Merritt Centennials

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Merritt Centennials
Merritt Centennials logo.svg
City Merritt, British Columbia
League British Columbia Hockey League
Conference Interior
Founded 1961
Home arena Nicola Valley Memorial Arena
Colours

Red, Black, White

              
General manager Canada Luke Pierce
Head coach Canada Luke Pierce

Website
merrittcentennials.com
Franchise history
1961–64 Kamloops Rockets
1964–67 Kamloops Kraft Kings
1967–1973 Kamloops Rockets
1973 White Rock Centennials
1973–85 Merritt Centennials
1985–87 Merritt Warriors
1987–present Merritt Centennials
2007 regular season game against the Quesnel Millionaires

The Merritt Centennials are a junior "A" ice hockey team based in Merritt, British Columbia. They are members of the Interior Division of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL). The franchise was established in Kamloops in 1961 and moved to White Rock in 1973 when the WCHL's Vancouver Nats moved to Kamloops and became the Chiefs. The Centennials settled in Merritt midway through the 1973–74 season. They play their home games at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.

The Centennials have once finished with the best record in the BCHL, and have qualified for the playoffs in twelve of the last thirteen seasons. They won the Mowat Cup and BC/Alberta Junior "A" Championship in 1978.[1]

The Cents, as the team is known, are the longest continuously run franchise in the BCHL. Eleven former Centennials players have gone on to play in the National Hockey League.

Franchise history[edit]

Merritt[edit]

1973–77[edit]

1973–74 BCJHL Rookie of the Year Fred Berry

The Centennials started the 1973–74 season in White Rock and finished it in Merritt, however, the franchise turmoil seemed to have an impact on the players as they finished the season last in the Interior Division with a record of 20–42–2. The season wasn't a complete wash as Fred Berry would be the first Cents player to lead the BCJHL in scoring with 136 points. That total still stands as a team record for points in a season.[2] Berry and Darrel Zelinski finished 1–2 overall in BCJHL scoring. The Centennials first playoff in their new city ended in the first round in six games to the eventual BCJHL champion Kelowna Buckaroos.[3] At the post season awards, Berry took home rookie of the year while Zelinski was named most sportsmanlike player.[4]

The following season, things got a bit better for the Cents in the standings. Although they finished last in the Interior Division yet again, they managed to avoid the league basement. Merritt went 26–38–2, ending up well ahead of the last place Nanaimo Clippers. Zelinski continued his torrid scoring pace, finishing fifth in league scoring with 50 goals, 61 assists, and 111 points in 66 games. In the playoffs, Merritt once again locked horns with the Kelowna squad in the first round and again the Buckaroos proved to be too much, beating the Centennials in seven games.[3]

By the time the 1975–76 season rolled around, the BCJHL had done away with the Interior and Coastal Divisions and now the league simply comprised eight teams. The Centennials were much improved, finishing two games above .500 for the first time in five years, and fourth in the realigned BCJHL.[3] Zelinski again finished near the top of the scoring race with 50 goals, 69 assists, and 119 points in 66 games. Merritt locked horns with a team from the former Coastal Division for the first time in the playoffs, and beat the Langley Lords in six games in the opening round. In the second round, the Nanaimo Clippers, who had finished second overall in the regular season, bounced the Cents from the post season in seven games,[5] but fans in Merritt had gotten their first taste of playoff success.

The 1975–76 season will also go down in Cents history as forward Greg Agar became the franchise's first player ever chosen in the NHL Entry Draft, going in the 10th round, 162nd overall to the California Golden Seals. Agar also is the first player chosen directly from a BCJHL team to the NHL.[6]

The Centennials took a bit of a tumble in the 1976–77 season with the graduation of players like Darrel Zelinski, ending up tied for last place in the league with the Kamloops Braves. Merritt stayed out of the basement due to the fact that they had more goals-for scored during the season than Kamloops, as both teams had identical records of 23–45–0.[5] The addition of players like Ed Beers and Gary Sirkia along with coach Joe Tennant, however, planted the seeds for future success.

