The Merritt Centennials announced today that they've committed to defender Alek Erichuk (01) for the upcoming season.
The hulking Kamloops native standing at 6'4" and 210 pounds is poised to join the Cents after spending the last two seasons with the Nelson Leafs of the KIJHL. The right handed D-man was relied upon in all situations last year with the Leafs putting up 7 goals and 18 assists for 25 points in 29 games. He was also able to add 4 points in 6 games before the playoffs were suspended.
Head Coach and General Manager Derek-Sweet Coulter says that Erichuk has a lot of different abilities that will make him a good defender in this league.
"Alek is a solid puck moving defenceman, he is able to take away time and space quickly from opponents with his long reach and keeps the play in front of him. He has great awareness with the ability to read the play and make the high percentage decision. He sees the ice very well, and had success as the QB on his teams power play last season where he excelled at getting his shot through from the point."
Erichuk says that he's excited to join a storied franchise that's close to home.
"There's a long hockey history in Merritt which shows how much support this team has from the community. I'm proud to get to play for the Cents and be a part of that history. I'm also really happy to play close to home. I live in Knutsford and Merritt is only 45 minutes away. My family will be able to come to all of our home games, which my mom is very excited about."
Erichuk adds that he likes to get into the action at both ends of the ice.
"I see the ice well so I think I play a two-way game. I know when to support the rush from behind and defend with my stick and body. But I'm also a passer who can join the rush and make plays."
During the off-season Erichuk plans to do what he can in the limited capacity to be ready for camp.
"This summer I'm working on increasing my foot speed, building up my endurance, and getting bigger and stronger."
Coach Sweet-Coulter is excited to not only add the skills that Erichuk can bring to the team, but the character.
"Alek is a high end character person who understands our family first culture, and is extremely grateful and excited to be a part of the Merritt Centennials."
The Centennials would like to welcome Alek and his family to the team and the Nicola Valley community.
The Merritt Centennials are announcing that the Early Bird Deadline for season tickets is being extended to May 31st effective immediately.
The Deadline was set to expire on April 30th, but due to the Covid-19 crisis, the Cents want to ensure that season ticket holders can renew their seats at the discounted rate.
Business Operations Manager Jared Thomas says that despite having tickets available online this season, not all fans are able to take advantage.
"We know that some of our fan base may not be able to navigate the online purchasing procedure. We are extending the deadline until fans will get a chance to purchase tickets at the Marketing Office. If restrictions don't relax by May 31st, we'd look into extending the deadline once more."
The Cents would like to thank all the fans for their patience and support during this time.
The Merritt Centennials are announced today that they've committed to Forward Carson Preston (01) of the Aldergrove Kodiaks (PJHL).
The Langley, BC native is another player who relies on speed, skill, work ethic, and compete as he comes in at 5'7" and 160 pounds. Preston started off the 2019-20 campaign with a very strong Revelstoke Grizzlies (KIJHL) club that had a strong nucleus of returning players from their Cyclone Taylor Cup championship. In a limited role, Preston put up 4 points in 13 games before making the move to the Aldergrove Kodiaks of the PJHL. After joining the Kodiaks, and getting more of an opportunity on the depth chart, Preston's numbers sky rocketed where he put up 15 goals and 10 assists for 25 points in 21 games. Preston also was a huge factor in the abbreviated playoff run for the Kodiaks putting up 7 goals and 6 assists in 9 games on the teams march to the PJHL Championship series against the North Vancouver Wolf Pack before the season was cancelled due to Covid-19. Fans will also remember Preston from the exhibition season last year, where provided some offense before being one of the final cuts.
Preston says that playing for the Centennials and in the BCHL has always been a dream of his.
"It's always been my goal to play in the BCHL. Growing up I've spent my summers at Nicola Lake and Merritt has become a second home to me in the off-season, I can't wait to make it my home during the season. I went to main camp last year and everybody in the organization and in the community was great to me."
Director of Hockey Operations John Stuart says that Preston is a player he's followed for a long time, and knows he will fit the Centennials core beliefs.
