The ice is back in at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena and we’re officially one week away from Cents main camp opening on August 19.
The Centennials have gone through an offseason of change after a first-round exit from last year’s playoffs versus Trail.
Gone is the BCHL coach of the year Joe Martin and his assistant Brandon Shaw to Alberni. Welcome, Barry Wolff and Derek Sweet-Coulter as your new duo behind the bench.
Gone is Captain Nick Wicks, starting goaltender Austin Roden, and six other graduating players to the NCAA. Welcome, Matt Osadick, Olson Werenka, and a goalie hopefully to be named later.
With all the changes this could easily be 50 burning questions, but I’ll cap it at two for today.
1. Who’s going to keep that little black vulcanized rubber disc out of the net?
Three weeks ago, I wrote an article on the current goaltender situation for the Centennials or lack there off for that matter (That full article can be found here). Since then all has been calm on the tender front.
Coach Barry Wolff has expressed his desire to find and bring in a veteran goalie but with a week to go until camp opens that opening remains vacant and so too does the depth chart with zero goalies inked.
There are two answers to this question.
Number one is easily the preferred outcome, Wolff finds his man at the eleventh hour and they enter camp with an established starter and a fight for the backup role.
Number two, the Cents enter camp next Monday and the handful of goalies invited fight tooth and nail for the two available spots. While less appealing in the short term, only one BCHL team misses the playoffs each year and a rough start from an unexperienced goalie could be overcome.
2. Who’s going to lead the offense?
Merritt saw eight players graduate to the NCAA level this offseason. Quick math shows those players taking 60 per cent of the Cents points with them. While turnover is nothing new in the BCHL where the goal is to get players to the next level, filling the void won’t be an easy job.
The only answer to this question is the hope that with more ice time players step up. Last year’s energy line of Brett Roloson, Ben Ward and Frazer Dodd along with Daniel Tkac, Payton Matsui and Vincent Guy combined to fill out the bottom six on most nights last year and totaled 67 points. For comparison sake leading scorer Bradley Cocca had 68 alone.
Also returning from last year is Rylan Van Unen who collected 27 points. The returning forward corps will undoubtedly need to find another gear if this year's team is to be successful.
The Cents will also be looking to recent acquisition Matt Osadick to replicate and hopefully even improve on his effort from a year ago in Manitoba. Osadick was brought in from Swan Valley (MJHL) where he was their third-leading scorer with 63 points in 45 games.
The first chance to see the new look Cents will be on August 24 in preseason action versus Penticton at the NVMA.
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt