Since 2017 there had been a consistent face in the Merritt Centennials' crease. Brought to Merritt in a Halloween 2017 trade with Nanaimo, Austin Roden began a battle with Cents goalie Jake Berger for the role of number one netminder.
The two goalies would share the crease throughout the rest of the season, but when playoff time came around Head Coach Joe Martin tapped Berger to be his starter in what ended up a four-game sweep at the hands of Wenatchee.
Those would be Berger’s last games in a Cents jersey as he went on to Minnesota State University.
That cleared the path for Roden to take over entering the 2018-19 season as the heir apparent number one goalie.
Roden would backstop the Cents to a 27-11-0 record with a .912 save percentage. Roden was leaned on heavily by coach Martin due to backup Vincent Duplessis being sidelined with injuries.
Roden who was named BCHL player of the week in the final week of the regular season would see his Centennials’ career end similar to Berger’s before him, bowing out in the first round of the playoffs versus Trail.
Thanks to his stellar year, he was able to grab the attention of the University of Nebraska-Omaha where he’ll begin his collegiate career this year.
Roden’s departure left Duplessis as the only goalie left in town heading into this offseason. But now as a new season appears on the horizon, Duplessis finds himself on the way to Manitoba thanks to a massive three-player trade swung earlier this week to acquire Matt Osadick.
The trade made one thing abundantly clear, new Head Coach and GM Barry Wolff isn’t afraid of pulling the trigger on a big deal, even if it means creating a massive hole on the depth chart.
“It wasn’t an easy decision, it wasn’t really a move we wanted to make, but it’s hard to find goal scorers like Osadick,” said Coach Wolff. “You always have to give up quality to get quality. It’s hard losing Duplessis, but it’s a business move and something we had to do.”
Wolff went on to mention how he believes it’s easier to find a quality goalie than a top-line scoring talent like Osadick. However, finding not only one but two goalies has certainly now jumped to the top of Wolff’s to-do list as the season nears.
“We’ll figure it out and there’s lots of time before now and camp. We’re obviously looking to find a veteran goalie for that hole. We may have that done before camp,” said Wolff.
The countdown has officially begun with zero goalies on the roster and camp opening on August 19.
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt