Three former Centennials forwards have signed new pro contracts for the 2011-12 season, one happened just this week and the other two were earlier in the off-season, but I missed posting them.
First, Dustin Johnson played out his junior hockey eligibility this past season with Merritt and Victoria (and the KIJHL's Nelson Leafs) and has signed with the Evansville Icemen of the Central Hockey League.
Johnson had 134 points in 150 career BCHL games, including 111 points in 110 games with the Centennials prior to his trade to the Grizzlies last November, which saw Merritt acquire Lino Chimienti in a complicated three-way deal that also involved Grande Prairie of the AJHL.
Here's an excerpt from the release from the Evansville Icemen's website that pertains to Johnson (check out the interesting writing style):
Activity continues to abound around the summer off-season agenda for the Evansville IceMen of the Central Hockey League; especially with the eagerly anticipated move into the new state-of-the-art Downtown Evansville Arena. Team roster building continues to be listed quite prominently as a top priority as the 2011-12 CHL pro hockey season approaches.
With his own marching orders firmly in hand, the IceMen General Manager/Coach Rich Kromm has announced on this date the contract signings of two more player personnel to increase the club’s current roster to 13-players with more on the way. The latest to affix their respective signatures to the Evansville dotted line are defenseman NICK SCHNEIDER and rookie right wing DUSTIN JOHNSON. Both players have inked one-year pacts effective with the 2011-12 CHL season. Adhering to club policy, terms of the two contracts were not disclosed.
JOHNSON, 21, will be broaching his initial season in the professional ranks, armed with the reputation for goal-cannoneering prowess. The 6-2, 200lb right wing is a product of the Western Canadian junior ‘A’ circuit, the BCHL (British Columbia Hockey League) where his goal scoring exploits became evident and prevalent. In 2010-11, starring for the Victoria Grizzlies of the BCHL, he cannonaded a prolific, team-best 9-goals in 10-playoff games, totaling 12-points in all. In the two preceding seasons, the native of Penticton, BC topped his Merritt Centennials BCHL squadron in goal scoring artistry. In 2009-10, both his 35-goals and 67-points in 52-games were team-foremost while in 2008-09, his 23-snipes were best and his 35-total points ranked team runner-up.
Coach Kromm expounded on the promise and potential of his new right wing. “Dustin is a young guy who has always carried with him the ability to score. He is a proven goal-scorer who has a big shot and good size. Throughout his junior ‘A’ career, and for that matter, wherever he has played he has possessed the knack of scoring goals. He will now be given a great chance to do this at the pro level.”
In addition to his experience in both Victoria and Merritt, Johnson also saw action in the same BCHL with the Nanaimo Clippers in 2007-08 when he authored 7-points in 22-games on 4-goals, 3-assists. In his last 110-games in the BCHL, he has connected on 67-goals and 114-total points.
(I should note that Johnson confirmed to me that he didn't play with the Canberra Knights of the AIHL this past season, it was a different player with the same name)