Sunday, July 31, 2011

Former Centennials Forward Mike Ouellette Signs With EHC Linz:


The third Cents alumni to sign a new pro contract for the 2011-12 season is former rookie of the year Mike Ouellette.

Here's the release from the Centennials website:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Merritt, BC - July 23, 2011

The Merritt Centennials would like to congratulate alumni Mike Ouellette after signing with the EHC LIWEST Black Wings Linz of the Austrian Erste Bank Eishockey Liga for the 2011-12 season.

Ouellette, who was BCHL Interior Conference Rookie of the Year in 2001, spent the 2010-11 season with the Graz 99ers of the Austrian League, leading the team in scoring with 55 points in 54 games. His totals also placed him 11th overall in league scoring. The 29-year-old has 103 points in 106 career games in the Austrian Erste Bank Eishockey Liga.

The Kamloops product is a veteran of 149 AHL games and 75 ECHL games over four pro seasons. Ouellette received a scholarship while playing for the Centennials and played four years at Dartmouth College after graduating from the BCHL in 2001.

Former Centennials Forward Wade MacLeod Signs With AHL's Springfield Falcons:


I missed this earlier this month, but former Cents forward Wade MacLeod is one step closer to playing in the NHL after signing a one-year contract with the AHL's Springfield Falcons.

Here's a video of Wade's first pro goal and assist during his first game with the Falcons last season.



Here's an excerpt from the release from the Falcons website pertain to MacLeod's signing:

Springfield, MA – The Springfield Falcons, proud members of the American Hockey League, announced today that forwards Aaron Bogosian, Wade MacLeod and Mike Thomas have all signed standard American Hockey League contracts for the 2011-12 season. All three players are currently at the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Development Camp from June 28 – July 2.

MacLeod also started his pro career with the Falcons last season after completing his collegiate career with Northeastern University. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound native of Coquitlam, British Columbia scored his first pro goal in his pro debut on March 23, 2011 at Hartford.

MacLeod led the Huskies in scoring three straight years from 2008-2011. He set career highs last year in goals (22), assists (23), and points (45) in 38 games. In 149 career games at Northeastern, he registered 61 goals, 76 assists good for 137 points.

Former Centennials Forward Dustin Johnson Signs With CHL's Evansville Icemen:

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)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Former Vernon Vipers Captain Kevin Kraus Hired as Assistant Coach by KIJHL's Revelstoke Grizzlies:


The KIJHL's Revelstoke Grizzlies have hired former Vernon Vipers captain Kevin Kraus as their assistant coach.

Here's the article from the KIJHL's website:

The Revelstoke Grizzlies organization is proud to announce the addition of Kevin Kraus as an Assistant Coach. Kevin will be joining new Head Coach Randy Quackenbush and Associate Coach Darren Komonoski.

Drafted by the Kamloops Blazers in 2004.
2006-2007 Kamloops Blazers ,WHL
2007-2008 Tri City Americans, WHL
2007-2008 Vernon Vipers BCHL
2008-2009 Vernon Vipers BCHL
2009-2010 Vernon Vipers (Captain) BCHL
2010-2011 CHL & SPHL Pro Hockey

Kevin was a hard working player who has won 2 National Championships with the Vernon Vipers. Kevin was the Vipers Team Captain in the 2009-2010 Season.

We are extremely excited to have Kevin with our organization.

Former Langley Lords Forward Ryan Walter to be Named Abbotsford Heat President:

Photo courtesy of Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

Former Langley Lords forward Ryan Walter is reportedly the new president of the AHL's Abbotsford Heat.

Here's the article from Cam Tucker of the Abbotsford Times:

The wait is over. Just 14 days after former Abbotsford Heat president and CEO Tom Mauthe officially resigned his position, the team will announce his replacement at a press conference Tuesday morning.

There are reports that Ryan Walter will be named the team's new president, however the Heat are not officially releasing any more information until the press conference.

Walter seems to be the obvious choice for president, especially given the family connection.

The Calgary Flames recently signed his son, Ben, to a two-way contract and it's likely he will begin the season with the Heat.

The announcement comes at a critical time for the AHL franchise and farm club of the Calgary Flames, as it enters its third season of operation.

While the numbers aren't official yet, the Heat and the City of Abbotsford are expected to announce a projected $1.2 million shortfall from last season, which the city and local taxpayers will have to subsidize.

The main reason why the team is expected to fall short of the $5.7 million in guaranteed revenue for the local ownership is overall fan attendance.

The Heat have finished each of their first two seasons in the bottom third in overall average attendance, although after combining with the city towards the end of last season to market the team more effectively, the number of fans began to increase.

As for Mauthe, who originally came to the Heat from Orca Bay, he has agreed to stay on to help the new president through the adjustment period.

Cents Seek Athletic Therapist/Equipment Manager:

I know this was posted back in May, but Cents coach and GM Luke Pierce asked me to repost it again due to the fact that he hasn't found the right person for the position.

Here's from the Cents website:

The Merritt Centennials have an immediate opening for an Athletic Therapist/Equipment Manager. The salary is minimum $2000 per month (negotiable) and the contract length is negotiable.

The Centennials appreciate all interest in the position, but only applicants considered for an interview will be contacted.

Applications are accepted by fax to (250) 378-3609, email to luke@merrittcentennials.com, or mail to Merritt Centennials, Human Resources, P.O. Box 1730, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8, (Attn: Luke Pierce)

Job Description

Role and Responsibilities

The Athletic Therapist/Equipment Manager is a key part of the success of the Merritt Centennials Hockey Club, contributing to the health and readiness of the players and working with the coaching staff to ensure optimal performance.

