a national Royal Bank Cup junior 'A' championship.

"We encourage all members of our community, both new and long time residents to come take part in this exclusive presentation," said Cents Head Coach and GM Luke Pierce. "I feel it is a great opportunity to kick off a new era on the right foot."

"By bringing the community inside the operations of our hockey club, we hope to establish a strong and unique connection with the people of the Nicola Valley," Pierce continued. "We are excited to receive feedback from those who are the driving force behind the success of this franchise, the citizens of our community."

- 30 -

For further information, please contact Cents Head Coach and GM Luke Pierce at 250-378-3607.

The Merritt Centennials, proudly celebrating 37 years as the BCHL's longest continuously-run franchise, are a non-profit, community-owned junior 'A' hockey club run by a dedicated team of investors, directors and volunteers.

I really hope that a big crowd turns out for what could end up being a very important meeting for the team and its future.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Cents Forward Daniel Chang Drafted by New Mexico:

(Cents forward Daniel Chang)

I'm not sure how I missed this earlier this week, but Cents forward Daniel Chang was drafted by New Mexico in the 14th round, 192nd overall in the North American Hockey League draft on Wednesday.

Chang was the only selection from the BCHL. However, there is a correlation between the Woodland Hills product and the yet-to-be-named New Mexico franchise. Chang was coached in the 2008-09 season by former Cents sniper Bill Muckalt when both were with the Valencia Flyers of the Western States Hockey League. Now Muckalt is the new coach of the New Mexico team and you have to wonder if he'll try to woo Chang to leave the BCHL and join the NAHL.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pierce Signing Official, Interview Audio:

(Cents Head Coach/GM Luke Pierce)

The Cents have made the signing of Luke Pierce as coach and GM official with the following media release:

Merritt, BC - May 26, 2010

The Merritt Centennials Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Head Coach & GM Luke Pierce has agreed to terms of a three year contract extension through the 2012-13 season.

"This signing is a significant step in achieving our goal of becoming a strong contender in the BCHL," said Cents President Jerry Canuel. "This provides our organization with the stability and long-term focus necessary for success."

"Luke is young, articulate, and understands what it takes to win in our small community of Merritt," continued Canuel. "Luke is well respected in our community and despite his relatively short time in the BCHL, he is also very well respected by other teams and coaches."

"Luke has a passion for the game and he embraces the 'team' attitude and philosophy," expressed Canuel. "Under his guise, we are very encouraged and optimistic about our club's development and growth in Merritt."

"The Centennials Board of Directors felt that with the team's improvement in the latter part of last season along with the enthusiasm and passion Luke has for hockey and our community, it was essential for him to be involved in the future and overall direction of our organization." said Cents Governor and Director of Hockey Operations Brian Barrett.

"I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to continue my young coaching career here in Merritt," said Pierce. "The Centennials and this community have a very special meaning to me not only as a hockey coach, but also as a proud resident of the Nicola Valley."

"My goal for the next three years is to create a culture here with our players that our fans can directly relate to," continues Pierce. "Along with the Board of Directors, my aim is to establish the Centennials as the pride of this city and in time, I believe we will accomplish that."

I had the chance to chat with Luke yesterday after the signing was made official.

Cents Head Coach and GM Luke Pierce

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cents Sign Luke Pierce to a Three Year Contract Extension:

I haven't received an official media release from the Centennials at this point, but the club's Director of Hockey Operations Brian Barrett announced on my morning show today that Head Coach and GM Luke Pierce has been signed to a three year contract extension. Luke took over from Dylan Forsythe last November and led the Cents to their first playoff season in two years, finishing with a record of 14-17-0-1 as head coach.

Cents Governor & Director of Hockey Operations Brian Barrett

I've also been told that the Cents expect to name Luke's assistant coach in the next week or so.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cents Strategic Plan, Soquila Audio:

The Centennials have taken a major step towards stability and credibility by establishing a three year strategic plan for success. The plan sees the team building towards a goal of contending for the RBC Cup in the 2012-13 season. I chatted with Cents coach and GM Luke Pierce about the strategic plan today:

Cents Head Coach and GM Luke Pierce

As Luke mentioned in the interview, the team has a community presentation set for Wednesday June 9 at 7 p.m. in the mezzanine at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena. I really hope that everyone in the community comes out to the presentation. I know the club is hoping for attendance from fans, billets, sponsors, business people, volunteers and anyone else interested in the Cents franchise.


I also had the chance to speak with former Cents captain Jordan Soquila about his recent commitment to Queens University from his home in Maple Ridge:

Cents Graduating Captain Jordan Soquila

Monday, May 24, 2010

Former Cents Coach Kevin MacKay Hired in Salmon Arm:

Kevin MacKay, who coached the Cents briefly during the 2001-02 season, has been hired by the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. MacKay was hired by the Centennials after Mike Vandekamp jumped ship to the Vernon Vipers in 2001. He was then replaced by Al Glendinning midway through the 2001-02 season. Here's the release from the Silverbacks on MacKay's hiring:

The Salmon Arm SilverBacks Junior “A” Hockey Club is pleased to announce that Kevin MacKay will join the hockey operations staff for the upcoming 2010 - 2011season.

Kevin will assume the title of Associate Head Coach/Assistant General Manager. MacKay has spent the last several years coaching in the KIJHL, most recently as the Head Coach/GM of the Kimberley Dynamiters.

Prior to that, Kevin spent time with Hockey Canada as well as being a Head Coach/GM at the Junior “A” level in British Columbia and Alberta.

“To add someone to our staff with Kevin’s credentials is outstanding for the organization and our players. I have known him personally for over 15 years. He knows the league and is a first-class person and coach” commented GM/ Head Coach Rylan Ferster.

For further comments please contact the SilverBacks hockey operations office at 250-832-3856 ext 106.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What's Next for Timberwolves Players?

Now that the BCHL's Governors have decided to suspend the Williams Lake franchise, the status of their sixteen eligible returnees is up in the air. The last time the T-Wolves took a hiatus, their players were dispersed in a draft which was shrouded in secrecy. Here are the players and where they ended up to start the 2007-08 season:

Adam Knopp - Prince George (BCHL)
Tim Holloway - Prince George (BCHL)
Matt Lees - Prince George (BCHL)
Mike Leidl - Quesnel (BCHL)
Kenny Carpenter - Quesnel (BCHL)
Jared Collen - Powell River (BCHL)
Neil Chambers - Powell River (BCHL)
Trevor Wilson - Powell River (BCHL)
Ben Payne - Alberni Valley (BCHL)
Lee Patzer - Alberni Valley (BCHL)
Adam Baldassarre - Alberni Valley (BCHL)
Brian Matte - Cowichan Valley (BCHL)
Warren Muir - Merritt (BCHL)
Dustin Sobchak - Victoria (BCHL)
Alex Evin - Penticton (BCHL)
Raj Toor - Abbotsford (PIJHL)
Joe Vetere - Calgary (AJHL)
Clay Cumiskey - Edmonton (WHL)

I asked BCHL Commissioner John Grisdale about the draft procedure three years ago and he stayed pretty coy on the subject. I'm not saying that the BCHL did things wrong, but I think the fans should know how everything broke down once the dust settled and player's CJHL rights changed hands. Based on a straight standings determination, the teams heading into the dispersal draft should have chosen like this:

1. Quesnel
2. Surrey
3. Alberni Valley
4. Westside
5. Merritt
6. Powell River
7. Langley
8. Burnaby
9. Prince George
10. Salmon Arm
11. Trail
12. Vernon
13. Cowichan Valley
14. Victoria
15. Penticton
16. Nanaimo

Arguably the most sought after player from Williams Lake in 2007 was their goaltender Alex Evin. So the question is, how did Evin get picked up by the second place Penticton Vees when Quesnel had first pick in the dispersal draft? Now that's not to say Mike Leidl wouldn't have been a worthy choice first overall and he very well may have been, but the fact is we don't know. I find it hard to believe that if every carded player on the T-Wolves roster at the end of 2006-07 season was available that Evin would drop all the way to 15th. If Penticton made a trade to move up and take Evin, no problem, but that didn't happen as far as anyone knows.

