As the WHL season is set to begin tomorrow, teams in the 'Dub' are finalizing their rosters and making their final cuts.
Cents Head Coach and GM Barry Wolff has managed to wrangle two new players for the squad, an 18-year-old forward from the Kamloops Blazers and a 16-year-old defenseman from the Calgary Hitman.
The forward is Jerzy Orchard who made it into 41 games last year with the Blazers recording 3 points while playing fourth-line minutes.
“He played there last year with the Blazers, and kind of one of those guys in and out of the lineup. Didn’t get a whole lot of ice at times. He brings that experience with him. We’re looking to get better and he makes us better,” said Barry.
Jon Keen, the Blazers play-by-play man, gave Q101 a bit of a scouting report on the member of the ‘All name team’.
“Jerzy just kind of fell into a numbers game, where some young players just had to be kept this year. He can really fly, he’s quick, he’s got good hands. If he can take a step in Merritt and find his offensive flair, I think it’s going to be a good fit for him,” said Jon. “He’s looking for an opportunity. If he gets that opportunity, he’ll be able to show what he can do.”
The defenseman is Tyson Galloway, a player Barry has had a close eye on from his time with the Cents early in camp.
“Galloway came in today, he skated today, and we’ll see if we can get him in on the weekend. He was at our camp, so we kind of knew we had a chance to get him if things didn’t work out with the Hitmen,” said Barry.
At only 16, Galloway still has room to develop.
“He’s never played a year of junior hockey, so this will be his first experience at that. He did play some games last year in the WHL, so he has a little bit of experience there. This is a fast league and a lot different than the western league, it's going to be a learning curve for him,” said Barry.
With two new players on the roster, more moves could be in the works, as players on the bubble will have to impress to stick around.
“We just want to get better and if those guys make us better then obviously someone’s got to go. Which is the unfortunate part of the business, but that is the business,” concluded Barry.
Galloway could factor into this weekend doubleheader versus West Kelowna and at Wenatchee, while Orchard will likely not see action until Wednesday.
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt
The Merritt Centennials solved their log jam in the crease by sending goaltender Dylan Kosik (01) to the Fort Frances Lakers of the SIJHL in exchange for future considerations.
The move was some what expected after the acquisition of Tanner Marshall from the Brooks Bandits earlier in the week. Kosik only saw a period of action in the Centennials crease stopping all 5 shots he faced against the Penticton Vees. Last season he played for the Rockland Nationals where he put up a 2.53 GAA and .915 SV% in 23 games played.
The move comes ahead of the Cents Friday night matchup at the NVMA against the West Kelowna Warriors.
(photo credit - Jared Thomas)
Head Coach and GM Barry Wolff has swung another deal for the Merritt Centennials acquiring a goalie from the reigning Junior A Champions.
In exchange for future considerations, the Cents acquired Tanner Marshall. The tender was exceptional for the AJHL’s Brock Bandits last season finishing 12-0 with a 1.33 GAA and .925 SV%. The GAA was the best in the league.
Barry Wolff joined Q101 to discuss why the pulled he trigger to acquire Marshall.
“With that kind of pedigree and championship at that level, to bring that into our locker room, with his experience, you just can’t find that every day, and it’s going to be huge for our guys. We need to learn how to win and he can help us in that regard,” said Wolff.
The move does however muddy the waters in the blue paint for the Cents now with three goalies on the roster.
Ryan Winter has started all three games this season posting a 0-3 record with 4.88 GAA and .882 SV%.
Dylan Kosik has been Winter’s backup, only seeing one period of action so far. In his limited work Kosik stopped all five shots he faced versus Penticton.
Asked directly if there could be another deal coming down the pipe for the Cents, Barry, who tends to play his cards close to his chest, simply replied: “possibly, yes”.
As for the immediate future, Barry said he will continue to run with three goalies on the roster.
The move will increase anticipation for Friday’s lineup vs West Kelowna, as all eyes will be on who gets the starting nod in the crease.
Puck drop will be 7 PM on Friday and if you can’t make down to the barn tune into Q101 for all the action with Jared Thomas and Michael Reeve.
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt
The Merritt Centennials announced today that they have acquired goaltender Tanner Marshall (00) from the Brooks Bandits of the AJHL in exchange for future considerations.
With both goalies who served last season for the Centennials departing the organization, Austin Roden graduating to the University of Nebraska-Omaha and Vincent Duplessis traded to the Swan Valley Stampeders, goaltending has been a question mark heading into the season. Head Coach and General Manager Barry Wolff has aimed to address that by bringing in Marshall from the Bandits.
Marshall, a Kelowna native, posted a 12-0 record last season with the Brooks Bandits while putting up a 1.33 GAA and a .925 SV%. He also has spent time with the Trail Smoke Eaters in 2017 and 2018 putting up a 9-6 record with a 3.87 GAA and a .879 SV%. Marshall won the AJHL Championship with the Bandits as well as the National Junior A Championship. He also put up the AJHL's best goals against average during 2018-19.
Coach Wolff says that Marshall will bring in experience and a championship pedigree.
"Tanner has been in this league before and he's been a part of a winning program. His experience in the BCHL and his work ethic in net will be a much needed asset."
The Centennials are getting set for a Friday night game against the West Kelowna Warriors.
The Merritt Centennials will have to wait until next week to get their first win of the season after the Victoria Grizzlies and their goaltender stole a game at the NVMA 5-1.
The first period saw the Cents open the scoring on the powerplay for yet another game. Olson Werenka took a shot through the crowd to get his first of the season. The lead wouldn't last as Cody Monds managed to even things up with the Grizzlies on a powerplay of their own with Olson Werenka in the box to make it 1-1. Ryan Winter made some spectacular saves early to keep the Cents in the game after getting outshot 18-8 in the first period.
In the 2nd it was all Centennials as they pushed the pace and were getting chances all over the place, but after the Cents got a 4 minute man advantage a blocked shot led to a 2-on-0 breakaway that Chase McInnis finished off to beat a sprawled out Winter. The Cents then went on a full 2 minute two-man advantage, but couldn't make good to find the equalizer and then it was Joe Howe's time to shine. The VIctoria Grizzlies netminder turned away 20 shots from Merritt throughout the 2nd, and some of the best chances saw the Cents mishandle the puck in the final moments. Shots after 2 were 29-28 in favour of the Grizzlies.
The final frame saw the Cents once again jump out hot, but on a miscued pass it found the stick of a streaking Benjamin Biester who broke in alone and beat Winter up high blocker side to give the Grizzlies a two goal edge. The Cents continued to press, but a knuckling backhander from Andrew Amousse fooled everyone and beat Winter down low to make it 4-1. The Cents didn't give up as Head Coach Barry Wolff pulled the goalie late to try and find some momentum with a powerplay late, but a long dagger found the back of the net to ice the game 5-1. Final shots were 40-39 for the Grizzlies.
After the game Assistant Coach Derek Sweet Coulter said that the boys are a bounce away from breaking a game open.
"We are having some pretty bad puck luck out there, and we are getting the chances, but the boys are squeezing the sticks a little too tight. We are learning as a group and we are learning new systems, there's no one that wants it more than the boys in the locker room."
The Cents will try and turn their fortunes next Friday against the West Kelowna Warriors.
ENERGY PLAYER OF THE GAME - Olson Werenka 1G
3rd Star - Ryan Winter 35/39
2nd Star - Michael Hoekstra 1A
1st Star - Joe Howe 38/39