* Coordinate and implement all medical, rehabilitation and strength and conditioning activities
* Responsible for equipment inventory tracking, maintenance and distribution
* Responsible for injury prevention and assessment


Qualifications and Education Requirements

Preferred experience with hockey teams or other team related sports. Applicants must have the following qualifications:

* Certified Athletic Therapist
* Bachelor's Degree or Diploma: Kinesiology or related program preferred

The following credentials are preferred but not essential:

* ATC
* NSCA CSCS certification
* Hockey Canada 'Speak Out' and 'Safety' Programs

Preferred Skills

Working knowledge of modality unit preferred. Applicants must be committed to working in team environment and proven ability to handle multiple tasks and responsibilities.

Cents Booster Club Announces AGM:

One of the most important groups that ensures the survival of the Centennials year after year is the Booster Club. They've announced their annual general meeting for 2011, hope to see a big crowd there.

Here's from the Cents website:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Merritt, BC – July 27, 2011

The Merritt Centennials Booster Club would like to invite all residents of the Nicola Valley to its Annual General Meeting on Monday, August 8, 2011 at 7 p.m. at the Ska-Lu-La Workshop at 1775 Coldwater Avenue.

The evening will consist of reports on booster club finances for the 2010-11 fiscal year and the election of the 2011-12 Board of Directors. Nominations for the Board of Directors will be permitted from the floor during the meeting.

“We'd like to hear from you even if you only have a few spare hours a month to donate, any amount of volunteer time is a huge help,” said Cents Booster Club President Betty Doberstein. “As part of our fundraising, we do catering and bar services for any event, and even have a full supply of dishes for rent at a reasonable rate.”

For further information, please contact Cents Booster Club President Betty Doberstein at 250-378-6940 or bettydoberstein@hotmail.com or Secretary Rusty Brewer at 250-378-4744 or rustybrewer@hotmail.com

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Coaching Changes in Westside: Darren Yopyk Resigns, Rylan Ferster Hired:


According to Gregg Drinnan's Taking Note blog (over there on the left), Westside Warriors coach and GM Darren Yopyk has resigned to take a scouting job with the NHL's Minnesota Wild.

Yopyk, who compiled a 71-38-3-8 recored in two seasons with the Warriors, is being replaced by BCHL veteran bench boss Rylan Ferster.

Ferster spent last season with the KIJHL's Revelstoke Grizzlies, leading them to a 40-9-0-1 record. He's previously coached in the BCHL with Salmon Arm (twice) and Victoria. Ferster left Revelstoke in June to work with Troy Mick at the Pursuit of Excellence in Kelowna.

Yopyk's departure means that nine BCHL teams will have new head coaches behind the bench to start the 2011-12 season.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Chilliwack-Fort McMurray Trade:


The Chilliwack Chiefs (nee Quesnel Millionaires) completed the future considerations portion of a trade from last season that saw F Sam Higgins (91) go from the Mills to the Fort McMurray Oil Barons.

According to an article in the Fort McMurray Today newspaper, D Shay Laurent (93) is set to join the Chiefs as the futures to the deal.

To Chilliwack:
D Shay Laurent (93)

Here's the excerpt from the newspaper article regarding the trade:

Oil Barons head to training camp

Greg Downs - Today staff

It may be the middle of summer and the temperature is still well above freezing, but hockey is back.

The Fort McMurray Oil Barons open training camp at the Casman Centre this weekend — a month early — in preparation for the 2011 World Junior Club Cup in Russia at the end of August.

There's plenty to be excited about for the new-look Oil Barons, but also lots of question marks.

Head coach and general manager Gord Thibodeau has been rebuilding his roster over the summer, after losing nine players to age, including his starting goalie and all three captains.

It's likely destined to be a young team (baring anymore trades), and one that will need to come together at camp over the next four weeks. The fact the team that emerges come the end of August will be the first team to represent Canada at the World Junior Club Cup.

And for what may be the most important training camp in the team's long history, there will be plenty of battles for spots still open among the 30 players trying to crack the roster.

Here are some of the bigger storylines the Today will follow throughout training camp.

Who's in Net?

For the first time in the last three seasons, the Barons don't have a bonafide No.1 goalie heading into camp. Last year's starter Jesse Kallechy moved on due to age, and back-up goaltender Davis Jones was traded last month for depth up front.

Head coach Gord Thibodeau said at the start of the month he felt he had four strong young goalies that would vie for a spot. Three remain, and which one or two step up to fill the void could be the biggest question mark coming into camp.

Blue line

As depth goes, the Oil Barons are pretty thin on the back-end. With Shay Laurent traded this summer to the BCHL to complete last season's trade for Sam Higgins, there aren't many veterans left. Higgins, along with Josh Lee and Shane Oatway graduated from the team as well, leaving Brock Maschmeyer, Colton Parayko, and Drew McLaughlin as the only returnees.

Alberni Valley Signs Five, Loses Four:

The Bulldogs have added five new players for the upcoming season and lost four other players to the USHL.

Here's the skinny on who Alberni Valley has added.

F Artem Kalashnikov (93)

F Yan Kalashnikov (92)

F Ryan Lough (93)

D Brandon Halls (93)

D Chase Van Allen (92)


As for what the Bulldogs have lost, all four players are off to USHL teams.

To Omaha Lancers:
F Casey Bailey (91)

To Des Moines Buccaneers:
D Connor Varley (92)

To Dubuque Fighting Saints:
F Brandon Adams (92)

To Omaha Lancers:
D Kenney Morrison (92)

Here's the article from Alberni Valley's website:

The Alberni Valley Bulldogs would like to announce that 92 F Yan Kalashnikov and 93 F Artsiom Kalashnikov, 93 F Ryan Lough, 93 D Brandon Halls and
92 D Chase Van Allen all have committed for the 2011-2012 season.

