Merritt Centennials
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The Merritt Centennials (0-1-0) get set to hit reset against the Prince George Spruce Kings (1-0-0) tonight.

Looking back to the exhibition opener on  October 10th against PG, the Cents were unable to get the offense going coming up with a 4-1 defeat. It took a while for the teams to find their footing in the first period as both teams were playing their first competitive games since early March and at times it showed. The Cents were also dealing with some young faces in the line up that were battling nerves along with the opponent and it was a pair of BCHL veterans who opened the scoring on the powerplay for PG. Former Cent Christian Buono found Rowan Miller for a one timer on the powerplay to make it 1-0. Prince George kept the pressure on when another former Cent Hunor Torzsok gained the left wing and centered for a streaking Max Borovinskiy and the young forward was able to pick his way towards the net before putting it past an outstretched Dias to make it 2-0.

The Cents were hoping to come out of the dressing room with a little more fire, but they ended up being under fire from Prince George. After an early scrum in front, Grayson Valente was called for a misconduct for a scrum after the whistle and on the ensuing draw off a set play Corey Cunningham was able to collect a loose puck, pull to the backhand and tuck it five-hole to make it 3-0 PG. The Cents seemed to spiral for a moment after that point, and Derek Sweet-Coulter called a time out to try and settle the team. The gambit seemed to pay dividends, but it didn’t help the bottom line. Nick Rheaume was able to convert another goal for the Spruce Kings before the Cents finally found an answer. On the attack in the offensive zone, Jerzy Orchard picked the puck out of the corner, skated off the wall to the right dot and ripped a low shot five-hole to finally beat the rookie Aaron Trotter. The 2nd period buzzer saved the Spruce Kings as the Cents were starting to turn it on.

In the final frame the teams traded penalties, skated 4-on-4, 5-on-3 and everything in between. Despite chances a plenty the goaltenders handled all comers the rest of the way to make it a 4-1 final. Josh Dias held the team in it with a handful of sensational saves. Final shots were 32-28 Prince George.

The Cents hope that after a couple hard weeks of practice they can test their might against the veteran laden Spruce Kings once more and come away with a win.

The special teams battle left something to be desired from both clubs. Prince George was able to capitalize on their first opportunity, but the Cents penalty kill shut the door from then on while the Cents took themselves off the powerplay on too many occasions and couldn’t find a rhythm.

Powerplay:                         Penalty Kill:

PG – 12.5% (10th)              PG – 100% (T-1st)

Cents – 0% (16th)              Cents – 87.5% (7th)

In the blue paint, Josh Dias got his first taste of BCHL action and held the young Cents in the game with some sensational saves. Dias stopped 28/32 shots for a .875 SV% and 4 goals allowed. He will get the call again tonight as Colton Phillips-Watts watches on.

Aaron Trotter played exceptionally after making the jump from the CSSHL to exhibition play. The Shawnigan Lake alum stopped 27/28 shots for a .964 SV% and only had one goal get past him. Former Cents affiliate Carter Woodside is waiting for his first shot at exhibition action.

Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter says he’s hoping the opportunity to learn and use video from the first contest will help his team out.

“We were able to get a little bit of everything from the last game – the good, the bad, and the ugly and that’s what you need to learn and grow. We’ve gone over the tape, gone over the systems and now we are ready for another test.”

The Cents will look to help themselves to their first win of the exhibition season.

Puck drop 7pm. Pre-game 6:45 on HockeyTV and Q101. Watch Party at Boston Pizza Merritt!

If you’d like to show your support from a distance the Cents have a couple new initiatives for fans. The Super Fan Cutout – where you send a photo of yourself, or we can use one of your favourite player – to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. along with a $50 e-transfer (per cutout) and we will put you in the stands to ‘cheer’ on the boys.

Supporters are also organizing a drive-by parade and are gathering at the Lawn Bowling Parking lot at 5:10 to cruise down Garcia and make some noise for the boys.

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The Merritt Centennials opened their exhibition schedule on Saturday night against the Spruce Kings and were unable to get the offense going, coming up with a 4-1 defeat.

