The Merritt Centennials announced yesterday that they acquired a defenseman.
The Cents traded for 18-year-old Joey Berkopec from the Burlington Cougars of the Ontario Junior Hockey League for future considerations.
In his first season with the Cougars, Berkopec put up 4 assists along with 40 penalty minutes, and dressed in 10 playoff games.
Head Coach and General Manager Joe Martin says he sees Berkopec taking big strides this year.
“We expect Joey to be a significant piece on our blueline this season. He is a solid, two-way defender who should excel in the BC Hockey League.”
This is the second player Martin has acquired from Ontario this offseason, after signing Ashton Stockie last week.
Head Coach and General Manager Joe Martin confirmed news that some of the Cents best performers from 2016-17 will be moving on to USHL teams for the coming year.
The news doesn't come as a surprise as the players were drafted high in this spring's USHL draft. Forwards Tyler Ward, Michael Regush, Zach Risteau, and defenseman Zach Metsa won't be donning the red and black next season. Martin says that throughout the summer his staff has been hoping for the best, and preparing for the worst.
"Two of the four we held out a little bit longer to see where they were at, but we made roster decisions like they were gone."
All told they combined for 57 goals, 86 assists, and 143 points, but Martin says that this is an opportunity for new and returning players to step in and fill the void.
"What it does is provide other players an opportunity that maybe they wouldn't have been provided because other players that have proved it in the past are leaving. So it's up for grabs."
The first goals will be scored when the Penticton Vees come to the Nicola Valley Memorial arena on September 8th for the season opener.
The Centennials are stocking up as they head into main camp.
It was announced today that the Centennials have acquired forward Ashton Stockie from the Kitchener Dutchmen of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL). In 49 games with the Dutchmen, Stockie put up 12 goals and 22 assists for 34 points. He added 10 points in 11 playoff games.
Head Coach and General Manager Joe Martin says that he looks forward to Stockie contributing in all areas of the ice.
"He's a big strong kid, who's going to help us in the faceoff circle. I can see him helping in all sorts of facets of the game whether that's in the offensive zone, defensize zone, or special teams."
The move comes a month away from main camp.
The Merritt Centennials announced today that veteran goaltender Jacob Berger will return to the team for the 2017-18 season.
Berger, a 20-year-old from Minnetonka, Minnesota, joined the Cents last season from the Phoenix Jr. Coyotes U18 team. In 39 games in Merritt, Berger went 18-18-2 with 1 shutout.
His efforts earned him a spot on the BCHL All-Rookie Team and Berger’s numbers improved in the playoffs, where he had a 7-4-0 record.
Head Coach and GM Joe Martin says that despite his age, Berger can still earn a committment from a Division 1 college should he build on his performance.
"A lot of quality goaltenders in our league are usually 20. So for Jake I'm looking forward to him building on a rookie season last year, and following it up with an even better one this year.
The Centennials Goaltender will have to be good from the first puck drop as the home and season opener sees the Penticton Vees come to town on September 8th.
After the Centennials' AGM two things are clear: they're in better financial standing then they have been in several years, and they have a new program to help them pack the rink.
The Centennials are reporting a surplus due in large part to a program initiated by Aspen Planers. By receiving partial proceeds from timber salvage from the Pine Beetle problem, the Cents were able to add over 200,000 dollars to their revenue streams. Director of Hockey Operations, Brian Barrett, says, "We hadn't had an amount for quite a while, and then they got on the program again so we were very fortunate to be able to get a large amount of money out of that."