Originally from Minsk, Belarus the Kalashnikov brothers played for the Grand Forks Border Bruins of KIJHL Junior B League. The 5’9” 165 pound brothers moved from Belarus to Port Coquitlam two years ago to pursue their hockey careers.Yan posted 21 goals, 24 assists for 45 points in 39 games last season, while Artsiom posted 13 goals, 22 assists for 35 points in 36 games.

“The Kalashnikov brothers will bring people to their feet in the dogpound. Their skill level, competitveness and creativity will be exciting to watch, “ comments Head Coach/Assistant Director of Hockey Operations Paul Esdale. “We are thrilled to have Yan and Arty wear the Bulldogs uniform,” adds Esdale.

Ryan Lough, an Ontario native played for the Notre Dame Argos of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA league. Lough posted 16 goals, 31 assists for 47 points in 50 games last season. The 5’11” 170 pound Lough will add speed and skill to the Bulldogs roster.

“Ryan has great speed, vision and playmaking abilities which will help create offensive chances in all different situations, “ comments Esdale. “Ryan comes from a great program in Notre Dame, which will help him make the transition to the BCHL level.We are very excited to have Ryan come to the Bulldogs and look forward to him contributing immediatley to the team,” adds Esdale.

1993 Defenseman Brandon Halls spent last year with the Penticton Lakers of the KIJHL where he posted 8 goals and 14 assists for 22 points in 43 games. The 5’6”, 170 pound Calgary native will add speed and smarts to the defense core.
“Halls maybe short in stature, but he competes harder then anyone on the ice. He displays a great understanding of the game and will add plenty of offense to the back end,” states Esdale.

1992 Defenseman Chase Van Allen comes over from the Alaska Avalanche of the North American Hockey League (NAHL). Chase played two seasons for Alaska posting 2 goals, 24 assists for 26 points and 113 penalty minutes in 92 games. Originally from Anchorage, Alaska the 5’11”
180 pound defender looks to be a solid two way defenseman for the Bulldogs.

“Van Allen will bring experience and add another guy who can skate and make the first pass out of his end. Chase will be looked upon to play in all situations and lead by example on and off the ice,” said Esdale.

Director of hockey operations Rick Schievink adds:

“With the overall speed and skill level of the BCHL we are always looking to upgrade and with the addition of these promising young athletes there is no question we will have speed, and skill up front. We know that it will take time for these players to adjust to this level and it should be both interesting and exciting to watch them grow and develop.”

“Perhaps the most promising news for me is how much they are looking forward to playing here and making the Alberni Valley their home. They all are highly competitive players and they want to make a difference both on and off the ice, “adds Schievink.

In other news: American born players Casey Bailey, Connor Varley, Brandon Adams and Lloydminster, Alberta native Kenny Morrison all have opted to play in the United States Hockey League (USHL) next season. We thank all the players for their contributions to the community and team last season.

For more information please contact Director of Hockey Operations Rick Schievink at 250.723.4412

Friday, July 22, 2011

Salmon Arm Adds Dan Cioffi as Associate Coach:

Salmon Arm has filled an empty spot behind its bench with the Silverbacks latest hiring. They've added Dan Cioffi from the PIJHL's Delta Ice Hawks. Here's from their website:

The Salmon Arm Silverbacks are pleased to announce the hiring of Dan Cioffi as the clubs Associate Coach for the 2011-2012 season.

Dan joins the Backs from the Delta Ice Hawks in the PIJHL where he was the Co-Coach and Director of Player Development. Prior to his time in Delta, Dan spent three seasons behind the bench with the Burnaby Express as the clubs Associate Coach and Director of Player Development.

"We are excited to add Dan to the coaching staff here in Salmon Arm. I have known Dan for some time and am very pleased with what he brings to our group" stated Head Coach/GM Colin O’Hara.

"I’m very excited to work for an organization with such a rich history in developing players for the next level. I want to thank our owners Randy and Terry Williams and Coach O’Hara for the opportunity to be part the staff in Salmon Arm" stated Cioffi upon accepting his new position.

The Silverbacks family would like to welcome Dan and his wife Kelly to the community and look forward to the upcoming season.

Langley-Salmon Arm Trade:


The Langley Rivermen dealt another veteran player this week as F Kody Dhaliwal (91) was traded to Salmon Arm for future considerations.

To Salmon Arm:
F Kody Dhaliwal (91)

To Langley:
Future Considerations (likely cash)

Here's the story from the Rivermen website:

Township of Langley, BC, Tuesday, July 19, 2011: The Langley Rivermen organization announced today that they have traded Kody Dhaliwal to the Salmon Arm Sliverbacks for future considerations as well.

Kody played for the Langley franchise for three seasons registering 12 goals and 25 assists as a forward in 113 games.

The Rivermen organization would like to wish Kody all the best this upcoming hockey season.

For further information please contact the Rivermen at info@langleyrivermen.com

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Former Cents Colour Commentator Joins Victoria Royals as Play-By-Play Announcer:


Marlon Martens, who actually hired me in Merritt in 2002 back when the station was still Radio NL, is moving back to BC. Here's the article from the Victoria Times-Colonist:

Everybody needs a good story when they're old.

Marlon Martens will have one to tell, as the first radio play-by-play broadcaster of the Victoria Royals of the Western Hockey League.

Dave Sawchuk will have one too - the tale about the shortest tenure ever for a WHL play-by-play man.

