The Merritt Centennials have released their roster ahead of the 2017-18 Season. There's a good group of returning players, but a number of new faces as well.
The returning players on offense will include: Henry Cleghorn, Chase Bell, Rylan Van Unen, Zach Court, Zach Zorn, and Nick Wicks.
Players who were added over the summer on forward that made the squad are: Ashton Stockie, Brendan Schneider, and Matthew Kopperud.
Rounding out the forward ranks are the players that made the team from camp: Jack Vincent, Christian Sabin, Alex Bourhas, McKullen Astill.
The defense will be led by returnees Tyrell Buckley and Mike Van Unen, and supplemented by summer acquisitions Joey Berkopec and Jackson Munro. Making the team out of camp are Sam Miller and Jake Borgida.
The crease will be shared between returning goalie Jakob Berger and newcomer Vincent Duplessis.
Head Coach and General Manager Joe Martin says that when determining this years roster he had some pretty simple criteria.
"We're not looking for players that just want to play in the BCHL and wear a tracksuit or a jersey and just think that good things are going to happen to them just because they're here. We need guys that are going to go out there and be impactful."
Martin adds that the fans can get excited about consistent effort.
"I guess what has us most interested is the depth in every position. Hopefully it's wave after wave of similar hockey."
The season starts on Friday with Eddie Beers Night versus the BCHL Champions and rival Penticton Vees.
Goals were hard to come by, but penalties weren't in the preseason closer on Friday night. The Chilliwack Chiefs visited the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena to take on the Merritt Centennials, and despite the many powerplay opportunities neither team could convert. The Chiefs eventually got the heartbreaking goal in double overtime to win 2-1.
The first period saw 6 penalties in total. The Cents went to the box on two occasions. Lucas Yovetich got the first penalty of the game at 2:16 of the period, and the Chiefs didn't manage to get a shot on their first powerplay. In fact, the Chiefs didn't manage to get their first official shot until 12 minutes had expired in the 1st period. The Cents finished the first period 0/3 on the powerplay, while the Chiefs went 0/1. Shots by the end of the 20 minutes of play were 10-7 in favour of the Cents. Both goaltenders looked sharp in the opening frame. Jacob Berger was in his best shape of the preseason stopping all Chiefs players, but his counterpart Daniel Chenard was equal to the task as well.
In the second, the parade to the penalty box continued. Matt Kopperud and Powell Connor had offsetting minors, as did Rylan Van Unen and Kaden Pickering, and Auston Ghiradelli along with Lucas Albert. Needless to say, there was a lot of stick work after whistles, pushing, shoving, and face washes as neither team was backing down from the physical challenge. The Cents managed to kill off two penalties late in the period before they got a big opportunity just as time expired in the second. Bobby Young of the Chiefs got a two minute minor for tripping, and his teammate Wyatt Elmer received a 2 minute minor and 10 minute misconduct on the same play. The Cents didn't manage to convert with what time was left in the period on the two man advantage but would have a great opportunity to start the third.
Despite good puck movement on the 5-on-3 powerplay to start the third, the Cents only managed one shot with 1:47 of time to try and solve Chenard. The Chiefs and Cents went off in tandem yet again during the third period after Tyrell Buckley and Jared Turcotte got into a mix up. The Cents got a chance to go ahead when Chiefs forward Ryan Miotto went to the box with around 13 minutes to go in the third, but once again they couldn't convert with the man advantage.
However, shortly after they finally did break the deadlock. New winger, Christian Sabin, streaked down the wing, and as he was looping around the far side corner about to head behind the net he threw a pass right onto a waiting Alex Bourhas in the slot between the hash marks who ripped it mid-blocker side on Chenard for the first goal of the game. It came with 11:58 to go in the third.
After the Cents broke the goose egg, the Chiefs came to life, pressing even harder than before. It didn't take them long to convert as just over a minute later Skyler Brind'Amour, son of NHL'er Rod Brind'Amour, was well positioned in front to bang home a rebound off a Harrison Blaisdell shot to tie things up at ones.
That's how the game ended after 60 minutes of play, and the Cents were off to overtime for the first time in the preseason. The Chiefs got a penalty early into the first overtime period, but the Cents couldn't convert on the 4-on-3. Joey Berkopec took a penalty late into the overtime period, but the Chiefs couldn't convert before the end of the 5 minutes of extra time.
In the second overtime, with Joey Berkopec sitting in the box, the Cents managed to kill off the nailbiting penalty. However, moments after the penalty expired newly minted captain of the Chiefs, Will Calverly, ripped a shot over the shoulder of Berger for the double OT win. The Cents were 7/7 on the penalty kill, but were 0/9 on the powerplay.
The Cents showed lots of pushback and resilience in what was one of their most consistent performances of the preseason against one of the powerhourses in the BCHL. But after 5 games of the preseason the Cents fell to 1-4, with their lone win coming in the preseason opener. The roster currently sits at 27 players, and needs to get down to 23 for the start of the regular season next friday against the Penticton Vees.
The Merritt Centennials took some time away from the rink to get to know their teammates better this week.
The team building trip took place in Little Shushwaps Indian Band's Pow Wow grounds from Monday to Wednesday, and the team was able to forget about what can be the high stress situation of making the Centennials roster.
