Merritt Centennials
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The Centennials finish off 2017 with a 15-16-2-1 record, just one game below .500, and considering where they started (0-6) they've done well to get back to even ground. 

Halfway through the season we've had a mix of rookies stepping up, veterans improving, timely acquisitions, and solid goaltending to get the Cents in contention in the Interior Division. 

While hockey is a team first sport, certain individuals have broken from the pack. Here's my breakdown of Best Rookie, Best Defenseman, MVP, Most Improved, Unsung Hero, and Hardest to Play Against. 

Best Rookie: Ashton Stockie - Honorable Mentions: Matthieu Gosselin, Brendan Schneider

Coming into the year with only 8 returning players, it was a forgone conclusion that some rookies would have to elevate their game. A player who stands out for his speed, his playmaking, his tenacity, and his shot is Ashton Stockie. Anchoring a line down the middle is what gives him the edge over Matthieu 'Goose' Gosselin, and Brendan Schneider. Stockie has 19 points on the year (2nd amongst rookies and tied for 6th on the team) with 6 goals, most of those coming from his smooth shot, that's a mix of quick release and pin point accuracy. 

Best Defenseman: Tyrell Buckley - Honrable Mentions: Joey Berkopec, Jackson Munro

Tyrell Buckley and Mike Van Unen were the only two returning defenders on the back end this year for the Cents, and the Captain has been the most dominant defender through 2017. A combination of minutes played, his ability to play in any situation, reading the play, providing a physical edge, and chipping in offensively makes Tyrell Buckley the standout on the blue line. With 23 points on the year, he's 4th in team scoring, and is leading by example. When the Cents need to hang onto the lead, or push for the goal you can bet Tyrell Buckley is on the ice. 

MVP: Henry Cleghorn - Honorable Mentions: Tyrell Buckley, Jacob Berger, Zach Zorn

With a lot of offense leaving the Cents in the off season to the USHL, one of the big questions coming into the season was who was going to supply the goals? The Cents have responded with their depth up and down the line up, and this award could go to a multitude of players, but once again for anchoring the middle of the ice I will give the edge to Henry Cleghorn. First with Zach Zorn on his wing, one of the turning points of the season may have been splitting up that dynamic duo. More recently with Chase Bell and Matthieu Gosselin, Cleghorn continues to pile up the points. Now just a point behind Zach Zorn with 33 on the year, he's been a pleasant surprise up front, not to mention he notched the Cents only hat trick of the year.

Most Improved: Matthieu Gosselin - Honorable Mentions: Sam Miller, Jack Vincent

Once again this is an award that could have gone to any player on the Cents, but in terms of improvement from the beginning of the season to now Matthieu Gosselin gets the edge. Early on in the year, he was having trouble putting his skills to good use, but now he's become a great play maker with finishing ability using his speed to find open ice for himself or team mates, and he isn't afraid to get into the dirty areas and work for the puck despite being one of the Cents smaller players. He leads rookies in scoring as of the turn of the calendar with 20 points. 

Unsung Hero: Jacob Berger - Honorable Mentions: Nick Wicks, Zach Court, Austin Roden

The Cents did have one certainty coming into the season, and that was Jacob Berger coming in to be their number 1. When Vincent Duplessis went down with injury early in the season, Berger had to shoulder an even bigger workload, and briefly led the league in minutes played. He's also the only Centennials player to win Player of the Week honors from the BCHL. Everytime he's between the pipes he gives the team a chance to win. 

Hardest to Play Against: Zach Zorn - Honorable Mentions: Brendan Schneider, Joey Berkopec

This is another one that comes down to opinion, but for a player that leads the team in scoring it all comes in the hardworking package of Zach Zorn. Whether it's short handed and leading the league in goals, providing the net front presence on the powerplay, digging for loose pucks, using his speed to breakaway, or using his strength to stand up for team mates (leads the Cents in tussles with 2), Zach Zorn only has one gear and that's all out. 

Agree or Disagree?? Leave a comment and let us know who you'd give the awards to!

Cents are next in action against the Coquitlam Express on Wednesday, in Coquitlam at 7pm.  

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