He called zero games. Sawchuk, music director for five years of The Zone 91.3 FM, was officially announced in May as the first play-by-play announcer for the Royals. But he has left to take a position as the new promotions and media relations representative for EMI Music in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

So the Royals broadcast booth goes to Martens, instead. The B-93 DJ was the radio play-by-play man for the Lethbridge Hurricanes from 2005-07 before the WHL team switched stations. The B.C. native and father of two got his start in the BCHL with the Burnaby Bulldogs while at BCIT and also did colour with the Merritt Centennials.

"We were literally flooded with applications from so many good candidates and it was a tough decision," said John Shields, program manager for The Zone.

"It was the intangibles that Marlon brought to the table. He is going to play a major role in the personality of our station."

It was also a difficult decision to pass on the job, said Sawchuk.

"I was really looking forward to doing the Royals play-by-play," said the native of Athabasca, Alta., who will complete his communications degree at Royal Roads University over the summer.

"But sometimes in life, opportunities come in bunches. My passion is music and this offer [with EMI] was too good, too interesting and too exciting to pass up. I just got off traveling four days with Katy Perry and promoting her concerts on the prairies."

Sawchuk said he knows he will become a footnote in Victoria hockey history.

"It's a good story to tell when I'm retired and greyhaired - that I was the WHL announcer who called no games," he chuckled.

Surrey-Langley Trade:


According to the Surrey Now newspaper, Surrey and Langley have swung a trade that sees F Brandon Scholten (92) join the Eagles from the Rivermen for future considerations. Here's how the deal breaks down:

To Surrey:
F Brandon Scholten (92)

To Langley:
Future Considerations (likely cash)

Here's the article from the Surrey Now newspaper:
The Surrey Eagles added a physical dimension to their lineup with a trade to pick up Brandon Scholten from B.C. Hockey League rival Langley Rivermen Tuesday.

The hulking Scholten scored two goals and two assists in an injury-filled season with Langley last year. While his scoring totals aren't eye-catching, his physical play keeps opposing players on edge whenever they face him.

"We had kind of identified him last year as a player we were interested in when we played Langley so many times," said Eagles coach Matt Erhart. "He has a really big, physical presence on the ice and one thing we identified as an area we need to improve in order to make the next step is to get tougher as a team. Brandon is the kind of player who, if he is in the right situation with the right group of players around him, can be more than just a big body that intimidates."

The Aldergrove native started out as a defenceman before switching to forward with the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League. Erhart said Scholten's versatility was a bonus for the Eagles when they decided to send future considerations to the Rivermen to secure his services.

"Brandon's been playing forward for the last few years but with the new rules (in the BCHL) and the smaller rosters, he's a player who can also play defence if we need him to," Erhart said. "That's a huge benefit to have, especially if you're on the road and injuries pop up. He's flexible in what he can do position-wise and that made him very attractive for us."

Monday, July 18, 2011

BCHL Releases 2011-12 Regular Season Schedule:


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 18, 2011 - Burnaby, BC

The British Columbia Hockey League is pleased to reveal its schedule for the 2011-12 season which will be the 50th in league history.

After a great deal of effort by the league office and feedback from league coaches and general managers, the entire schedule is now available on the league website at www.bchl.ca

“I’d like to acknowledge the work done by our executive director Dave Sales on this season’s schedule,” said BCHL commissioner John Grisdale. “It’s an unenviable task and a huge job that Dave took on but I believe he’s come up with a schedule that works in everyone’s best interest.”

A focus was placed on Friday and Saturday evening games, also known as “prime nights”, and significant increases were made in that area compared to last season.

Of the 480 games scheduled, 67 per cent will take place on prime nights. With Sundays included, 83 per cent of games will be prime or Sunday starts leaving only 17 per cent of games scheduled for midweek.

“Hockey fans always eagerly anticipate the release of the schedule so we’re happy to let fans, scouts, the media and our players see what’s in store for the year ahead,” said Sales. “By handling the league schedule internally this year, we’ve boosted the number of weekend starts and hope that allows greater access to games for anyone following the BCHL.”

The puck drops on the upcoming campaign on Friday, Sept. 23 with 14 teams in action. All teams hit the ice the following night with eight games on the slate.

The schedule has a nine-day break at Christmas and concludes on Sunday, March 11, 2012 with three games scheduled.

Prince George-Woodstock Trade Again:


According to the Maritime Junior Hockey League site, Prince George and the Woodstock Slammers have hooked up on another trade, with D Bennett Hambrook (92) off to New Brunswick for future considerations.

I would expect that Hambrook is the futures in the Nick Huard/Dustin Beairsto deal that was completed last week between the two teams.

To Woodstock:
Bennett Hambrook (92)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Prince George-Woodstock Trade:


As announced on the Maritime Junior Hockey League website, the Prince George Spruce Kings have acquired some scoring punch from the Woodstock Slammers. PG picked up F Nick Huard (91) and futures from Woodstock for F Dustin Beairsto (92) and futures.

To Prince George:
Nick Huard (91)

To Woodstock:
Dustin Beairsto (92)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cents 2011-12 Schedule By The Numbers:

Cents 2011-12 Schedule By The Numbers:

Now that the Cents 2011-12 schedule has been released, I thought I'd take a closer look at it.

The Cents 39th BCHL regular season opens on Friday, September 23, 2011 in Prince George against the Spruce Kings and wraps up on Saturday, March 10, 2012 in Merritt against the Trail Smoke Eaters. It's the fourth straight season that Merritt ends against the Smokies.

Merritt plays Trail, Penticton and Vernon eight times this season (four home, four away). Prince George and Westside each play the Centennials seven times (three home, four away), while Merritt faces Salmon Arm and Chilliwack also each seven times (four home, three away). Powell River, Surrey, Cowichan Valley and Langley are the Coastal Conference teams which will visit the Cents this season for the teams' lone match-up. Coquitlam, Nanaimo, Victoria and Alberni Valley represent the Cents lone road games of the season in the Coastal Conference.

Nicola Valley residents will have things besides hockey to enjoy in the fall, as the Centennials start out with five of their first seven games on the road. At the midpoint of the season on December 9th, Merritt will have played an equal number of home and away games. The season ends with 7 of the Cents 10 final games on home ice.

Merritt's longest stretch of road games is four from Jan. 28 - Feb. 10 with games in Chilliwack, Vernon twice and Westside. The Cents also have five different stretches of three games away from home.

The schedule is highlighted by one six game stretch at home (from Oct. 8 - 23) with visits to Merritt by Vernon, Powell River, Salmon Arm, Chilliwack, Surrey and Cowichan Valley. The Cents also have one four game home stand (Jan. 13 - 18 against Vernon, Chilliwack, Langley and Westside) and three, three-game home stands.

One of the cool features of the BCHL's schedule are the "home and home" series, where teams play consecutive games against the same opponent. Luckily, the Cents have seven such series this year - against Vernon on December 2 and 3, January 7 and 13, and February 10 and 14. There are also two such series against Trail on September 28 and 30, and on March 9 and 10. They'll also play "home and home" series' with Salmon Arm on November 2 and 4, Prince George on November 25 and 26, and Westside on December 17 and 29.

The Centennials have 17 sets of back-to-back games and 3 sets of back-to-back-to-back games. 8 of the back-end games of the 17 back-to-back series are on the road (Prince George (2), Penticton (2), Westside (2), Chilliwack, Vernon). The 9 back-end home games are against Vernon (2), Penticton (2), Trail (2), Salmon Arm, Westside and Chilliwack.

Local fans obviously have plenty of opportunities to see Interior Conference clubs at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena. Visits from Coastal Conference clubs are more rare. Here are the four Coastal Conference teams visits to Merritt this year:

* Powell River (October 13)
* Surrey (October 21)
* Cowichan Valley (October 23)
* Langley (January 15)

By the same token, Centennials fans in the Coastal Conference cities will get a chance to see their team in person on these dates:

* Alberni Valley (January 20)
* Victoria (January 21)
* Nanaimo (January 22)
* Coquitlam (February 17)

Games by weekday:

* Sunday: 4 (3 home, 1 away)
* Monday: 0 (0 home, 0 away)
* Tuesday: 3 (3 home, 0 away)
* Wednesday: 9 (3 home, 6 away)
* Thursday: 4 (4 home, 0 away)
* Friday: 22 (10 home, 12 away)
* Saturday: 18 (8 home, 10 away)

And by month:

* September: 4 (1 home, 3 away)
* October: 11 (7 home, 4 away)
* November: 11 (5 home, 6 away)
* December: 10 (5 home, 5 away)
* January: 11 (5 home, 6 away)
* February: 9 (4 home, 5 away)
* March: 4 (3 home, 1 away)

Longest single-day driving trips:

* Merritt to Alberni Valley, 267 miles, Jan. 20
* Merritt to Trail, 276 miles, Sept. 28, Nov. 30, Feb. 29 and Mar. 9
* Merritt to Prince George, 347 miles, Sept. 23, Nov. 26 and Dec. 9

2011-12 Merritt Centennials Schedule Released:

I managed to get my hands on the Centennials 2011-12 regular season schedule and although the start times aren't yet available, at least we know when Merritt plays all the other teams in the BCHL.

I'll break down the schedule by numbers in the next day or two.

Date Home Away
Sept 23-11 Prince George Merritt
Sept 24-11 Prince George Merritt
Sept 28-11 Trail Merritt
Sept 30-11 Merritt Trail
Oct 01-11 Merritt Westside
Oct 05-11 Penticton Merritt
Oct 07-11 Westside Merritt
Oct 08-11 Merritt Vernon
Oct 13-11 Merritt Powell River
Oct 14-11 Merritt Salmon Arm
Oct 16-11 Merritt Chilliwack
Oct 21-11 Merritt Surrey
Oct 23-11 Merritt Cowichan Valley
Oct 28-11 Salmon Arm Merritt
Oct 29-11 Penticton Merritt
Nov 02-11 Salmon Arm Merritt
Nov 04-11 Merritt Salmon Arm
Nov 05-11 Penticton Merritt
Nov 11-11 Merritt Prince George
Nov 17-11 Merritt Prince George
Nov 18-11 Merritt Chilliwack
Nov 19-11 Penticton Merritt
Nov 23-11 Westside Merritt
Nov 25-11 Merritt Prince George
Nov 26-11 Prince George Merritt
Nov 30-11 Trail Merritt
Dec 02-11 Vernon Merritt
Dec 03-11 Merritt Vernon
Dec 07-11 Chilliwack Merritt
Dec 09-11 Prince George Merritt
Dec 10-11 Merritt Trail
Dec 13-11 Merritt Penticton
Dec 16-11 Merritt Salmon Arm
Dec 17-11 Westside Merritt
Dec 29-11 Merritt Westside
Dec 30-11 Chilliwack Merritt
Jan 06-12 Salmon Arm Merritt
Jan 07-12 Vernon Merritt
Jan 13-12 Merritt Vernon
Jan 14-12 Merritt Chilliwack
Jan 15-12 Merritt Langley
Jan 18-12 Merritt Westside
Jan 20-12 Alberni Valley Merritt
Jan 21-12 Victoria Merritt
Jan 22-12 Nanaimo Merritt
Jan 25-12 Merritt Penticton
Jan 28-12 Chilliwack Merritt
Feb 03-12 Vernon Merritt
Feb 04-12 Westside Merritt
Feb 10-12 Vernon Merritt
Feb 14-12 Merritt Vernon
Feb 17-12 Coquitlam Merritt
Feb 18-12 Merritt Chilliwack
Feb 24-12 Merritt Trail
Feb 25-12 Merritt Penticton
Feb 29-12 Trail Merritt
Mar 01-12 Merritt Penticton
Mar 06-12 Merritt Salmon Arm
Mar 09-12 Trail Merritt
Mar 10-12 Merritt Trail

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday Moves:

More ex-BCHL players have been on the move or resigned over the last week, here's a summary:

F Andrew Ladd (Coquitlam, 2002-03) inked a five-year, $22 million contract with Winnipeg Jets (NHL) as a restricted free agent. The Maple Ridge product had 59 points (29g, 30a) in 81 games last season with the Jets (nee Atlanta Thrashers). . . .