1977–79[edit]

The 1977–78 season represents the most significant in Centennials history as the team would experience achievements yet to be matched. Buoyed by the addition of players like Ken Stroud, Rob Polman-Tuin, and Kelly Ferner, and the development of returnees like Beers and Sirkia, the Cents rocketed to the top of the BCJHL standings, finishing the season with a record of 50–15–1 for a franchise record 101 points.[5] That total stands as the fourth most ever points accumulated by one team in a season in BCHL history.[7] The Cents racked up an astonishing 489 goals that season, led by six different players with 90 points or more. Stroud, Ferner, Beers, and Sirkia would all wind up in the BCJHL's top 15 in scoring, each with more than 111 points while Pat Rabbitt and Blake Stephen chipped in with 93 points each.[5] Merritt also had four 50-plus goal scorers in Stroud, Ferner, Beers, and Rabbitt. Stroud's 86 assists that season still stands as a team record.[2]

Once the BCJHL playoffs rolled around, the Centennials were nowhere to be found. Opting to return to the Centennial Cup Junior "A" playoffs, the league decided that Merritt would represent them.[8] While the rest of the BCJHL teams were partaking in the regular post-season, the Centennials first faced the PCJHL's Richmond Sockeyes for the Mowat Cup provincial championship. Merritt swept the best of five series 3–0 [9] and advanced to the BC/Alberta Junior "A" Championship against the Alberta Junior Hockey League's Calgary Canucks. The Centennials were too much for the Canucks to handle, and swept them aside in six games.[5] Unfortunately for the Cents and their fans, the Cinderella run came to an end in the Abbott Cup Championship against the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League's Prince Albert Raiders. The Raiders beat the Centennials 4 games to 1,[5] but the stunning playoff run and successful regular season firmly planted the team in the hearts of hockey fans throughout the Nicola Valley. The team's accomplishments didn't go unnoticed at the BCJHL's post-season awards either, as Tennant won coach of the year [10] and Polman-Tuin took home the goaltender of the year and best goaltending duo awards.[11]

The 1978–79 season represented another near the top of the BCJHL for the Centennials. They finished second overall in the league, with 98 points in 62 games.[12] Polman-Tuin lead all BCJHL goaltenders in goals against average for the second straight year at 2.54 [12] and took home his second straight goaltender and goaltending duo of the year awards.[11] The Cents easily handled Kelowna in the Interior Division semifinals 4-games-to-2 before being upset by Kamloops in the Interior Division Finals 4-games-to-2.[12] The series was considered an upset because Kamloops had finished the regular season 24 points behind the first place Merritt squad.[12]

1979–85[edit]

The 1979–80 season for the Centennials saw the team tumble to the bottom of the BCJHL's Interior Division with a record of 20–38–2, good enough for second last overall in the league. The season also represented the first time since moving to Merritt that the team failed to make the playoffs.[12]

Things improved a little for the 1980–81 season as the Centennials gained seven more wins than the season before and finished fourth in the five team Interior Division. The team also returned to the post season, stretching the regular season champion Kelowna Buckaroos to seven games in the Interior Division semifinals before bowing out. Dan London paced the team offensively, finishing third in league scoring with 99 points in 54 games.[13]

The 1981–82 season represented a step back for the franchise as the Cents ended up second to last in the Interior Division with an abysmal record of 11–35–2. Remarkably, the Vernon Lakers had a worse record, finishing three points behind the Centennials. Merritt was overmatched by BCJHL leading scorer Ray Ferraro and his Penticton Knights in the Interior Division semifinals, going out in four straight games.[14]

The 1982–83 season saw things get worse for the Centennials as they lost one more game and finished with four fewer points, ending up last in the entire BCJHL.[14] The team also set a BCJHL record for fewest goals scored in a 56 game season with 166. The record still stands as the fourth fewest goals scored in any season in BCJHL history.[7] It also marked the first time since the team relocated to Merritt that it missed the playoffs.

Just when things couldn't seem to get any worse coming off a last place overall finish, they did for the 1983–84 season, as the Cents finished with an abysmal record of 8–51–1.[15] The team also set a dubious BCJHL record for the most goals allowed in a season with 543, an average of 9.05 against per game.[7] This despite the fact that forward Brent Demerais set a single season team record that still stands today with 66 goals.[2] His total represents 26.7% of the total goals the team scored that season. In fact, Demerais' point total of 124 was good enough for third overall in the BCJHL, but it was the lone bright spot in a season with very few.

1984–85 was a season of much improvement as the Centennials ended the season third in the BCJHL Interior Division with a record of 24–27–1. The team was led by the trio of Pat Ryan, Kevin Cheveldave, and Mark Bogoslowski, each of whom placed among the top 15 BCJHL scorers that season. Ryan finished fourth overall with 116 points, Cheveldave eleventh with 103 points, and Bogoslowski fourteenth with 98 points. The Cents also returned to the post-season where they beat Vernon in a thrilling seven game series in the Interior Division semifinal before being swept in the Interior Division final by a first place Penticton squad that lost just five games all season.[15]

1985–87[edit]

Former player Bill Birks shown as a member of the Merritt Warriors

1985–86 signified a big change for fans in Merritt as team owners tried to appeal more to the First Nations population in the Nicola Valley and also identify more with the Merritt Minor Hockey Association. As a result, the team colours became white, black, and yellow and the team name was changed from the Centennials to the Warriors. The team improved on their record from the previous season, going 27–23–2.[15] The playoff result wasn't much different for the Warriors as the Merritt squad locked horns with Penticton once again in the Interior Division semifinal, only to be swept by the Knights in four games.[16]

