The Canadian Junior Hockey League announced Tuesday the names of the five finalists for the CJHL Coach of the Year and a familiar name is among the list.
For his efforts in the 2018-19 season, which stands as the third best regular season in Centennials history behind only the legendary Joe Tennant teams of 77 & 78, Joe Martin has been named a finalist for the CJHL's national award.
In his fourth and final year as head coach in Merritt, Martin led the team to a record of 36-15-0-4, a 24-point improvement from the 2017-18 season, including 12 more wins, to finish in a tie for first place in the Interior Division. The offensive side of the game flourished under Martin’s leadership, finishing second in the league with 220 goals for and a plus-38 goal differential while also scoring the second-most power-play goals in 2018-19 with 63. In addition to the success on the ice, The Centennials were among the league leaders in players committed to NCAA Division I programs with 11, including seven that announced their commitments during the 2018-19 season. He also served an assistant coach for Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge the last two years, winning gold in 2017 and bronze in 2018.
Martin will be up against other top coaches in the CJHL including: Ryan Papaioannou, Brooks Bandits (AJHL), Jesse Winchester, Brockville Braves (CCHL), Blake Spiller, Portage Terriers (MJHL), Mike Tarantino, Oakville Blades (OJHL),
This year’s award will be formally presented to the recipient during the NHLCA’s Global Coaches’ Clinic, June 20, in Vancouver, B.C.
The wild off-season for the Merritt Centennials continues with another alumnus inking an entry level deal with an NHL club.
Former Cent, and now former Providence College Friar, Brandon Duhaime will sign a two-year, entry-level contract that starts next season with the team that drafted him in the 4th round of the 2016 draft - The Minnesota Wild.
For now, Duhaime will report to Iowa of the American Hockey League for the rest of the season on an amateur tryout agreement. Iowa is heading into the first round of the playoffs against the Milwaukee Admirals and they're set to begin on Sunday.
The Parkland, Florida native spent the 2014-15 season with the Merritt Centennials where he racked up 6 goals and 25 points over 53 games before moving on to a year in the USHL and then Providence.
In 42 games with Providence this past season, Duhaime was among their leading scorers tallying 11 goals and 23 assists for 34 points. All three categories were career-highs for the 6-1, 200-pound forward. Duhaime also led the Friars in penalty minutes (53), tied for second in game-winning goals (three) and ranked third in scoring. The 21-year-old finished with 72 points (22 goals and 50 assists) in three seasons with Providence.
Duhaime joins Diego Cuglietta and Josh Teves as Centennials alum's who have signed with NHL or AHL affiliates this off-season.
The Merritt Centennials organization is setting a deadline for prospective applicants for the vacant Head Coach & General Manager role.
Director of Hockey Operations Brian Barrett says that the club would like to resume operations with a new steward of the team as soon as possible.
"We want to give the person who comes into the organization time to get acclimated to the community, the league, and the team with plenty of time to be prepared for next season. As such, we want to do a thorough job, but we also want to get to the interview process as quickly as we can."
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The 2019 NCAA hockey tournament is down to the Frozen Four and 18 former BCHLers, representing nine BCHL clubs, are still alive and competing for a national championship.
The Merritt Centennials will have two alums in the mix for the NCAA Division 1 Championship.
The Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs will take on the Providence Friars in the first semifinal on Thursday at 2 p.m. PDT at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, N.Y. Semifinal number two sees the Massachusetts Minutemen and the Denver Pioneers going head to head at 5:30 p.m PDT.
The Bulldogs are the defending national champions after defeating Notre Dame 2-1 in last year's final and are making their third-straight appearance in the Frozen Four after they beat Bowling Green 2-1 in overtime and Quinnipiac by a score of 3-1 to advance to the final weekend of the tournament. Quinnipiac featured 2 Centennials alums in Nick Jermain and Zach Metsa.
This will be the fifth Frozen Four appearance for Providence and the first since they won their first and only national championship in 2015 when they defeated Boston University 4-3 in the finals. There are five BCHL alums on the Friars roster, including two of the team's top scorers in Merritt Centennials alum and Minnesota Wild draft pick Brandon Duhaime (33 points) and former Penticton Vees forward Scott Conway(29 points). The Friars got to the Frozen Four by beating Minnesota State 6-3 and Cornell 4-0 on the first weekend of the tournament. Minnesota State featured former Cents goaltender Jacob Berger, and Cornell featured former Cents forward Michael Regush.
UMass is making their first ever appearance in the Frozen Four after they had a pair of 4-0 wins over Harvard and Notre Dame on the first weekend of the tournament. The Minutemen are led by Hobey Baker finalist and Hockey East Player of the Year Cale Makar. The sophomore defenceman and former AJHL standout was drafted fourth overall by the Colorado Avalanche in 2017 and won a gold medal with Team Canada at the World Junior Championships in 2018.
The Pioneers lead the way with 10 BCHL grads on their roster. This is the third time in the last four years Denver has made it to the Frozen Four and their first since winning their eighth national championship in 2017, which is second only to Michigan's nine titles. Like UMass, they have yet to surrender a goal during the tournament as they beat Ohio State 2-0 and American International 3-0 on the opening weekend. The Pioneers have former Centennials forward Tyler Ward on the roster who has 5 goals and 9 assists on the year.
Thursday's semifinals will be broadcast on TSN2. The national championship game takes place on Saturday at 5p.m. PST and will be broadcast on TSN.ca and on the TSN app.
Nearly 100 players descended upon Merritt and the NVMA over the weekend to compete for a spot on the Merritt Centennials.
With players from across BC joining the camp from various levels, and various ages Assistant Coach Brandon Shaw says the coaching staff now has some hard decisions to make.
"It's easy to watch and pick out what some players do well and what some need to improve upon, but now it's on the coaching staff, scouts, and others who help with our camp to go over notes and decide who we like for next season, who we'll keep on the radar, and who might be an affiliate for next year. These young men came here and showed their best, so it's up to us to do them justice and give them some solid feedback."
Coach Shaw adds that the next step for those that impressed will be Summer Camp.
"In Merritt we treat this as an identification camp, and we'll invite the players that showed well to our Summer Camp in Abbotsford. There will be players from all over Canada and the US attending that camp, and the main goal from there is to make it to our 30 player main camp ahead of the season."
Time will tell how the 5 locals (Chase Cooke, Atrayu Johnny, Colton MacCauley, Anthony Tulliani, and Justin Vinterlick) along with the 3 younger brothers (Garrett Wicks, Josh Van Unen, and Ross Roloson) figure into the future of the Centennials.
The Cents will host their Summer Camp from June 7th -9th in Abbotsford. Registration details to come shortly.