If each player was released and free to find their own place to play for 2007-08, that's fine too, but there were a number of articles online (including Powell River's own website) that referred to the former Williams Lake players being dispersed in a draft, so it seems clear that's what happened.

Here are the players eligible to return to the BCHL in 2010-11:

F - Trent Murdoch (91)
F - Justin Bardarson (90)
F - Danny Merth (91)
F - Anthony DeLong (91)
F - Keenan Bailey (91)
D - Kyle Beaulieu (91)
D - Jake Harcoff (91)
D - Clayton McEwan (91)
F - Cameron Hoffman (91)
D - Brady Fuller (91)
F - Calvin Johnson (92)
F - Jordan Hirano (92)
F - Tanner Clarkson (93)
D - Stefan Virtanen (92)
F - Cody Wiseman (93)
G - Sean Donnelly (90)

If the BCHL does a true dispersal draft based on standings, here's how the draft order would shake down:

1. Prince George
2. Coquitlam
3. Merritt
4. Trail
5. Quesnel
6. Cowichan Valley
7. Nanaimo
8. Salmon Arm
9. Surrey
10. Langley
11. Victoria
12. Powell River
13. Westside
14. Alberni Valley
15. Penticton
16. Vernon

Regardless which way the sixteen eligible returning players find teams for next year, I only hope that the process is transparent for fans and media to digest.

EDIT: Word is now that there will be no dispersal draft and all of the above players are free to tryout or sign with any team.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cents Captain Jordan Soquila Commits to Queens University:

(Cents captain Jordan Soquila, speaking at the team's annual Icebreaker fundraiser)

So this is the news Luke Pierce was alluding to last week when he mentioned there'd be more news about post-secondary opportunities for a member of last year's Cents team. Here's the release from the team:
Merritt, BC - May 17, 2010

The Merritt Centennials are pleased to announce the commitment of 20 year old forward Jordan Soquila to Queens University of the CIS in Kingston, Ontario for September 2010.

"We are very happy that Jordan has come to such a wise decision regarding his future. His opportunities for success not only in hockey, but also in his future career path are extremely bright after having chosen Queens University. Queens is recognized worldwide as an elite post-secondary institution, and it is a credit to Jordan's work ethic regarding his academics which has given him the opportunity to attend such a prestigious program," said Cents Head Coach and GM Luke Pierce.

"I am a firm believer that the CIS is the perhaps the best kept secret in all of hockey, as the talent level is tremendous and the programs are run with the utmost professionalism," adds Pierce. "Considering all the options Jordan had, I am very pleased that he has chosen a route that is well suited to him and his future goals. We thank him for his leadership and effort during his time here in Merritt and have no doubt that he will be successful throughout his future."

"We are extremely excited that Jordan has chosen Queens to continue his education and pursue his hockey career," said Queens Head Coach Brett Gibson. "He is the type of student athlete who will excel in both the classroom and on the ice. Jordan will be given every opportunity to jump in and contribute right away."

“Queen's engineering program is second to none which made it an easy choice. I feel honoured and excited to be part of the distinguished Queens hockey team and student body,” said Cents captain Jordan Soquila. “I look forward to great success on the ice and in the classroom.”

For further information, please contact Cents Head Coach and GM Luke Pierce at 250-378-3607.

The Merritt Centennials, proudly celebrating 37 years as the BCHL's longest continuously run franchise, are a non-profit, community owned Junior 'A' Hockey Club run by a dedicated team of investors, directors and volunteers.

This morning I talked with Luke about Jordan's commitment to Queens.

Cents Head Coach and GM Luke Pierce

I also talked to Brett Gibson, who is coach of the Golden Gaels at Queens.

Queens University Coach Brett Gibson

All audio property of Merritt Broadcasting Ltd.

I know that Cents fans are extremely proud of Jordan, he represented the franchise so well both on and off the ice. I'm happy to hear from Brett that it looks like Jordan will be given the chance to play a big role with Queens next season.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Thunder In The Valley Lacrosse Tournament:

Special thanks to Shauna Clinging of the Nicola Valley Minor Lacrosse Association for sending along the schedule for their annual "Thunder In The Valley" Midget Tournament this weekend at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.