The 1986–87 season represented a step back for the Warriors as the team won just 10 games, but remarkably it was good enough to put them in the playoffs as the Summerland Buckaroos finished with nine points fewer in last place in both the BCJHL and the Interior Division. This time it would be Kelowna Packers who sent the Warriors packing in the Interior semifinals and Merritt was swept in the first playoff round for the second straight season.[16]

1987–90[edit]

A roller coaster decade continued for the franchise as the 1987–88 season began with the team changing its name back to the Centennials. The hockey club also returned to their red, black, and white colour scheme. On the ice, the team's record improved by 15 wins and they finished with a record of 25–27–0. The point total of 50 was good enough for fourth in the Interior Division, just eight points behind the second place Kelowna Packers. Frank Biller, Al Rushton, and Cal McGowan led the team offensively. Biller posted 57 goals and 49 assists for 106 points, sixth overall in the BCJHL. Rushton chipped in with 87 points and McGowan ended up with 79 points, both good enough to be amongst the top eight scorers in the Interior Division. In the post season, the Cents suffered their third straight series sweep in the first round, this time it was against the first place Vernon Lakers.[17]

The 1988–89 season represented one of much improvement for the Centennials, as they finished second in the Interior Division. The team chalked up nine more wins than the previous season while Al Rushton continued his torrid scoring pace, notching 48 goals and 53 assists for 101 points. His totals were good enough for fourth overall in the Interior.[18] Goaltender Barry Rysz also played a huge role in Merritt's turnaround as he finished second overall in goals-against-average at 4.39 and was awarded the Best Goaltender of the Year award.[11] Head coach Ed Beers was recognized by the BCJHL with the Coach of the Year award.[10] In the playoffs, the Cents matched up with Salmon Arm in the Interior Semifinals and took the series in five games. For the second season in a row, Merritt met Vernon in the Interior Conference Finals and for the second straight year, the result was the same—a 4–0 series sweep at the hands of the Lakers.[18]

In the 1989–90 season, the Cents stumbled to third place in the Interior Division, but finished just three points behind the second-place Kelowna Spartans. Despite the third-place finish, the Centennials had two players among the top eight Interior Division scorers. Al Rushton with 81 points, ended up tied for third with Vernon's Duane Dennis, while Paul Gentes tied with Vernon's Rob Atkinson for fourth with 65 points. In the playoffs, Merritt finished second in the BCJHL's preliminary round robin series with a record of 3–3. Vernon ended up winning the Interior Group and advancing to the BCJHL championship final with a record of 5–2.[19]

1990–2000[edit]

The 1990–91 season for the Merritt Centennials was significant in that it was the first time in three years that the team didn't feature a player among the top eight scorers in the Interior Conference, but it also represented a twelve point improvement over the previous season. The Cents claimed the final Interior Division playoff spot with a fourth place finish. The post-season berth wasn't really in doubt as Merritt ended up 33 points ahead of last place Penticton. In the Interior Division semifinals, the Centennials locked horns with the returning Chilliwack Chiefs, who had finished first in the division during the regular season. The Chiefs proved to be too much for Merritt, as they beat the Cents in six games. It was a close series, with Chilliwack posting 25 goals for and Merritt countering with 24 goals for.[20] At the 1991 NHL Entry Draft, the Chicago Blackhawks made Cents defenceman Maco Balkovec the highest player ever drafted directly from the BCJHL team when they chose him in the fifth round, 110th overall.[6]

The 1991–92 season turned out to be one to forget for the Centennials and their fans as the team stumbled to a record of 19–36–5 and fell to last place in the Interior Division and the BCJHL with 43 points. It was the first time in seven years that Merritt missed the BCJHL playoffs.[20] One bright spot for the Cents was the play of rookie Mike Josephson, who was rewarded with the Interior Division rookie of the year award.[11]


1992–93 represented a marked improvement for the Cents as the team garnered 14 more wins than the previous season and wound up with 25 more points. Merritt was powered by the offence of David Green, who finished fourth in the Interior Division with 105 points, and the goaltending of David Kilduff, who was third in the BCJHL with a 4.03 goals-against-average. A return to the playoffs, however, produced a similar result as in the past as the Centennials faced off against first place Kelowna in the Interior Division semifinals and lost the series in five games.[14] Brian Barrett, who took over as coach of the team midway through the season, was named BCJHL coach of the year for the Interior Conference.[10]