G Brad Thiessen (Penticton/Prince George/Merritt, 2003-06) re-signed with Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL) on a one-year, two-way contract worth $525,000 if he plays with the Pens. He had a 35-8-1 record, a 1.93 goals against average and a .922 save percentage in 46 appearances with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL) in 2010-11. Thiessen also won the Baz Bastien Trophy as Best Goaltender in the AHL and the Harry Holmes Trophy as part of the Best Goaltending Duo in the AHL. He was named to the AHL First All-Star Team as well. . . .


F Tyler Bozak (Victoria, 2004-07) signed a two-year deal worth $1.5 million with Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL). The Regina native had 32 points (15g, 17a) in 82 games with the Leafs last season. . . .


F Matt Watkins (Vernon, 2004-05) netted a one-year, two-way contract extension with Phoenix Coyotes (NHL). The deal pays Watkins $55,000 if he plays in the AHL and $550,000 if he plays in the NHL. He had 35 points (15g, 20a) in 64 games with San Antonio Rampage (AHL) last season. . . .


F Mike Santorelli (Vernon, 2003-04) re-upped with Florida Panthers (NHL) on a two-year contract worth $1.6 million per season. The Vancouver native had 41 points (20g, 21a) in 82 games with the Panthers in 2010-11. . . .


F Jeff Tambellini (Chilliwack, 2000-02) signed a three-year contract with ZSC Lions (NLA - Switzerland). He had 24 points (14g, 10a) in 69 games last season split between Vancouver Canucks (NHL) and Manitoba Moose (AHL). . . .


D Nathan Oystrick (Surrey, 2000-02) inked a one-year, two-way contract with Phoenix Coyotes (NHL). The Regina product had 45 points (15g, 30a) in 61 games with Peoria Rivermen (AHL) and 3 points (1g, 2a) in nine games with St. Louis Blues (NHL) in 2010-11. . . .


D Keith Seabrook (Coquitlam/Burnaby, 2004-06) has been traded from Calgary Flames (NHL) to Florida Panthers (NHL) for D Jordan Henry. Seabrook had 23 points (5g, 18a) in 63 games split between Abbotsford Heat (AHL) and Manitoba Moose (AHL). . . .


D Jordie Benn (2004-08) signed a one-year, two way contract with Dallas Stars (NHL). The Victoria native had 12 points (2g, 10a) in 60 games with Texas Stars (AHL) last season. . . .

Former Cents Defenceman Alan Mazur Takes His Game to Europe:


Another former Cents player is taking their game to Europe as Alan Mazur is set to join Dundee Stars (EIHL) for the 2011-12 season. Here's from the Cents website:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Dundee, Scotland - July 10, 2011

Stars' head coach, Dan Ceman, has signed 25 year old defenceman, Alan Mazur, for the 2011-12 season.

The 6ft 1in, 185lbs blueliner joins the Taysiders from the Bloomington Prairie Thunder of the Central Hockey League where he was one of only two defencemen chosen for the All Rookie Team for the Central Hockey League.

After starting his hockey career in the BCHL with the Coquitlam Express and Merritt Centennials, he then had a successful four year college career with Rochester Institute of Technology before joining the Thunder at the beginning of last season.

Ceman didn't hide his pleasure at signing the player when he said, "Alan will be a key part of our success this year. He moves the puck extremely well, has a great shot on the power play and plays an intense, physical brand of hockey as well. I have heard nothing but good things about Alan's on ice play and just as importantly he is a great teammate and a solid citizen. Alan had several teams in the East Coast Hockey League pursuing him as well as from Europe so I was very excited to finalize his contract."

Speaking from North America, Alan added, "I've heard a lot of great things from friends that are in the British Elite League, and am pretty excited to join a good organization like the Dundee Stars. I'm looking forward to living in and seeing what Scotland is all about. I also have heard so many good things about Stars' fans so I can't wait to meet them."

Mazur played a total of 166 games in the BC Hockey League, including 38 in Merritt during the 2005-06 season. He helped lead a potent Centennials attack during his time in Merritt, posting 12 goals and 46 assists for an average of 1.5 points per game.

Here's the line on Alan Mazur:

Cents Announce 1st Annual Alumni Golf Tournament:


This is going to be a great event! Hope to see lots of former Cents players in Merritt on August 27th!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Merritt, BC - July 6, 2011

The Merritt Centennials are pleased to announce their First Annual Alumni Golf Tournament. It's bound to be a special day of golf to celebrate our 39 years of hockey in the Nicola Valley on Saturday, August 27, 2011.

"It's a great opportunity to reconnect with former teammates and friends and to meet players, coaches and staff from the current Merritt Centennials organization," said Cents Marketing Manager Rachael Sanders.

The First Annual Merritt Centennials Alumni Golf Tournament is at Quilchena On The Lake Golf Course, located just 15 minutes north of Merritt on Highway 5A in the heart of historic Quilchena. It's a full size nine-hole course on land that was once part of a cattle ranch.

