Tuesday, August 23, 2011

'Smart Hockey' Comes to Merritt:


This is posted on the Merritt News website today...

'Smart hockey' comes to Merritt
August 23, 2011

John O'Connor - News Editor

As the BCHL and Western Hockey League continue a neck-and-neck battle for junior hockey players from across the country, Canada’s elite Junior A league is upping the ante with some interesting cross-league games.

Two-time defending B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League champions Simon Fraser University Clansmen will visit the Nicola Valley Memorial arena for an exhibition game against the Merritt Centennials Sept. 9.

The BCIHL, founded in 2006, is a college-level league where many junior hockey players end up, including many from the BCHL.

"We are excited to be hosting SFU here in Merritt in what will be a unique opportunity for us," said Cents head coach/GM Luke Pierce. "The game promises to be very competitive and we will approach it as another chance for us to prepare for our season."

The BCHL’s Coquitlam Express and Langley Rivermen will also get a crack at SFU in exhibition games scheduled for September.

"The game provides our players the chance to get a first-hand look at a very good team in what is quickly becoming a very attractive league for our graduates to play in," Pierce continued. "It goes hand-in-hand with our approach towards promoting education for our players, and I'd like to thank SFU general manager Jeff Dubois for reaching out to us and giving us this tremendous opportunity."

The opportunity offered by the young league is a compliment to the BCHL and its “smart hockey” concept it tries to promote. The BCHL continues to increase its number of players graduating to the university/college hockey level and, unlike the Western Hockey League, offers players the chance to earn an education and play in the highly sought after U.S. college hockey system, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

"We're looking forward to making the trip to Merritt and giving a couple of ex-Centennials on our roster the chance to face their old team," said SFU general manager Jeff Dubois. "It's also a good opportunity for fans in Merritt to see how good the calibre of play is in the BCIHL and leave a positive impression on some potential future recruits."

The BCIHL currently has 7 teams: Selkirk College Saints, SFU Clansmen, TWU Titans, UFV Cascades, UVic Vikes, UFV Cascades, and the TRU Wolfpack out of Kamloops.

Alberta has a similar but much older league, the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC), which is comprised of 16 teams and has been around since 1964.

Cents Notes

The Cents announced last week the cancellation of their inaugural alumni golf tournament, scheduled for Aug. 27, due to lack of availability of some alumni.

“Only a handful of alumni were able to attend the event, and the Centennials would like to formally apologize to all those who have already signed up,” the team said in a press release Friday. “The Cents will now focus their efforts on the 2012 Alumni Golf Tournament as the team celebrates its 40th consecutive season of junior ‘A’ hockey in the BC Hockey League.

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