The Centennials struggled in the 1993–94 season, one that was truncated by the trade of two of the team's most dynamic offensive players, Bill Muckalt and Joe Rybar, to the Kelowna Spartans midway through the season.This was a year Merritt would off-load several key players in an effort to rebuild the team. Goaltenders Joe Kennedy and up and coming athletic goaltender Jason Taylor were moved as well along with Rob Szatsmary forward and Ryan Beamin a solid defensemen. Merritt had a tough time, especially after the trades, and finished the regular season at the bottom of both the Interior Division and the BCJHL with a record of 16–39–5 for just 37 points. The Centennials missed the playoffs while Kelowna Spartans would go all the way to the Centennial Cup championship, only to lose to the Olds Grizzlys.[21] At the 1994 NHL Entry Draft, Muckalt was chosen in the ninth round, 221st overall by the Vancouver Canucks.[6] Former Centennial Mike Josephson, who had moved on to the WHL's Kamloops Blazers, was chosen 196th overall by Chicago.[22]

The 1994–95 season was one of marginal improvement by the Cents, as the team wound up with a record of 18–40–2, two wins more than the previous year. Merritt missed the BCJHL playoffs for the second straight season and also finished in the Interior Division basement for the second year in a row.[23]

Things began to look up for the Centennials in the 1995–96 season as the team jumped to 26 wins and third place in the Interior Division. Buoyed by the offence of John Coyle and Bryan Phillips, who finished sixth and eighth respectively in BCJHL scoring, the Centennials returned to the playoffs with a first round miniseries against the South Surrey Eagles. Merritt eliminated the Eagles 2–0 in the best of three series and advanced to the league quarterfinals, where it would face the Chilliwack Chiefs. The Chiefs proved to be too much for the Cents, as they beat Merritt in five games.[24]

The Centennials "Maple Leaf" logo used from 1996 to 2007

Merritt saw its point total drop during the 1996–97 season as the Centennials finished with a 22–34–4 record, good enough for fifth in the Interior Division. The Cents had no players finish in the top ten in BCHL scoring, but still qualified for the playoffs and met Prince George, which finished ten points ahead of them in the regular season. Merritt eliminated the Spruce Kings in their first round best of three mini series 2–1 and advanced to the league quarterfinals. The Centennials met Vernon in round two and were promptly swept by the Vipers in four games.[24] In June 1997, Mike Brown became the first former Centennial to be drafted in the first round of the NHL entry draft when Florida chose him 20th overall from the WHL's Red Deer Rebels.[22] At the league's post-season awards, Cents goaltender Jason Tapp was chosen as the Interior Division's most valuable player.[10]

The Centennials improved marginally for the 1997–98 season, finishing with a record of 24–32–4, a four point improvement over the previous season. The Cents got a boost offensively when forward Shane Glover was acquired during the season from the Nanaimo Clippers. Glover would finish fifth in BCHL scoring with 94 points in 57 games. For the second season in a row, Merritt faced off against Prince George in a first round best of three mini series, but this season the result was different as the Spruce Kings knocked off the Centennials 2–1.[25] After the season, Glover was recognized as the Interior Division's most valuable player and most sportsmanlike player. It was first time in franchise history that a Centennials player had claimed the Interior MVP award in two straight seasons.[10]

In the 1998–99 season, the Cents ended up with exactly the same amount of points as the season prior, and in the same position as the season prior, fourth in the BCHL's Interior Division. The 1999 playoffs brought another post-season first round meeting with the Vernon Vipers for Merritt and a similar result as in past years. The Vipers took the Centennials out in five games en route to a Royal Bank Cup Championship.[26]

Merritt rounded out the 1990s with its best season in eleven years. The Centennials placed fourth in the Interior Division for the third straight year, and their 33–22–5 record for 71 points left them just four points behind second place Vernon. The Cents success was due in large part to the goaltending of Jamie Holden, who finished fifth in the league with a 3.45 goals against average. In the playoffs, Merritt upset first place Penticton in six games in the first round and met up with the Vipers in the Interior Conference finals. Despite a very good effort, the Centennials ultimately fell to Vernon in game seven.[27] The Cents were also represented at the BCHL's post-season awards, with forward Neil Stevenson-Moore sharing the Interior Conference's most sportsmanlike award with Prince George's Mike Lalonde.[10]

2000–2009[edit]

