Merritt Centennials
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The Merritt Centennials have made another trade with Barry Wolff's former club as they've sent defenseman Mattias Dal Monte ('00) to the Swan Valley Stampeders in exchange for defenseman Troy Quinn ('99).

A native of Nepean, Ontario, Quinn spent the entirety of last season with the Stampeders. The 6'4", 200 pound defender supplied 5 goals and 19 points in 40 games throughout the regular season and added another 9 points, with two goals in the post season that saw the Stampeders come just a goal away in game 7 of the MJHL finals.

Head Coach and General Manager Barry Wolff says that Quinn is a big body who has the full tool kit.

"He's a big horse, he's hard to play against, gritty, strong skater. He can play just about any situation, can come in and be a leader. He's a great acquisition for us."

Dal Monte was coming into his 3rd season in Merritt, but never truly got his chance to shine. Last season despite playing only 40 games he put up 4 goals and 5 assists along with 41 penalty minutes.

Quinn will get in some practice time with the Cents before the first official exhibition game against the Penticton Vees on Friday. 

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The Centennials opened main camp on Monday morning with a number of new faces vying for a spot on the team. The search for the 2019-20 roster has attracted players from as near as the Cents home town and surrounding area to as far as Eastern Canada.

The Cents are taking the first two days to have a thorough look at the invitees, of which their are over 80 including goalies. The returning Centennials and Junior 'A' veterans will take part in some goalie sessions, but won't officially get going until Wednesday morning after the first releases.

Among the attendees are a few Merritt locals. Goaltender Colton Macaulay (01) will be among the many goalies trying to making an impression on Head Coach Barry Wolff along with former AP Jakob Gullmes (02), who spent time with the 100 Mile Wranglers. Forward Cody Dick (02) has some ties to Merritt as well as Atrayu Jonny (02) and Chase Cooke (03) who will be attending their second straight main camp for the Cents.

Some names that are familiar to Cents fans are defenseman Ross Roloson (03), younger brother  of Brett, and son of former NHL goaltender Duane Roloson. Garrett Wicks (01), younger brother of Centennials Captain for 2018-19 Nick Wicks will be looking to carve out a spot among the forwards. Kaden Zakall (03), cousin of hometown hero Talon will also be trying to impress the Cents brass in the two day audition segment of camp.

Head Coach and General Manager Barry Wolff says that he's looking for compete and whatever a player does best.

"We're looking for players to fill holes throughout the line-up, and it starts with the work ethic and the compete. We want to see everyone playing to their strengths and what makes them great hockey players because we will need all types of players to make a complete team."

Camp continues Tuesday with scrimmages at 8am, 9:15am, 10:30am, and 11:45 before player interviews and cutting down the roster for Wednesday's practices and intrasquad game.

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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.

 

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The Merritt Centennials announced earlier today that they have traded defender Jaydon Fetter('99) back to the Leamington Flyers of the GOJHL in exchange for future considerations.

The Windsor, Ontario native spent the 2018-19 season with the Merritt Centennials, but will be going back to his home province to rejoin his former club in Leamington. With the Centennials Fetter picked up 22 assists in 52 games played during the regular season, and didn't register a point in 3 playoff games. He returns to the GOJHL where he has 56 points in 95 games played - all with the Flyers.

With the move the Centennials now have 4 returning or traded for ahead of camp: Joey Berkopec, Mattias Dal Monte, Talon Zakall, and Olson Werenka. 

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The Merritt Centennials held their Annual Alumni Golf Tournament over the August long weekend, and despite battling the circumstances of a long weekend and the crowds of Rockin' River they were able to raise just over $14,500 from the support of golfers, alumni, sponsors, and the local Merritt Golf and Country Club.

The low round on the day was a combined 10 under 62 from newcomers Greg Smith, Jared Smith, Chris Ryan, and Richard Lee. However, there were some groups of alumni in the mix. The foursome of Blake Stephen, Ryan Evardson, Nick Fidanza, and Matt Hans placed second two off the pace at 8 under 64.

Ryan Evardson was the winner of a challenging putting contest while Greg Smith also captured the closest to the pin.

Business Operations Manager Jared Thomas says that it all came together despite facing some difficulties.

"Our biggest enemy this year was the date of the tournament, but there wasn't much we could do to change it. Going up against peoples summer plans and one of the biggest weekends in Merritt was difficult, but I would like to thank everyone who was in the field, our sponsors, the local business community, and the Merritt Golf and Country Club for helping us pull it off."

With the tournament concluded, the Cents season is fast approaching. Main Camp opens on August 19th with the first exhibition game of the season happening on August 24th at home against the Penticton Vees.

 

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