The Merritt Centennials are set to open their spring camp this weekend at the NVMA from Friday April 5th to Sunday April 7th and there's a healthy dose of locals in the mix.
Among the 100 invitees, 6 local products will be participating, as well as 3 younger brothers of current or former Centennials.
The name most familiar to Cents fans is the youngster who's proven you can make the hometown team. Talon Zakall will participate in a supporting role along with some other veterans to help run camp. Joining Talon to help with camp will be defenders Mattias Dal Monte, Mike Van Unen, and Jackson Munro along with forwards Rylan Van Unen, Ben Ward, and Brett Roloson. In his rookie season Zakall got into 45 games putting up one goal and 9 assists.
Chase Cooke is a name already known to the Merritt Minor hockey community. He won a provincial championship in Peewee, and has added to his trophy collection since then. Last season, the 2003 born defender spent time with the Thompson Blazers Minor Midget program and tallied a goal and 13 assists in 28 games played.
Atrayu Johnny is in his second stint at Centennials camp. The 2002 born Merritt local was one of the final cuts to the roster before last season began, and spent his season with the Princeton Posse of the KIJHL. With Princeton he had 6 points (1 goal) in 45 games played.
Another name known to Merritt is Anthony Tulliani. The 2000 born forward spent last season with the Osoyoos Coyotes of the KIJHL and had a goal and 5 assists in 41 games.
A pair of Merritt Midget alums are set to challenge camp as well. Colton MacCauley served as the teams goaltender and saw a ton of rubber over the season, and Justin Vinterwick is also in the mix in camp.
Assistant Coach Brandon Shaw says that continuing to develop local talent is great for not only the team, but the town.
"It's great to have the locals out. We want to be a part of building the hometown talent. If it leads to them making the roster, if it leads to them playing Junior B, or if it sets them up to be a part of the team in the future - that's huge. It's also great for Merritt to see the local talents that's on display, and I encourage fans to come check it out."
The other story line heading in to camp is some of the brothers that are hoping to follow in the footsteps of some current or former Centennials.
Younger brother to the Van Unen twins, Josh will suit up in camp. He was an affiliate player twice during the season, failing to register a point but impressing the coaching staff nonetheless. The 2001 born forward had an impressive season at Shawnigan Lake Academy of the CSSHL where he scored 26 goals, added 36 assists in 29 games played and managed to register 2 points a game. He will be itching to join older brother Rylan on next years roster.
Nick Wicks may be leaving the Centennials for the University of Alaska Anchorage, but younger brother Garrett will be looking to continue the former Captain's legacy. The 2001 born forward, Garrett suited up in 6 BCHL games this season, one of which against the Cents where he registered one of his two assists on the year. He spent the majority of last season as the Captain of the Greater Vancouver Canadians in the BCMML where he scored 18 goals, and set up 24 for 42 points in 38 games.
The 3rd brother to be in the mix has some NHL bloodlines just like his older brother Brett. Ross Roloson is a defenseman who spent last season with the Northern Alberta Elite 15 squad of the CSSHL putting up 6 goals and 17 points over 35 games.
"These younger brothers really reflect the characteristics of what has made their older brothers successful, but each brings something unique to their own game that will help them be great Junior players in the future."
With the camp having 5 teams going head to head over the three days, Assistant Coach Shaw says that each player will have to bring what they do best.
"We want players to come in and play their game, but hopefully find those that fit into what we are trying to build. We play a high tempo, exciting game with a blue collar work ethic like the town itself, but what I'm looking for is players that showcase their best, try their hardest, and show some character."
Below is the camp schedule over Friday, Saturday, and Sunday should any fans want to come and check it out.
Friday April 5
1200pm - Blue v. Red
130pm – Yellow v. White
300pm – Blue v. Grey
430pm – Red v. Yellow
600pm White v. Grey
Saturday April 6
1000am – Blue v. Yellow
1130am – Red v. White
100pm – Yellow v. Grey
230pm – Blue v. White
400 pm Red v. Grey
700pm – Gold Game – 1st v. 2nd
Sunday April 7
900am GAME: TEAM MUCKALT vs. TEAM BEERS
1100am GAME: TEAM WATTERS vs. TEAM KRUSE
200pm GAME: TEAM BIRKS vs. TEAM WILLCOX
The final tallies are in, and after the final bid was cast at 8pm last Friday night the Cents raised $6275 for two great causes.
