(Graphic – Jared Thomas)
Merrittonians got their first look at the new team yesterday evening as the Cents played their annual white vs black intra-squad game.
Fans in attendance were treated to a thrilling game that couldn’t be contained to 60 minutes. Team White stormed back in the final frame to force OT with Carson Preston tipping home the winner.
Returning players look primed to take a step forward
The bulk of the returning Centennials players didn’t suit up during the first two days of camp but that didn’t seem to slow them down.
In the first frame, Brett Roloson found twine for the opening salvo. Roloson showcased his speed all game long.
Payton Matsui was the Cents playoff MVP last year and he hasn’t lost a step completing a natural hat trick for Team Black.
Vincent Guy was key in Team White’s comeback effort, flying down the left wing before wiring a rocket to the top corner for the tying goal late in the final frame.
New acquisitions find their footing
While he couldn’t find the goal column Matt Osadick showed glimpses of being a difference-maker for Merritt this year. On multiple occasions, he showcased his wicked shot and high hockey IQ.
Former Salmon Arm Silverback rearguard Olson Werenka showed why Head Coach Barry Wolff traded for him, using his size to muscle the opposition off the puck in the defensive zone. He also had a few good rushes up the ice, including one in OT which almost ended the game.
Tanner Mortenson dropped the gloves in a third-period bout versus Brophy Dunne. Dunne won the tilt by unanimous decision scoring the takedown and drawing blood.
The battle continues for the blue paint
Six goalies remain on the roster with all the tenders manning the cage for one frame.
Caelen Armstrong from White City Saskatchewan was the only goalie to pitch a shutout.
Merrittonian Colton MaCaulay allowed one goal in his twenty minutes of work for Team Black.
Dylan Kosik from Kanata provided the most action beginning the third period with a turnover behind his net that led to Matsui’s hat trick goal. Kosik would settle in from there to make two sensational saves. One saw him reach back to somehow keep the puck out, the second had him go strong from right to left for the pad save on a two-on-one.
Your next chance to see the Cents will be Saturday at the NVMA versus Penticton, puck drop 7 PM.
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt
Earlier today it was announced that former Centennials defender Colten Gerlib has made a commitment for the 2019/20 BCIHL season with the SFU Clan.
A native of Kamloops, Gerlib played with the Cents during the 2017-18 season where he put up 12 points in 44 games before being traded early last year to the Nipawin Hawks of the SJHL. In Nipawin, Gerlib took flight as an offensive puck-moving defenseman, netting 21 points in 54 games.
SFU head coach Mark Coletta likes Gerlib's speed and said in a statement that he is hoping it will ease his transition to the BCIHL.
“Most players coming in need to adjust to the size of the players and speed of our game. Colten’s skating should help him quite a bit, we’re hoping he can be an impact player for us.”
Gerlib plans on entering the Business Administration program at SFU.
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.
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.
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