The 2000–01 season featured a drop of two points for the Centennials, but an improvement in the standings to second in the Interior Division. The Cents wound up with a record of 30–21–9 and 69 points.[27] However, it wouldn't be the regular season that fans in Merritt would remember the most about the year, rather an improbable run to the Fred Page Cup Final. The Cents faced off against Prince George in the Interior Division opening round and promptly swept the Spruce Kings in four straight. They then met up in the Interior Conference final with the Penticton Panthers, who had finished the season first in the division, 29 points ahead of the Centennials. The first place Panthers proved to be no match for Merritt, as the Cents outscored Penticton 16 to 7 in a four game sweep. Next up, it was the franchise's first appearance in the Fred Page Cup final, and it would be against the Victoria Salsa. Despite a thrilling seven game series, the Salsa took the BCHL championship on home ice.[28] Forward Mike Ouelette provided a bright spot individually as he won BCHL Rookie of the Year for the Interior Conference.[11]

Fans in Merritt were hoping that the Centennials could build off their playoff run of 2000–01 in the following season, but it wasn't meant to be as the team stumbled to a regular season record of 25–32–3 and 53 points, seventh in the eight team Interior Conference. There were several bright spots, one would be the play of goaltender Stefano Antinori, who statistically finished eighth amongst all BCHL netminders with a 3.36 goals against average. Others included the emergence of Mike Hamilton (Maine Blackbears), Kevin Borba, Shane McCormick, and Cory Graboski.[28] The Centennials also made a coaching change midway through the season that saw Al Glendinning join the team behind the bench taking over from Red Deer native Kevin McKay. Glendinning got the Cents to the playoffs, but they were swept 4–0 in the first round at the hands of the first place Vernon Vipers. Whom they had a winning record against all year. This also saw the graduation of players such as Kris Heeres, Mike Ouellette, Aaron Winterholt, and Brodie Rutherglen.[28]

2002–03 represented a nine point improvement for the Centennials, as the team went 28–26–4–2 for 62 points. Offensively the Cents were buoyed by the presence of three players in the top fifteen BCHL scorers. Mike Hamilton was sixth overall with 93 points in 56 games, Jordan Emmerson finished eleventh with 85 points in 59 games, and Clayton Lainsbury wound up fifteenth in league scoring with 83 points in 61 games. Despite having Hamilton, Emmerson, and Lainsbury in the lineup, the Centennials proved to be not much of a threat in the post-season as the Trail Smoke Eaters beat Merritt in five games in the first round.[29] At the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Mike Hamilton became just the third player in franchise history to be drafted directly to the NHL when the Atlanta Thrashers chose him in the 6th round, 175th overall.[30]

Point-wise the 2003–04 season was identical to the previous season for the Centennials, but the main difference was that the 03-04 Cents didn't feature any player among the top fifteen BCHL scorers. Merritt finished with a record of 29–27–0–4, good enough for 62 points and fourth place in the Interior Conference. The season was highlighted by a trade in January that saw leading scorer Shane McCormick dealt to Penticton for Luke Vanderkerkhove. That same day, Vanderkerkhove was packaged with Jordan Dickson to the Coquitlam Express in exchange for Bryan Leitch.[31] In the playoffs, the Cents ran into a Cinderella Williams Lake TimberWolves club that was on its way to the Interior Conference finals. The T-Wolves dispatched the Centennials in the first round in five games.[32]

The Centennials took another step back during the 2004–05 season, finishing with five fewer points and a record of 27–30–0–3, sixth in the Interior Conference. For Al Glendinning, it represented the first time he'd finished with a record under .500 since being hired as coach. Bryan Leitch was a major bright spot, scoring 87 points in 51 games, fifth among BCHL leading scorers. This season also marked the rookie debut of forward Casey Pierro-Zabotel.[33] At the trade deadline, Glendinning shook up his team, dealing forwards Bill Vandermeer and Blair Riley to the Nanaimo Clippers for forwards Daryle Hurd, Kevin Lessard, defenceman Rylan Burns, and future considerations.[34] For the fourth straight season, the Centennials were dispatched in the opening round of the playoffs, losing to the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in five games.[35]

Despite a setback the previous season, things began to look up for the Centennials when they acquired forward Brandon Wong for future considerations early in the off-season from the Powell River Kings. The Cents had a very good 2005–06 regular season, improving on their point total by eighteen and moving up to fourth in the Interior Conference. Their record of 33–18–1–8 included a stretch that saw them lose one regulation game in their final twenty games and their 75 points represented Merritt's best season in 27 years. Wong lead the BCHL in scoring, the first Centennials player to do so since Fred Berry did in the 1973–74 season. In addition to Wong's 116 points, Brandon Campos finished tenth in league scoring with 80 points in 46 games and defenceman Alan Mazur, who was acquired in October 2005 from Burnaby for defenceman Dave Simoes,[36] set a franchise record for most points by a defenceman with 70. Mazur's 70 points also placed him 20th among all BCHL scorers.[37] Sensing an opportunity for a long playoff run, Glendinning made a huge trade at the January deadline, sending goaltender Cory Grant, forwards Chris Shudo and Greg Tyshynksi, and future considerations to the Spruce Kings in exchange for goaltender Brad Thiessen, forward Matt Shuya, and defenceman Brody Mott.[36] In the first round of playoffs, the Centennials were too much for the Trail Smoke Eaters, dispatching them in five games. The Cents locked horns with Penticton in the second round, but the first place Vees quickly swept Merritt aside in four games.[38] The Centennials strong season wasn't overlooked at the annual BCHL awards as Wong took home Interior Conference most valuable player and BCHL top scorer, Campos won Interior Conference most sportsmanlike player, and Glendinning Interior Conference coach of the year.[39]