The proceeds will be split between two causes that help support Mental Health Awareness in their respective fields. The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Kamloops will be one of the beneficiaries of half the proceeds while the other half will go to support the Ty Pozzobon Foundation.
Business Operations Manager Jared Thomas says the funds and the auction help further the cause of awareness.
"I think it's a great showing by the Centennials organization to ensure that two charities will receive some much needed support in their quest to raise Mental Health Awareness. We've seen the issue really come to the fore across the sports landscape, and also in day to day life. There are many who suffer, sometimes in silence, and we hope that by supporting these causes and getting the word out there we give those people courage to reach out for help."
The highest earning jersey was naturally the late Ty Pozzobon at $600, but the highest current Centennials bid went to MVP Nick Granowicz who netted $490 for the respective charities.
The $6275 is slightly more than last years 3rd jersey auction of $6105 despite having less Alumni jerseys available for auction.
At the start of the round of 16, 7 Centennials Alumni were in the running to make it to the NCAA's Frozen Four - the final four that will compete for the NCAA Championship.
After this weekend's action, only 2 Centennials Alums remain - Brandon Duhaime and Tyler Ward.
Former goaltender Jacob Berger's Minnesota State Mavericks were sent home in the first round with a loss to the Providence Friar's 6-3. Former defender Jake Clifford was part of ASU's historic first berth into the tornament, but fell to Quinnipiac in round one as well 2-1.
Former Centennials Nick Jermain and Zach Metsa of Quinnipiac were eliminated in second round action by Minnesota Duluth by a score of 3-1. Former stand out Michael Regush and his team Cornell were topped by Brandon Duhaime and the Providence Friar's.
Kamloops native and former forward Tyler Ward is now with Denver University and they got by Ohio State in round 1 by a score of 2-0 and then blanked upstart AIC 3-0 on route to the final four.
The remaining Cents are on opposite ends of the Frozen Four bracket, and have the opportunity to set up a no-lose alumni situation should both their teams win their berth into the final.
Action for the Frozen Four starts Thursday April 11th before the final on April 13th.
The Texas Stars of the American Hockey League have announced the signing of former Centennials forward Diego Cuglietta to an amateur tryout for the remainder of the 2018-19 season.
Cuglietta played for the Centennials from 2012 -2015 and amassed 128 points in 149 games played over 3 seasons of hockey in the BCHL. His best offensive year came in 2013-14 where he scored 19 goals and added 37 assists for 56 points in 53 games played.
Over his career in NCAA Division I with Lake Superior State, the Kamloops, British Columbia native tallied 50 goals and 50 assists for 100 career points in 147 games. This season, Cuglietta leads NCAA Division I Men's Hockey in goals scored (25), while ranking second in faceoff wins (501). He also set career highs in goals and points (41) this season, tied his career high in assists (16), and led the Lakers with a +24 rating this season.
As captain of the Lakers, Cuglietta earned First Team All-WCHA honors, was a WCHA All-Academic Team selection, was named the Great Lakes Invitational MVP, garnered NCAA Third Star of the Week honors and was named a WCHA Forward of the Week . He is also a nominee for the 2019 Hobey Baker Award.
Head Coach Joe Martin remembers Cuglietta for his work ethic.
"Cuglietta was a guy that would do anything for his team mates, and would always be listening for ways he can improve. He is the definition of what hard work can do, always like a dog on a bone. A great, and I mean GREAT person, and someone who always had a great attitude and an infectious smile."
The Texas Stars are the primary development affiliate of the National Hockey League's Dallas Stars.
The Merritt Centennials are proud to announce that Christian Sabin has committed to the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) for the 2019/20 season.
The New Hudson, Michigan product joined the Centennials ahead of the 2017/18 campaign and put up 15 points in 44 games. This season Sabin more than doubled his production with 37 points while being one of six Centennials to play in all 58 games.
At MSOE, he joins one of the top 10 engineering schools in the United States and will play in the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association (NCHA) division of NCAA Division 3.
Head Coach of the Raiders Graham Johnson says that a player like Sabin is just what they look for.
"We are very excited to have Christian commit to our program. He is not only a talented player, but he has the character and competitiveness we are looking for in our student athletes."
The Cents would like to wish Sabin and his family the best as he moves on to his hockey and academic career beyond the BCHL.
The Centennials now boast 11 commitments this year - the most in program history.