Registration is between 1 - 1:45 pm and the tournament begins promptly at 2 pm with dinner to follow.

Cost for the day is $80 per person, including golf, dinner and commemorative golf shirt. Extra dinner tickets are $25 each.

To register for the event, please download the registration form HERE.

The entire Centennials organization hopes you can join us for a great day of golf and laughter with old friends!

Trade Between Cowichan Valley & Surrey Coming?

This was posted on The Province website today. Seems a deal is coming soon between the Capitals and Eagles.

I've taken the key part of the article as it relates to a trade and pasted it here. The rest of the article is below.

The plan is for Brandon to come out west from Toronto and play this season for Surrey in the BC Hockey League – where he can be close to Chris. The move has been complicated, though, by Penticton acquiring his rights and then trading them to Cowichan Valley. But Cowichan GM Jim Ingram said Friday that a deal is being worked on with Surrey that would allow it to happen.

Tanev brothers working on one hockey dream
By Jim Jamieson, The Province

The likeness is so striking that if you don't look twice you'd think that was Chris Tanev out there, skating with three dozen others at the Canucks' annual prospects camp.

Not too likely, seeing as Tanev showed he has NHL chops after a call-up in the regular season and even more impressively during the playoffs.

This Tanev is brother Brandon, two years younger at 19, but who may have the same late-blooming genes as his older sibling. Chris, a defenceman, found himself playing in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final barely a year after finishing his only year of college hockey at Rochester Institute of Technology.

Brandon is a forward and is hoping the same journey is in his GPS.

“It's a good opportunity, a chance to show my skills for the Vancouver Canucks and hopefully down the road I get to where (Chris) is at and play in the NHL,” said Brandon, who was invited to the camp as a free agent.

Brandon, also a late-grower like his brother, just got back to competitive hockey this season after sitting out four-plus seasons due to his small size. Chris, though, missed just two seasons for the same reason. At age 14 Brandon was maybe 4-9 and 85 pounds. Like Chris, he played high school hockey and roller hockey in the summer to keep some contact with the game.

He returned this season, with Markham Waxers of the Ontario Tier 2 junior league, and put up 16-26-42 in 46 games.

Now close to 6-feet tall and 160 pounds, he’s still a ways behind Chris – who’s 6-foot-2, 185 pounds.

Brandon's dad Mike, who also travelled to Vancouver, said the Canucks' invitation to the camp – which winds up on Monday -- will be invaluable for Brandon.

“I think this is going to be an eye-opening experience and I think once he realizes if he can compete with some of these guys that have been playing hockey at a very high level, then his confidence level is going to soar through the roof,” said Mike.

Canucks director of player development Dave Gagner said a year in the BCHL would benefit Brandon hugely.

“He impressed our guys that went to watch him this year with his skill and speed,” said Gagner. “Coming to this camp adds to his experience. He'll see a lot of things for the first time. If he's able to play in the BC junior league it should give

him a good kick-start to having a solid year. He's a special kid, but he needs to continue to grow both physically and mentally.”

Brandon claims he and his older brother have pretty similar personalities. Not as far as his parents are concerned.

“He's a different player than Christopher,” said their mother, Sophie Meredith.

“They're very much opposites. Christopher is very calm and Brandon is not. Brandon gets wound up a little easier.”

Different people, but working on the same hockey dream.
© Copyright (c) The Province

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Former Cents Goaltender Brad Thiessen Re-Ups with Pittsburgh:


Former Centennials goaltender Brad Thiessen has signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Thiessen became a restricted free agent on July 1st. The Aldergrove product played three seasons in the BCHL, including with the Cents during the 2005-06 season.

Here's from the Penguins website:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Pittsburgh, PA - July 6, 2011

The Pittsburgh Penguins have re-signed goaltender Brad Thiessen to a one-year contract, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Ray Shero.

Thiessen’s contract is a two-way deal worth $525,000 at the NHL level.

Thiessen, 25, is coming off a career year for the Penguins’ top minor-league affiliate, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League (AHL). In 46 games for WBS, Thiessen posted a 35-8-1 record, 1.94 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage.

The 6-foot, 180-pound Thiessen led the entire AHL and established WBS franchise records with his 35 victories and seven shutouts. Those numbers helped earn Thiessen the Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award as the AHL’s top goaltender. Thiessen and his crease partner, John Curry, shared the Harry “Hap” Holmes Memorial Award as the duo that allowed the fewest regular-season goals (183) in the AHL.

A native of Aldergrove, BC, Thiessen’s outstanding season earned him a berth on the First-Team All-AHL squad, two Reebok/AHL Goaltender of the Month Awards (October; February) and the starting nod for the Eastern Conference at the 2011 AHL All-Star Game (which he missed due to injury).

Thiessen appeared in 12 postseason games for WBS this spring, posting a 6-6 overall record, 1.67 goals-against average, .940 save percentage and two shutouts.

Thiessen, who signed with the Pittsburgh organization as an undrafted free agent on April 8, 2009, has appeared in 76 career regular-season games for WBS, going 49-22-2 with a 2.15 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage. His 11 career regular-season shutouts are a WBS franchise record.

Thiessen spent three seasons playing at Northeastern University from 2006-09. During that time he appeared in 111 games, posting a 52-46-12 record. Following his junior season at Northeastern, Thiessen became a traveling member of the ‘Black Aces’ taxi squad throughout the Penguins’ 2009 Stanley Cup championship run.

Mark Ferner Resigns from Vernon to Join WHL's Everett Silvertips, Vipers Hire Jason Williamson as Head Coach/GM:

The coaching carousel continues in the BCHL this off-season as now Vernon will have a new head coach in 2011-12. I would guess with the promotion of Jason Williamson to the top job, the Vipers are on the hunt for an assistant coach.