It took a while for the teams to find their footing in the first period as both teams were playing their first competitive games since early March and at times it showed. The Cents were also dealing with some young faces in the line up that were battling nerves along with the opponent and it was a pair of BCHL veterans who opened the scoring on the powerplay for PG. Former Cent Christian Buono found Rowan Miller for a one timer on the powerplay to make it 1-0. Prince George kept the pressure on when another former Cent Hunor Torzsok gained the left wing and centered for a streaking Max Borovinskiy and the young forward was able to pick his way towards the net before putting it past an outstretched Dias to make it 2-0. Penalties would ensue but no more scoring would result as the teams skated to the tunnel at the same score. Shots after 1 were 14-9 Spruce Kings.

The Cents were hoping to come out of the dressing room with a little more fire, but they ended up being under fire from Prince George. After an early scrum in front, Grayson Valente was called for a misconduct for a scrum after the whistle and on the ensuing draw off a set play Corey Cunningham was able to collect a loose puck, pull to the backhand and tuck it five-hole to make it 3-0 PG. The Cents seemed to spiral for a moment after that point, and Derek Sweet-Coulter called a time out to try and settle the team. The gambit seemed to pay dividends, but it didn't help the bottom line. Nick Rheaume was able to convert another goal for the Spruce Kings before the Cents finally found an answer. On the attack in the offensive zone, Jerzy Orchard picked the puck out of the corner, skated off the wall to the right dot and ripped a low shot five-hole to finally beat the rookie Aaron Trotter. The 2nd period buzzer saved the Spruce Kings as the Cents were starting to turn it on. Shots after 2 were 25-20 PG.

In the final frame the teams traded penalties, skated 4-on-4, 5-on-3 and everything in between. Despite chances a plenty the goaltenders handled all comers the rest of the way to make it a 4-1 final. Josh Dias held the team in it with a handful of sensational saves. Final shots were 32-28 Prince George.

After the game, Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter said he'd like to see the team help each other a little more.

"We did okay through parts of the game, but we spent a while not doing the little things right. We needed to support each other more in the offensive zone and avoid those one and done chances."

The Cents will get nearly 2 weeks of practice in before their next test on October 23rd when the Cents and Spruce Kings do it all again.

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The Merritt Centennials get set to officially begin their exhibition campaign with a tilt against a foe they will get to become all too familiar with in the coming months - the Prince George Spruce Kings.

The Cents are coming off a battle for intrasquad supremacy that saw the team line up against each other in a series of three games. Game one saw Team White prevail with goals from Josh Olson, Carson Preston, and Lucas Lundy over Team Red who got a lone goal from Brandon Dent. Game 2 was the most offensive of the bunch with Team Red bouncing back with a 6-3 win over Team White. Wyatt Marlow and Dylan Sydor tallied lone goals while Hunter Brown and Brandon Dent added a pair for Team Red. Team White jumped out to the early first period lead with goals from Jerzy Orchard, Zack Dallazanna, and Jacob Dewitt before seeing their lead evaporate in the final two frames. The Barnes Cup finale played host to a little bit of everything as the teams traded a pair of goals in the first period. Cubby Myers and Orchard bulged the twine for Team White while Dylan Sydor and Brandon Dent answered for Team Red. Goals from Ben Ward and Joe Davidson had the teams heading to an overtime shootout for all the bragging rights and it was Team Red scoring the lone goal of the shootout of the stick of Davidson and off the stellar play of Josh Dias in net to capture the inaugural Barnes Cup.

The team that Merritt will ice tonight will be far removed from the team that represented the town in the 2019-20 season as there are only six players returning from last years roster. Lead by local Talon Zakall on defense, fellow Merritonian Chase Cooke on the back end, and bolstered by Ben Ward, Jake McLean, Jerzy Orchard, and Wyatt Marlow up front the young core will be looking to make strides after a hard off-season training regimen.

The Centennials have been able to fill some holes through the trade market by acquiring forwards Zack Dallazanna, Brandon Dent, and Walker Erickson through future consideration deals. Veteran defender Grayson Valente was acquired for forward Josh Van Unen. The Cents solidified their goaltending by acquiring Josh Dias from the AJHL for forward Chase Nameth. More recently the team continued to tinker with their blue line by bringing in Liam Visram from the Nanaimo Clippers and Trevor Isaksson from the Trail Smoke Eaters.