"Carson is a player I have known and followed for 10 years. I know his character, his work ethic, and his values and that he will bring them day in and day out to the Merritt Centennials. Carson is a student of the game and is constantly striving to learn and develop. He's a team first player that is happier for team success than his own. This past season Carson showed he has great leadership, talent, work ethic and above all that he's a good teammate. He is exactly the type of player the Merritt Centennials are looking for moving forward."
Preston says that he brings a number of tools to the table, but a few stand out above the rest.
"I plan on using my speed, offensive skill, and tenacity to help the Cents however I can."
Over the off-season Preston plans to put the work in to be ready to join the Cents.
"I will be working a lot on my speed, and spending a lot of time in the gym working on my size and strength."
Fans can look forward to seeing him on the ice next season.
The Merritt Centennials announced today that they've committed to forward Alex Ochitwa (02) for the 2020-21 season.
A native of Prince George, BC, the 5'6, 160 pound, left shot forward may be small in stature, but he's high in skill. Playing the past two seasons in the BC Major Midget League with the Cariboo Cougars the Ochitwa is over a point-per-game producer. In his inaugural BCMML campaign he was able to contribute 17 goals and 18 assists in 40 games during the regular season and added 5 points as the Cougars took home the Championship Banner and the Cromie Memorial Trophy. This past season despite being shortened with injury to just 30 games, Ochitwa was able to continue his upwards trajectory and net 23 goals and 31 assists in just 30 games.
Ochitwa says he is looking forward to what the Cents are building.
"I'm most excited about the atmosphere being built in Merritt. The culture the team is creating looks like it could build towards something very special. Being a part of a team-first program is very promising and I'm excited to contribute to that. Also, very excited to join such a long standing organization."
The new recruit says that he brings a number of things to his game, but he knows and is ready to play Cents hockey.
"Hard work is always a key value for the Cents and that is something I'm committed to bring. I think the creative aspect of my game is something I can contribute to the team and hope to help bring some offence."
Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter says he's excited to add a player that checks not only the offensive boxes, but the overall character boxes as well.
"Alex is a dynamic and creative offensive player who has great East/West ability. More importantly he is a person of tremendous character and will be a big part of our team first culture moving forward. He understands that with team success first, personal success will follow. He is a positive leader and a determined individual that wants to get better every day. We are extremely excited to add this talented player and great person to our organization. We have done extensive research on Alex and we have no doubt he will fit our new culture and represent the Cents core values on and off the ice."
Ochitwa says he's ready to train hard to make sure he's ready for the season ahead.
"My summer is geared towards working on my speed and strength. Becoming faster and stronger will help open up ice for myself and teammates."
Cents fans can look forward to seeing Alex in action at main camp in Merritt on the eve of the season.
The Merritt Centennials announced yesterday that Captain Rylan Van Unen has committed to Northern Michigan University for the 2020-21 season.
Van Unen is a rare specimen in the BCHL in that he spent his entire 4 year junior career with one team, the Centennials. In total, the Captain got into 212 regular season games and 16 playoff games during his tenure registering 50 goals and 45 assists over that span to go along with 213 penalty minutes. Characterized by his honest north-south game, Rylan also possesses breakaway speed, a lethal shot, and a grinders mentality that should serve him well at the next stage in his hockey career.
Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter says its the work ethic that sets Van Unen apart.
"I am extremely happy for Rylan. He has worked hard for this opportunity and I can't wait to see him succeed at the next level. His work ethic is second to none andhe's a great leader and person. I am proud of him and wish him nothing but success in his new journey."
The departing Captain Van Unen says that he's excited to be joining a program on the rise and the prospect of playing with a familiar face.
"I couldn't be happier to join a program like Northern Michigan, and I'm especially excited to play with my brother again. I'd like to thank everyone in Merritt for what they have done for me in the last 4 years."
In joining the Northern Michigan Wildcats, Rylan will not only suit up with his twin brother Mike, but he will also play against former Centennials that have gone onto play in the WCHA conference in Nick Wicks, Zach Court, Tyrell Buckley, Jacob Berger and more.
The Centennials would like to thank Rylan and the Van Unen family for their commitment to the Nicola Valley community and Cents hockey over his 4 year stint, and wish them all the best on this next chapter in hockey and education.