The Centennials had another up and down year in 2006–07, finishing with a record of 25–27–1–7 and 58 points, sixth in the Interior Conference. Merritt was led by the one-two punch of Casey Pierro-Zabotel and Wade MacLeod, who finished third and fourth respectively in BCHL scoring. Zabotel posted 116 points in 55 games while MacLeod chipped in 105 points in 60 games.[40] Zabotel also represented the Centennials on the gold medal winning team at the inaugural World Junior A Challenge.[41] The post-season saw the Cents fight hard only to lose in the seventh game of the opening round against the Trail Smoke Eaters. After the season, Zabotel won Interior Conference most valuable player, marking the first time ever that a Centennials player had claimed that award in back to back seasons.[42] At the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Zabotel became just the fourth player in franchise history to be drafted directly to the NHL when the Pittsburgh Penguins chose him in the 3[clarification needed]th round, 80th overall.[43] He is the highest player ever drafted directly from the Centennials to the NHL.

The 2007–08 season was a struggle for the Cents as they saw their record fall to 13–38–1–8. Their 35 points represented a 33 point decrease and the team finished last in the BCHL.[44] Statistically, the Centennials had just one player finish with a point-per-game average, as Chad Gehon posted 48 points in 45 games after being acquired early in the season from the Cowichan Valley Capitals.[45] The season marked the first time in 12 years, and first time in seven years under coach Al Glendinning that Merritt missed the playoffs. The following season, the Centennials would miss the playoffs once more, and the franchise took that summer to go through several changes, and ultimately begin a stride toward success, something that was all but imminent with new and hard-working people joining the organization.

2009-Present 'The New Age Centennials'[edit]

After missing the season in back to back years, the Centennials were in need of a turnaround on the ice, which in turn resulted in off-ice issues. Putting rumours of relocation behind them, the Centennials powered in to its' 37th season with their sites on the playoffs. Joey Bouchard was slated to become bench boss for the 2009/10 season, but would relinquish his duties prior to the start of the season, before Dylan and Tyler Forsyth took over as GM/Coaches. Former Centennial and Merritt born-and-raised Luke Pierce joined the team as an assistant coach that season, but took over the reigns as Head Coach following the Forsyths' being let go from their duties early in the season.

Pierce went on to help the team to the playoffs that season, with nearly 200 more fans in the seats per game on average in comparison to the two years prior. With a record of 22-26-2-0, Pierce and the Centennials knew the rebuild would take some time but it was something the organization knew patience would pay off for. The 2010/11 season would bring similar fortunes to Merritt, with a record of 22-31-6-1, but the upswing was clearly underway with a flock of young players on that seasons roster.


34-18-6-2,

Team colours and mascot[edit]

[edit]

The old "Maple Leaf" style jerseys used from 1996 to 2007

The Cents logo is a red square with a black hockey stick and puck forming the letter "C". The logo lays on a field of white in the middle of the chest on both uniforms.

In 1973–74, the original logo featured a white square with a black hockey stick and puck in it forming the letter "C". The logo laid on a field of red in the middle of the chest. This was prior to having home and away uniforms. In the late 1970s, the logo changed to a red square with a black hockey stick and puck forming the letter "C" with the words "Merritt" above the logo and "Centennials" below the logo. On the home jerseys, the logo laid on a field of white, while on the away jerseys, the logo laid on a field of red.

When the team briefly changed its name to the Warriors for the 1985–87 seasons, the logo changed to a yellow oval with the word "Warriors" written in black cursive font. Following the 1986–87 season, the team name reverted to the Centennials and the team went back to using the square logo.

Prior to the 1995–96 season, the logo changed to a red maple leaf with the word "Merritt" in small print on the right side of the leaf's stem and the word "Centennials" in larger print directly underneath the maple leaf, overlapping the bottom three lines in the maple leaf's "swoosh".

As part of the Cents 35th anniversary in Merritt, the team's board of directors opted to return to the original square logo, beginning with the 2007–08 season.