Head coach and General Manager Joe Martin says that the team had a number of activities lined up.
"It's a chance to get to know people on a different level and have some fun. We played some baseball, white water rafting."
Martin also mentioned that the purpose of the trip was to bring the game of hockey back to it's roots.
"Even though it's a difficult time of year for these young men, it still should be enjoyable with what they're going through. So that's what we tried to do, bring it back to the roots of having some fun."
We will see if the Cents carry over their team building to preseason action against the visiting Chilliwack Chiefs on Friday night.
The Merritt Centennials faced the West Kelowna Warriors for the second time in two nights. The Warriors won the opener, and on Saturday night in front of a healthy host of home fans, the Centennials couldn't convert on their chances and fell 5-1 to West Kelowna.
The first period was even through the first 5 minutes with both teams trading chances, but against the flow of play on a counter attack defender Bryon Moradshadi of the Warriors was able to streak down the wing and get a shot on the Cents Jake Berger who kicked it out and onto the stick of a streaking Jared Marino who put the puck into the net for the 1-0 lead.
The Warriors added a goal late, when a bobble by the Cents defense allowed Willie Reim to gather the puck in tight, and he made a nice move backhand-forehand to slip it through the 5-hole of Berger for the 2-0 lead, and that's how the 1st ended.
The West Kelowna Warriors used a 27-save performance by Nik Amundrud and a five-goal outburst for a 5-1 victory over the Merritt Centennials on Saturday night at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.
The Cents didn't start the second period as they drew it up in the dressing room, as the Warriors pounced twice within the first minute of play to make it 3-0. Tyler Jutting wired a shot past Berger's glove, and just 27 seconds later RJ Murphy received a cross ice pass and went five hole on Berger to make it 4-0.
The Warriors got their work done during the early goings of the period, and the score remained at 3-0 after 40 minutes of play. Halfway through the period there was a goaltending change. Berger allowed 4 goals on 26 shots, and his counterpart for the Warriors, Nik Amundrud, was perfect in his action stopping all 27 shots he faced. Berger gave way to Jon Holloway, and Amundrud left the net to Billy Girard for the remainder of the game.
In the 3rd, the Centennials came out with a bit more energy, but still surrendered the first goal of the period. Bennett Norlin managed to beat Holloway, blocker side, to put the Warriors up 5-0.
The Cents responded just a minute later when Blake Sidoni had a text book screen in front, and managed to deflect a Jackson Munro point shot up and over Girard for the lone tally for the Cents to make it 5-1. Shortly after, Sidoni made a move in tight that went off the crossbar and out, and was amongst the strongest Cents on the ice. Despite not finding the back of the net, Alex Bourhas was a bulldog on the ice always going after the puck with intent and pace. Holloway finished the game with 11 saves on 12 shots.
After the game, Head Coach and General Manager Joe Martin said that in a game like this it gives them a good read on who has a heartbeat out there against the odds.
"You're looking for guys when it's not going your way to somehow change the game in your favour... you have to show something. You're looking for guys like that, not guys that go out there and cave. The positive thing is, it helped us make some decisions."
The Cents are now 1-2-0-0 in the Preseason and will next face the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on Wednesday, August 30th for a rematch after topping them 7-4 in the first preseason match earlier this week.
The Merritt Centennials fought valiantly over 3 periods last night. Despite getting out to the early lead, and carrying that through most of the game. The West Kelowna Warriors managed to come back and secure a victory by a score of 4-3 over the Cents in exhibition play yesterday night at Royal LePage Place.
The Cents opened the scoring with the lone goal of the first period. Jack Vincent, who's looked impressive so far through camp and preseason, sped down the right wing and found Mitch Ledyard back door who made no mistake to put Merritt in front.
Vincent Duplessis got the start for the Centennials and proved to be good yet again, stopping all eight shots he faced in the first. On the other end, Billy Girard stopped 9 of the 10 shots he faced for the Warriors.
In the second period, the teams traded goals. The Centennials got one early with Frazer Dodd deflecting a Jake Berry shot five hole on Girard to make it 2-0, but the Warriors answered shortly after with a nice passing play finished by Willie Reim to cut the lead in half at 2-1.
The third period saw the Cents get into a bit of penalty trouble as they surrendered a goal on a 5-on-3 at the midway point of the period. Warriors veteran Jake Harrison was able to slap a one-timer past Jordan Naylor who came in for 3rd period duty, and just 13 seconds later Harrison was able to beat Naylor again with a good move in tight. In a short span, the West Kelowna Warriors had their first lead 3-2.
The Cents managed to answer towards the late stages of the game with Ledyard getting his second goal of the game, a one-timer from the right face-off dot to even things up at 3, but again the Warriors responded quickly as Chase Dubois pounced on a broken play and was able to beat Naylor to makeit 4-3, the eventual final.
Merritt saw strong performances by Vincent, Dodd, Ledyard (2), and Duplessis once again. Duplessis stopped 17 of 18 shots before giving way to Naylor in the third who made 9 saves on 12 shots.
Merritt heads back home for a redemption game tonight at 7pm at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena. Tickets 5 dollars at the door.