The bulk of the hockey staff's work this offseason has been scouting and recruiting and it shows by some of the promising prospects they've brought aboard over the long summer. Forwards Alex Ochitwa, Cubby Myers, Carson Preston and defender Alek Erichuk were among some of the first committed to in the spring. Lucas Lundy and Joe Davidson were announced before a flood of new recruits came through as a result of the Centennials Fall Evaluation Camp. Jacob Dewitt and Liam Davidson have been added on defense, while Dylan Sydor, Josh Olson, Blake Astorino, Nolan Wall, Jack Henderson, Jacksen Hungle, Hunter Brown, and Mark Thurston have been added up front.

Of course tonight we can only be treated to 20 of those names on the lineup card, but it will be a solid test for veterans and newcomers alike as the Prince George Spruce Kings look to reload after a first round playoff exit last season. Sporting a veteran laden lineup that is only at 23 total players overall, the Spruce Kings are focused on continuing to build off of the growing pains of last season. They do have some once famliar faces on their team as both Christian Buono and Hunor Torzsok were acquired by PG over the off-season. One time Cent for a day Carter Woodside is now the veteran number 1 goaltender, and Prince George features a long list of returners.

Special teams will be an area that both teams look to improve. Prince George was respectable, but not near the top of the class in the BCHL last season, while the Centennials have no where to go but up after finishing last in both categories last year.

Powerplay:                       Penalty Kill:

PG - 17.2% (11th)            PG - 78.3% (12th)

Cents - 12.9% (17th)       Cents - 72.3% (17th)

The goaltending battle will see Josh Dias get his first taste of BCHL action while Colton Phillips-Watts will serve as the back up. Dias went 8-30-3 in 42 appearances last season in the AJHL while sporting a goals against of 3.77 and a .900SV%. Dias served on the Lloydminster Bobcats who were among the bottom teams in the AJHL last year.

The one time Cent affiliate Carter Woodside should get the start for the Spruce Kings in the games first official action. He went 5-11-1 in a half season in PG last year with a .900 SV% and a 3.08 GAA.

Head Coach Derek Sweet Coulter says that he's looking forward to seeing how his team handles this first test.

"It's going to be a game filled with a lot of emotion for some of younger guys, but in the end it could come down to who's legs last the longest."

The Cents hope to get a passing mark on the first test of the season.

Puck drop 7pm. Pre-game 6:45 on HockeyTV and Q101 with Jared Thomas and Michael Reeve.

A reminder to sign up for your HockeyTV subscription using the promo code - BCHLCENTENNIALS20 - and receive $80 off your ALL ACCESS pass.

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The Merritt Centennials announced their leadership group for the upcoming 2020-21 season.
 
The Centennials coaches and staff felt it was important to name a leadership group early on in the exhibition season to set the tone both in and outside of the rink. There were plenty of candidates to choose from amongst the new and returning players, but the Hockey Operations Staff has settled on certain individuals who have stood out early on. With the expanded roster size to 25 this season, management has decided on a Captain with 2 home alternates and two away alternates to ensure no matter who the Cents put into the lineup the leadership group will always be well represented.
 
Captain - Zack Dallazanna
 
 
 
 
Director of Hockey Operations John Stuart Says that Dallazanna has been nothing but exceptional since being acquired via trade.
 
"Since arriving after an off-season trade with the Nanaimo Clippers, Zack has led the way both on and off the ice. He was in attendance at all the Centennials camps, and has been excited to join the Centennials squad since the day he was acquired. Dallazanna has come from a winning culture and knows what it takes for a team to be successful. He leads by example, a blue collar player that is respected by teammates and staff. An unselfish player that puts the team first, and is an example for the younger guys in the room.
Leadership group."
 
Dallazanna says that the announcement came as a bit of a surprise, but it's a role that he's happy to accept and continue to earn throughout the year.
 
"It's an absolute honor to become Captain of a team I just got traded to in the offseason. I wasn't really expecting anything big coming into the year, but its a great opportunity presented to me coming into camp and I'm just excited to be leading this team into the future." Dallazanna adds that he's learnt a lot through his years in the BCHL. "One of the things I'd like to bring to the team this year is that every day expect the most out of yourself, and most of the time good results are going to happen."
 
Home Alternate - Talon Zakall
 
 
 
 
Stuart says that since being thrust into a bigger role, the Cents local player has thrived.
 
"Talon is a local player that has more than earned a letter and his confidence has jumped immensely from last season. You can just feel the respect he has when he's in the room and in the community. We look forward to him taking another step forward this season."
 
Home Alternate - Ben Ward
 
 
 
 
Assistant GM Stuart says that Ward is a player that never stops pushing, and he hopes it rubs off on his teammates this year.
 
