The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed defenseman Dane Birks to a two-year, entry level contract.
A Merritt Native, Birks spent time with the Merritt Centennials from 2012-2014, but has spent the last 4 years at Michigan Tech playing for the Huskies, and has shown steady improvement throughout his years. This season he finished with five goals, 13 assists and was a plus 10 in 44 games.
In 112 BCHL games, Birks had 41 points (9 goals and 32 assists), and was named Merritt's Rookie of the Year in 2012-13, and Merritt's Defenseman of the Year in 2013-14.
He will report this week to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on an amateur tryout contract before his deal begins for the 2018-19 campaign.
The buzzer sounded at the SOEC in Penticton last night, and for the first time in 14 years neither the Vernon Vipers or Penticton Vees will be represented in the Interior Division Final.
The Trail Smoke Eaters topped the Vees in Game 7 on the road 4-2 to clinch their first trip to the third round in franchise history, and they will meet the newly moved Wenatchee Wild for the Interior Division Championship and a berth in the BCHL finals. Wenatchee topped the Vernon Vipers 4-2 in the series after coming back from an 0-2 deficit. This will also mean a fourth team (other than the Vees, Vipers, or Warriors) will win the Interior Division title in that 14 year time frame.
The Mainland Division Championship went to seven games as the Spruce Kings dispatched the Surrey Eagles at home in Prince George and it sets up a collision course with Island Division Champions, the Powell River Kings, who won in 5 games over the Victoria Grizzlies. This matchup represents what is the 3rd longest possible series in the BCHL with 890 kilometres between the two rinks (and two ferries!)
The clash of Kings begins on Friday, while the Smoke Eaters and Wild series schedule has not yet been announced.
In basketball it's all about March Madness, but in college hockey the quest for the Frozen Four begins on Friday.
In all, the Merritt Centennials will have 5 alumnus participating in the tournament on 3 different teams. The Michigan Tech Huskies will be taking on the No. 1 seeded Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and the Huskies will have 3 former Cents competing: Devin Kero (G-2013-14), Gavin Gould (F-2013-16) , and Dane Birks (D-2012-2014) (who is a draft pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins).
In another matchup, the Providence Friars are taking on the Clarkson Golden Knights, and Brandon Duhaime (F-2014-15), drafted by Minnesota in 2016, will be adding his talents to the Friars side.
Finally, Josh Teves (D-2014-15) will be looking to help the Princeton Tigers upset the No. 1 Ohio State Buckeyes.
The round of 16 begins this Friday with the Frozen Four going from April 5-7th in St. Paul Minnesota.
A flurry of activity before the closing time of 9pm on Friday night brought the bid totals up.
In all $6105 was raised, and Game Day Coordinator Teresa Sybrandy says it will go to a very worthy cause.
"The money will be split between the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Ty Pozzobon Foundation, so two causes that are very near and dear to Merrittonians."
The players who proved the most popular were Zach Risteau and Matt Kopperud whose jersey's both raised $300 towards the cause.
The Merritt Centennials season may have finished with a sweep, but the offseason begins with a bang.
Early Bird Season Tickets are now on sale to the public with special pricing on a number of options: Adult, Senior, Children, and Student Season Passes, as well as 10 and 5 game flex packs.
Adult Season Tickets start at $199 for the year or less than $7.10 a game!
Available until April 30th, Regular pricing in effect May 1st.
Visit the Centennials Marketing Office on Voght Street across from the Post Office to grab yours.