The Merritt Centennials concluded their Merritt ID camp on Sunday afternoon after a weekend of ice times at the NVMA.
Due to COVID-19, there were no parents or fans allowed entry into the building, but the Centennials coaching and support staff were able to get an uninterrupted look at some potential candidates for the team this year and in the future. Split into 3 groups of 17 and again into two teams from there, aspiring Cents faced off against each other in multiple ice sessions a day. The first few ice times were allotted to drills designed to emulate coaching philosophies in the defensive, neutral, and offensive zones: breakouts, break-ins, and preferences. From there the teams broke into 3-on-3 sessions where the players got to put their skill on display with all the open ice.
Director of Hockey Operations John Stuart says that there was a dozen players that impressed enough to get the invite to Fall Evaluation Camp.
"I was verry happy with the talent at camp. Plaers left camp exhausted and happy with how everything was run. Coaching and scouting staff did a tremendous job organizing and running the camp. We plan to take 12 players from this ID camp right onto our Fall Evaluation Camp which will be the last chance to impress before we select our final roster."
With an age group varying from 2001 born to 2005 born players, the coaches and evaluators had their hands full combing through the talent that graced the ice. A couple familial connections to the Centennials organization also got a look, and perhaps a glimpse into the future. Younger brother to current Cent Ben Ward, Sam Ward (05) skated with team Black. Cousin of incoming forward Walker Erickson, Merik Erickson (04) was between the pipes for the duration of camp. Nephew to broadcaster Jared Thomas, Oliver Melnychuk (05) suited up with a veteran laden team White. There was talent from all over the BC with players from the KIJHL, PJHL, BC Major Midget, the CSSHL and beyond all represented.
Head coach Derek Sweet Coulter says the camp was a success and was a team effort from everyone involved.
"We are grateful for every player who travelled to Merritt to be here for this camp. The weekend was a complete success because of all the humble people involved. We are looking forward to an incredible year with great selfless people who are giving themselves to this great organization and making it better every day."
The Merritt ID camp was a last chance to get a look at some outliers before the invite only Fall Evaluation Camp that will take place at the NVMA from August 31st to September 3rd.
The Merritt Centennials have acquired goaltender Josh Dias (00) from the Lloydminster Bobcats of the AJHL in exchange for forward Chase Nameth (00).
Dias, a Surrey, BC native, shouldered a heavy work load with the Bobcats getting into 42 games, sporting a record of 8-30-3 with a 3.77 GAA and a .900 SV%. The Bobcats finished the season as the last place team in the AJHL's North Division finishing with a record of 11-41-6. Dias spent the previous season with the Fort McMurray Oil Barons and was 8-8-3 through 20 games of action while putting up a 3.08 GAA and a .896 SV%.
Head Coach and General Manager Derek Sweet-Coulter says Dias has all the qualities to be a starter.
"Josh is a proven starting goalie at the Jr. A level and a work horse who started 40 games last season. The experience he will bring to the team will be a welcome asset."
Nameth was a regular in the Centennials line up last season getting into 54 games. He was able to supply 8 goals and 14 assists while providing some sand paper with 53 penalty minutes.
Parts of the team along with Darius Sam will be active this Saturday from 10am - 2pm at a drive thru bottle drive on Voght Street and Nicola Ave.
The Merritt Centennials have announced two new additions to their bench staff: Levi Stuart and Jason Purpur.
Stuart will join Head Coach and GM Derek Sweet-Coulter as an Assistant Coach. Stuart has worked primarily as a video coach since 2011 with the Vancouver Giants of the WHL, the Vernon Vipers, and the Centennials last season. He has also been serving as an amateur scout for the Centennials.
Coach Sweet-Coulter says that he's excited to officially add Stuart to the staff.
"In his role as video coach last season Levi Brought professionalism, passion, energy, and a tireless work ethic to our group. He works extremely hard day to day and invests in building relationships with our players. Our players know he is a genuine person who cares about them and wants to help them reach their goals. Levi has earned the opportunity to join our staff as our full time assistant coach and I look forward to working with him on a daily basis."
Purpur joins the staff as the teams new Athletic Therapist. The Kamloops native worked with his hometown Blazers during the 2019-20 season, but before that was the Assistant Athletic Therapist with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League. Purpur also served as a Medical Liaison for the Winnipeg Jets during the NHL Heritage Classic in 2019.
Director of Hockey Operations John Stuart says adding a person of Purpur's caliber to the team will help improve player support across the board.
In addition to the new hires, the Cents will also have Merritt locals Paul Barnes and Zach Wright return behind the bench for the 2020-21 season as Assistant Coaches.
The Merritt Centennials announced today they've committed to forward Jacob 'Cubby' Myers ('02) of the Vancouver North East Chiefs in the BCMML for next season.
The Port Moody, BC native is a power forward who stands at 6' and weighs 185 pounds and brings a right handed shot to the group. Myers goes by the nickname of Cubby, a moniker he's had since he was two years old. Playing with the Chiefs last season he was able to compile 11 goals and 7 assists through 38 games while also adding 132 penalty minutes.
Head Coach and General Manager Derek Sweet-Coulter says Myers is a team first player that's willing to use everything in his arsenal to help the team win.
"Cubby has a high compete level and plays with tremendous heart and goes to the hard areas of the ice. He embraces battling for the good ice and is physical when he needs to be especially in open ice. He skates well and has a very good skill set that we will look to continue to develop this season. He understands sacrificing himself for the better of the team is extremely important to our group. I believe he will fit in well with what we are building for this season."
Myers says that the team mentality the Centennials are building is what has him excited to join the club.
"I am super excited to join a program that has such a great structure, culture and community supporting the organization. A team that is dedicated to battling for eachother."
He adds that the biggest thing he will bring to the club is that he's prepared to do whatever it takes to help the team win.
"I believe that I bring a team first mentality, I am prepared to do whatever it takes on and off the ice."
While this seasons off-season is like no other, Myers says he's training in some unique ways to be prepared for next season.
"I have been constantly striving to stay prepared during these trying times by training with whatever I can get my hands on , the neighbours are starting to get tired of the banging."
The Centennials would like to welcome Cubby and the Myers family to the organization and the Nicola Valley.
Early Bird pricing is still available for season tickets, get them today here: https://www.showpass.com/o/merritt-centennials/
(Photos: Garrett James)
The Centennials are announced today that goaltender Ryan Winter (99) has committed to the MacEwan University Griffins (USPORTS) for next season.
Winter was a warrior in the blue paint for the Centennials this season as he routinely faced 40+ shots a night. Playing the lone year in Merritt he posted a 6-20-1 record with an .892 SV%, a 4.36 GAA, and 1 shutout. Despite missing some time due to injury, Winter still managed to get into 30 games over the season.
Head Coach and General Manager Derek Sweet-Coulter says that Winter is not just technically sound, but also has the desperation to make key saves.
"Ryan is a great goaltender and person. Calm and confident presence in the net. He's not only positionally sound and moves well, but he never gives up on a play and it led to some spectacular saves."
Winter says it's the ability to stay cool under pressure that caught MacEwan's eye.
"Coach Mike Ringrose liked my calmness in net, but I think what I've learnt most here in Merritt is mental toughness."
Coach Sweet-Coulter adds that the Griffins will be getting a motivated goaltender on their roster for next year.
"MacEwan is getting an ultra competitive goaltender who is hungry for success. He's a great person who is very deserving of the opportunity as he continues his education and hockey at the next level."
Early Bird season tickets are on sale now at https://www.showpass.com/o/merritt-centennials/ or call 378-3604 for more information.