"Nobody works harder on and off the ice than Ben Ward. He has led by example on the ice, in the dressing room, in the weight room, and in the community. He is willing to go the extra mile for anybody."
 
Road Alternate - Jerzy Orchard
 
 
 
 
"Jerzy is a returning assistant captain from last years and deserves the opportunity to return again this year. Like the others, Jerzy has a ton of respect from his teammates and has been a great liason between players and coaches. He's a very smart player with a great attitude, and has the great quality of being level headed and demanding of his teammates."
 
Road Alternate - Liam Visram
 
 
 
 
"Visram came to the Cents via trade in early September from the Nanaimo Clippers. Liam has led by example both on and off the ice since he has arrived. A true leader who has been a part of successful teams and played under great leadership. He knows how to lead and does it the right way."
 
Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter adds that the leadership group has been chosen for their ability to put team success first.
 
"Each player that has been chosen to lead this organization forward all have one thing in common and that is that they all understand when the organization succeeds, they succeed as individuals as well. The logo and the Merritt community always comes first. We are here to be servant leaders in our community, build great relationships, and make a positive impact in the lives of others. I look forward to working with this leadership group on a daily basis as we begin our journey together.
 
The journey begins tomorrow night when the Cents take on the Prince George Spruce Kings for their first test on the exhibition schedule against BCHL competition. Puck drop 7pm, Pre-Game 6:45 on HockeyTV and Q101.
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The red light was getting some extra work at the NVMA on Tuesday morning as game 2 of the Barnes Cup got underway with an offensively fueled 6-3 rebound by Team Red over Team White.

After being a non-factor in game 1, special teams became a focal point of game 2, and it was on special teams that the first goal of the game was scored. Wyatt Marlow was at the right place at the right time after a Grayson Valente shot rebounded off his body and slid over the line past Colton Phillips-Watts into the net to open the scoring. It didn't take long for Team White to respond after a shot on net let to a goal-mouth scrum and Jerzy Orchard was the first one to find the puck to bat it past Josh Dias to tie the game 1-1. Then it was Team White's turn to go to the man advantage and after some solid puck movement it was a similar goal mouth scramble that led to Zack Dallazanna being able to find the puck in the blue paint and shovel the puck through the legs to make it 2-1 White. Mere moments later the ice continued to tilt as Jacob Dewitt cheated down from the point to finish off another battle in front to make it 3-1. Phillips-Watts was a difference maker in the first period after two clean breakaway tries for Team Red from Dent and Erickson - but both were denied thanks to some spectacular saves. The four goals combined in the first period were scored from about 4 feet in front of the net as the Cents showed off their grittiness is game 2. Shots after 1 were 14-12 Team Red.

Team Red looked to be down in a hole after period one, but on the heels of a bit of a lucky goal they were able to climb back into the game. Streaking down the left wing, Hunter Brown through a shot on from near the goal line and was able to sneak it past Phillips-Watts to make it 3-2. Later in the period with another chance on the powerplay, Team Red went to work. Working the puck around the horn, a cross-ice feed found Dent at the right dot and he unleashed an absolute laser top corner to tie the game at 3's. Shots after 2 were 23-20 Team White.

In the final frame, Team Red continued to put the pedal down with relentless pressure and play in the offensive zone. Despite the multitude of chances it wasn't until Dylan Sydor was ripped down the left wing, and ripped a shot bar-down, short-side to put Team Red ahead 4-3. Hunter Brown scored his second of the game off a rebound from the point to make it 5-3. With a powerplay late in the game, Team White pulled the goalie to put the pressure on but coughed up the puck at the offensive blue line and Brandon Dent scored the empty netter to make it a 6-3 final. Final shots were 39-31 Team Red.

After the game, Head Coach Derek Sweet-Coulter said the chemistry is starting to build.

"Some of the lines we've put together are really starting to get a read on each other now. They're looking solid and implementing some of the things we've taught in practice which you love to see. It's all shaping up for a big game Thursday morning. Even though there's only pride on the line - these kids all want to win."

A deciding game 3 of the Barnes Cup will get going bright and early on Thursday morning at 9:30am - free to view on HockeyTV.

Come Saturday's preseason opener against the Prince George Spruce Kings fans will have to purchase an All Access pass - use discount code BCHLCENTENNIALS20 for $80 off.

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