Here's the email I received from Shauna:

Schedule for Midget B Lacrosse tournament

Pool A Pool B

Merritt Semiahmoo
Burnaby Langley
Saanich Vancouver
West Kootenay Coquitlam

Saturday May 15, 2010
Nicola Valley Memorial
Time Home Team Away Team
8:00-9:30 Burnaby Saanich
9:30-11:00 Semiahmoo Langley
11:00-12:30 West Kootenay Merritt
12:30-2:00 Vancouver Coquitlam
2:00-3:00 Skills
3:00-4:30 Merritt Burnaby
4:30-6:00 Vancouver Semiahmoo

Sunday May 16, 2010
Nicola Valley Memorial
8:00-9:30 Semiahmoo Coquitlam
9:30-11:00 West Kootenay Burnaby
12:00-1:30 4TH in Pool A 4TH in Pool B
1:30-3:00 2ND in Pool B 2ND in Pool A
3:00-4:30 1ST in Pool A 1ST in Pool B

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Bill Birks Hired in Trail, Luke Pierce on Bodger's Commitment, Brad Bourke Commits to Augustana, MSS Senior Girls Rugby:

(Former Cents player and assistant coach Bill Birks)

Late last week, the Trail Smoke Eaters announced the hiring of former Cents player and assistant coach Bill Birks. With the Smokies, Birks will hold the same position of assistant coach that he did for two seasons (2007-09) under Al Glendinning here in Merritt. Shawn Mullin has an interview with Trail coach and GM Jim Ingram (himself a former Cents player) regarding the hiring on his blog.

I had the chance to chat with Bill yesterday morning about the hiring and his move from Merritt to the West Kootenays.

Smokies Assistant Coach Bill Birks

All audio property of Merritt Broadcasting Ltd.

I certainly wish Bill all the best in Trail, except when they're playing the Cents of course!

I also caught up with Cents coach and GM Luke Pierce regarding the commitment of Ryne Bodger to the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota.

Cents Head Coach and GM Luke Pierce

All audio property of Merritt Broadcasting Ltd.

Luke also mentioned to me off the air that there should be some news early next week about one of the Cents other graduating players committing to post-secondary, so stay tuned to Q101 and the blog for more info.


(Former Cents defenceman Brad Bourke)

I was pleased to see that former Cents defenceman Brad Bourke has committed to the University of Alberta at Augustana for the 2010-11 season. Brad was traded to Prince George early last season for Andrew Pickering. The Spruce Kings have the official release here.

Brad mentioned to me last season that education was one of the most important things to him and that he wanted to use his hockey skills to take him as far as he could. At Augustana, he'll be a teammate of one of the most popular Cents players in the last while in Steve Cavanagh. Good luck Brad!


(MSS Senior Girls Rugby Team in action)

I got a phone call this morning from MSS Senior Girls Rugby coach Sue Kabotoff after the Panthers finished their league play this season yesterday. In crossover and league play, the girls went undefeated, way to go and kick butt at the Provincials!

MSS Senior Girls Rugby Team Coach Sue Kabotoff

All audio property of Merritt Broadcasting Ltd.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Bodger Commits to College of St. Scholastica, Nicola Valley Minor Lacrosse Scores:

(Centennials graduating defenceman Ryne Bodger)

Good to see the first of what should be four commitments of graduating Centennials to post-secondary education. The Cents sent out this release today:


Merritt, BC – May 10, 2010

The Merritt Centennials are pleased to announce the commitment of 20 year old defenceman Ryne Bodger to the College of Saint Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota for September 2010.
“We are very excited for Ryne as he embarks on the next stage in his hockey career. I have no doubts that Ryne will be successful at the next level, as he was a pleasure to work with here in Merritt and his abilities will allow him every opportunity to succeed,” said Cents head coach and GM Luke Pierce.

Pierce adds, “This also represents the beginning of what we are aspiring to accomplish here in Merritt which is to provide all graduating athletes with an opportunity to further not only their hockey career but their education as well. On behalf of the entire Centennials organization I thank Ryne for his contributions during his time here in Merritt and wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”


For further information, please contact Cents head coach and GM Luke Pierce at 250-378-3607.

The BCHL has also issued a release using much of the information contained in the Cents release:

The British Columbia Hockey League's Merritt Centennials are pleased to announce that graduating defenceman Ryne Bodger has commited to attend the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota and suit up for the NCAA Division III Saints for the 2010/11 season.

Bodger recently concluded his final BCHL campaign by helping the Centennials reach the playoffs for the first time since the 2006/07 season. The 20-year old also set a career high with 19 points.

In three BCHL seasons split between Cowichan Valley, Powell River and Merritt, Bodger totalled 10 goals and 44 points in 132 games.

I also received another email this morning from Shauna Clinging of the Nicola Valley Minor Lacrosse Association highlighting weekend action for the local squads.

Royal Lepage Novice took on the Kelowna Kodiaks in double header action. The local side hammered in 8 shots to beat the visitors 8-1. Scorers were Mac Stead (3), Fred Ware (2), Devyn Krilye(not sure on spelling), Gord Ware & Travis Simon scored 1 each. Assists were by Travis Simon, Mack Stead, & Fred Ware
In the afternoon they met again in a 6-3 match that saw the locals victorious a second time for the day. Mac Stead found the net 4 times, Fred Ware & Jacob Woodland each scored a goal.

The Century 21 Peewees play a tight game against the Kelowna Kodiaks. The match was even after the first but the Kelowna side managed to outscore the Nicola Valley team in the second and third for a final score of 6-4. Nicola Valley goals were scored by Lane Antoine, Dakota Grismer-Vogt, Tanner Malloy & Tyrell Suzuki.

Sunday Play:
The Contain-It Storage Bantams were down 2-1 to the Kelown Kodiaks after the first period of play. They rallied and hand scored 5 goals in the second and 2 more in the third to finish with an 8-3 victory. Kristian Stead scored 6 times and Ben Cunningham scored twice. Assists in the game from Liam Clinging, Aaron Montreuil, Dakota Grismer-Vogt.

The Merritt Mountain Towing Midgets beat the Shuswap Outlaws 8-4

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Catching Up with Luke Pierce, Nicola Valley Minor Lacrosse Scores:

I had the chance to chat with Cents coach and GM Luke Pierce on the morning show today. Luke and I covered off-season roster plans, scouting and post-secondary opportunities for graduating players, Jordan Soquila, Alex Valenti, Ryne Bodger and Lucas Daoust. As Luke mentions in the interview, hopefully something will be finalized for all four guys in the next little while.

Cents Head Coach & GM Luke Pierce

All audio property of Merritt Broadcasting Ltd.

I received another email this morning from Nicola Valley Minor Lacrosse Association PR director Shauna Clinging, outlining the lacrosse action for the local squads over the weekend.

It was a busy weekend for Thunder Lacrosse, on Sunday the Peewees, Bantams and Midgets all traveled to Enderby to face the Shuswap Outlaws association teams.

The Century 21 Peewees battled back and forth in a tight game. Tanner Malloy found the net in the final seconds of the game to give the Peewee Thunder a 4-4 tie.

Merritt Mountain Towing Midget Thunder also came away with a tied score for the day at 7-7.

Contain-It Storage Bantam Thunder had slow start and were down 6-1 at the end of the first period. They stepped up their game for the second and third with the play fairly even between the two sides finished with a 10-4 loss. Kristian Stead found the net 3 times & Brody Tod tallied the other Thunder goal Coach Will Clinging was pleased with the grit and hustle his team showed in the game. "We need to take a look at the first 5 or 10 minutes of our game and make sure we don't fall behind. We are playing well as a team and doing lots of things right and the wins will start to come."

Later in the day the Peewee Thunder traveled to face N. Okanagan 2. The Peewees struggled and suffered an 11-1 defeat with Dakota Grismer-Vogt getting the team's only goal in the game off an assist from Pay Beatty-Smith.