Here's the official release from the BCHL:

The British Columbia Hockey League announced Wednesday that the Vernon Vipers have hired Jason Williamson as their new head coach after Mark Ferner accepted a job with the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League.

Williamson, 30, has been Ferner’s assistant the last four years and has been instrumental in the Vipers’ RBC Cup national championships in 2009 and 2010. He’s handled the bulk of the team’s recruiting since joining the club and in May, Williamson helped guide Vernon back to the title game. The 150 Mile House, B.C. native played for the Vipers from 1999 to 2002 before going to Niagara University.

“It was an easy decision to hire Jason,” said Vipers owner Duncan Wray. “He’s been a big part of our team, the players know him, he knows them and he knows our recruits; it will be business as usual and we expect no hiccups. Jason is respected through the hockey world for his contribution to our success since he’s been with us.”

In going to Everett, Ferner returns to his WHL coaching roots. He was with the Kamloops Blazers as an assistant for three seasons before taking their head coaching position in the 2005-06 campaign.

“At this level, our job is to promote our coaching staff as well as our players so we encourage Mark in moving on as it will further his career,” said Wray. “I’m pleased for Mark; I think he’ll do a great job and I wish him the best.”

A Regina native, Ferner accumulated at 165-51-7-17 BCHL record and was named Interior Conference Coach of the Year in 2009 and 2010.

“We are excited for Mark to get this opportunity at the major junior level,” said BCHL commissioner John Grisdale. “Mark’s patience and hockey background make him an outstanding teacher and leader. Everett has made an excellent decision in hiring him.”

Ferner was a defenceman in his playing career and was drafted in 1983 by the Buffalo Sabres from the Kamloops Junior Oilers/Blazers franchise where he played three seasons. He went on to play 91 games in the NHL with Buffalo, Washington, Detroit and Anaheim.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Salmon Arm Tabs Colin O'Hara as Head Coach and GM:

Salmon Arm officially replaced Tim Kehler as Head Coach/GM today, turning to a familiar face for the job.

Here's from the Backs website:

The Salmon Arm SilverBacks Hockey Club is pleased to officially announce the hiring of Colin O’Hara as the Head Coach/ General Manager. Colin has rejoined the SilverBacks signing a 3 year contract with the club.

Colin served as Associate coach of the SilverBacks last season. Previously he was Head Coach and General Manager of the Nipawin Hawks of the SJHL for two seasons. Colin has also worked on staff for the Vernon Vipers and Quesnel Millionaires of the BCHL prior to his appointment in Nipawin.

"I am excited to continue to work with a program as strong as the one here in Salmon Arm. I would like to thank Randy and Terry Williams for this opportunity and look forward to continue the strong working relationship that was established last season." says new coach Colin O'Hara

"We are looking forward to having Colin rejoining our organization, while he was with our organization last season we developed a strong relationship, his experiences as a player and coach will assist in the development of our organization and his coaching resume will undoubtedly make us a stronger program." said owner Randy Williams

The SilverBacks are pleased to welcome Colin and his wife Erin, along with their three daughters Karsen (10), Brooklyn (7), and Adysin (6) to the community of Salmon Arm.

To contact Colin O'Hara please call 250-832-3856 ext 106.

Monday Moves:

A few more BCHL alumni have changed addresses since the NHL Free Agent period kicked in on July 1st, here's a summary:

F Trevor Smith (Quesnel, 2003-04) has signed a one-year, two-way contract with Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL). According to CapGeek.com, the deal pays him $525,000 in the NHL and $105,000 if he plays with Norfolk Admirals (AHL). . . .

D Cody Franson (Trail, 2003-04) has been traded by Nashville Predators (NHL) to Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL) in a multi-player deal. The Salmon Arm product has one year left on a contract which pays him $800,000 in 2011-12. . . .

F Ben Walter (Langley, 2000-02) signed a two-year, two-way contract with Calgary Flames (NHL). According to CapGeek.com, Walter gets $525,000 this season and $550,000 next season if he plays in the NHL, but $275,000 either season if he plays with Abbotsford Heat (AHL). . . .

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Ex-BCHLers Find New Homes on NHL Free Agent Day:

Amidst all the signings on the first day of free agency in the NHL, a number of players who changed teams are BCHL alumni. Here's a summary.

F Andrew Ebbett (Salmon Arm, 2001-02) from Phoenix to Vancouver:

F Tanner Glass (Penticton/Nanaimo, 2001-03) from Vancouver to Winnipeg:

G Mark Dekanich (Coquitlam, 2003-04) from Nashville to Columbus:

F Chuck Kobasew (Penticton, 1998-2000) from Minnesota to Colorado:


D Ryan O'Byrne (Victoria/Nanaimo, 2001-03) has signed a two-year contract extension with Colorado Avalanche (NHL). O'Byrne had 10 points (0g, 10a) in 67 games split between the Avs and Montreal Canadiens last season. . . .

Friday, July 1, 2011

Penticton-Cowichan Valley-Markham Trade:

Penticton play-by-play voice Ryan Pinder tweeted this afternoon that the Vees have acquired forward Travis St. Denis (92) from Cowichan Valley for forward Steven Iacobellis (93) and defenceman Brandon Tanev (91). The Vees had earlier picked up Tanev from the Markham Waxers of the OJHL for forward Michael Bitz (92).

Here's how the trade breaks down:

To Penticton:
F Travis St. Denis (92)


To Cowichan Valley:
F Steven Iacobellis (93)


D Brandon Tanev (91)


To Markham:
F Michael Betz (92)