Uniforms[edit]

The current team colours are red, black and white, and they can be seen on both the home and road uniforms. The home jersey is dominantly white in colour. There are two black stripes and one red stripe across each arm and across the waist. The road uniform is red in colour with a similar design, except that there are two black stripes and two white stripes across the waist and across each arm.

Season-by-season results[edit]

This is a partial list of the last five seasons completed by the Centennials. For the full season-by-season history, see Merritt Centennials seasons

Note: GP = Games Played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OTL = Overtime Losses, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against

Season GP W L T OTL GF GA Points Finish Playoffs
2005–06 60 33 18 1 8 236 205 75 4th BCHL Interior Lost in Quarter-finals
2006–07 60 25 27 1 7 212 259 58 6th BCHL Interior Lost in Preliminary
2007–08 60 13 38 1 8 156 305 35 8th BCHL Interior DNQ
2008–09 60 13 44 0 3 148 288 29 8th BCHL Interior DNQ
2009–10 60 22 36 0 2 215 319 46 7th BCHL Interior Lost in Preliminary
2010–11 60 22 31 1 6 157 216 51 6th BCHL Interior Lost in Preliminary
2011–12 60 34 18 2 6 194 171 76 6th BCHL - 2nd Interior Lost in Division Finals
2012–13 56 31 17 3 5 183 148 70 5th BCHL - 3rd Interior Lost in Division Semi-Finals
2013–14 58 31 22 4 1 184 165 67 8th BCHL - 4th Interior Lost in Division Semi-Finals
All-Time Totals 2,371 993 1,242 64 72 9,850 11,221 2,122

Players[edit]

Current roster[edit]

NHL alumni[edit]

Four Centennials players have been selected directly from the BCHL to the NHL. The most recent is Casey Pierro-Zabotel, who went in the third round, 80th overall in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Other Centennials that have been drafted directly to the NHL include Mike Hamilton, Maco Balkovec, and Greg Agar. In fact, Agar was the first player ever chosen directly to the NHL from the then-BCJHL.

Eleven former Centennials players have gone on to play in the National Hockey League.[46] The first was Fred Berry, who played three games with the Detroit Red Wings in 1976–77.[47]

Head coaches[edit]

  • Gord MacBeth, 1973–74
  • Fred Switzer, 1974–75
  • Don Prowal/Gary Swanson, 1975–76
  • Gary Swanson, 1976–77
  • Joe Tennant, 1977–79
  • Brian Barrett, 1979–82
  • Len McNamara, 1982–83
  • Enio Saccialotto/Roddy Rodgers/Chuck Tapp, 1983–84
  • Chuck Tapp, 1984–86
  • Brian Barrett, 1986–87
  • Ed Beers, 1987–89
  • John "Butch" Tent, 1989–91
  • Tim Clayden/Shawn Dineen, 1991–92
  • Scott Farrell/Brian Barrett, 1992–93
  • Wes Phillips/Ryan Stewart, 1993–94
  • Dave Shyiak, 1994–95
  • Bryant Perrier, 1995–97
  • Ed Beers/Brian Barrett, 1997–98
  • Mike Vandekamp, 1998-01
  • Kevin MacKay/Al Glendinning, 2001–02
  • Al Glendinning, 2002–09
  • Joey Bouchard, 2009-09
  • Dylan Forsythe, 2009-09
  • Luke Pierce, 2009–present

This list does not include the former coaches of the Kamloops Rockets.

Franchise records[edit]

Career scoring leaders[edit]

These are the top-ten point-scorers in franchise history. Figures are updated after each completed BCHL regular season.

Note: Pos = Position; GP = Games Played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; P/G = Points per game * = still active with the team

Updated at completion of 2007–08 season

Player Pos GP G A Pts P/G
Darrel Zelinski F 196 160 187 347 1.8
Al Rushton F 165 127 142 269 1.6
Casey Pierro-Zabotel C 190 92 118 210 1.1
Bill Muckalt RW 157 103 105 208 1.3
Guy Prince F 160 67 111 178 1.1
Brent Demerais F 103 83 74 157 1.5
Gary Sirkia F 123 52 103 155 1.3
Wade MacLeod F 101 65 81 146 1.4
Ken Stroud F 66 54 86 140 2.1
Kelly Ferner LW 57 56 82 138 1.4

Individual[edit]

  • Most goals in a season: Brent Demerais, 66 (1983–84) [48]
  • Most assists in a season: Ken Stroud, 83 (1977–78) [48]
  • Most points in a season: Ken Stroud, 140 (54g, 86a) (1977–78) [49]
  • Most penalty minutes in a season : Robert Pfoh, 376 (1982–83)
  • Most points in a season by a defenseman: Maco Balkovec, 78 (14g, 64a) (1990–91)

Team[edit]

  • Most points in a season: 101 (1977–78) [50]
  • Most wins in a season: 50 (1977–78) [5]
  • Most goals-for in a season: 489 (1977–78) [5]
  • Least goals-for in a season: 166 (1982–83) [14]
  • Least goals-against: 176 (1978–79) [12]
  • Most goals-against: 543 (1983–84) [7]

BCHL records[edit]

Former Cents player John "Butch" Tent. He holds the BCHL record for most seasons played. (Tied with Powell River's Heath Dennison) [2]
  • Most shutouts, one season: Rob Polman-Tuin, 5 (1978–79) tied with Surrey's Chris Peck (1996–97), Penticton's David Rathjen (1999–2000), Nanaimo's David LeNeveu (2000–01), and Cowichan Valley's Tim Boron (2001–02) [51]
  • Most assists in a single game: Ken Stroud, 9 (1977) tied with Vernon's Ernie Gare (1971) and Vernon's Duane Dennis (1989) [52]
  • Most total points in a single game: Ken Stroud, 12 (1977) tied with Penticton's Joe Murphy (1985) [52]
  • Fastest two goals in a game: Carl Poeschek, 6 seconds (1979) tied with Kelowna's Bill Haynes (1975) and Langley's Russ Wilderman (1975) [52]
  • Most seasons played with one team: John "Butch" Tent, 5 tied with Powell River's Heath Dennison.[53]
  • Most seasons played in the BCHL: John "Butch" Tent, 5 tied with Richard Sloan, Heath Dennison, Clint Black, Pat Hodgins, Brent Berry, Rob Millikin, Sjon Wynia, and Brian Henderson.[53]
  • Most goals allowed in a season: 543 (1983–84 season) [54]

|}

Awards and honours[edit]

The Merritt Centennials have captured numerous awards during the franchise's history. Centennials players have been named the BCHL Interior Conference most valuable player four times in the past twelve seasons. Forward Brandon Wong won the Interior Conference most valuable player award in 2005–06 along with being the winner of the Brett Hull trophy as BCHL Individual Scoring Champion. As a team, the Centennials have won the Interior Conference twice and once been the regular season champion of the BCHL.

BCHL Regular Season Champions

  • 1977–78

BCHL Interior Conference Regular Season Champions

  • 1977–78, 1978–79

Ryan Hadfield Trophy
BCHL Interior Conference Playoff Champions

  • 2000–01

BCHL Interior Conference Most Valuable Player

  • Jason Tapp (1996–97)
  • Shane Glover (1997–98)
  • Brandon Wong (2005–06)
  • Casey Pierro-Zabotel (2006–07)

Brett Hull Trophy
BCHL Top Scorer

  • Fred Berry (136 points – 1973–74)
  • Brandon Wong (116 points – 2005–06)

Bob Fenton Trophy
BCHL Interior Conference Most Sportsmanlike Player

  • Darrel Zelinski (1973–74)
  • Shane Glover (1997–98)
  • Neil Stevenson-Moore (1999-00)
  • Brandon Campos (2005–06)

Bruce Allison Memorial Trophy
BCHL Interior Conference Rookie of the Year

  • Fred Berry (1973–74)
  • Mike Josephson (1991–92)
  • Mike Ouellette (2000–01)

Goaltender of the Year
Lowest Goals Against Average – Regular Season

  • Rob Polman-Tuin (1977–78)
  • Rob Polman-Tuin (1978–79)
  • Barry Rysz (1988–89)

Joe Tennant Award
BCHL Interior Conference Coach of the Year

Distinguished Volunteer Award
BCHL Interior Conference Best Volunteer

  • Rusty Brewer (1990–91)


Preceded by
Richmond Sockeyes
Mowat Cup Champions
1978
Succeeded by
Richmond Sockeyes
Preceded by
Richmond Sockeyes
Alberta/BC Junior "A" Championship Champions
1978
Succeeded by
Spruce Grove Mets
Preceded by
Kelowna Buckaroos
BCHL Regular Season Champions
1977–78
Succeeded by
Bellingham Blazers
Preceded by
Kelowna Buckaroos
BCHL Interior Conference Regular Season Champions
1977–78 and 1978–79
Succeeded by
Penticton Knights
Preceded by
Vernon Vipers
BCHL Interior Conference Playoff Champions
2001
Succeeded by
Vernon Vipers

See also[edit]

References[edit]

General[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ "BCHL Provincial and Inter-provincial champions". B.C. Hockey League. Retrieved 2008-05-16. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Teams' Regular Season Record Holders". B.C. Hockey League. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  3. ^ a b c 2006–07 BCHL Annual Guide & Record Book (p.55)
  4. ^ 2006–07 BCHL Annual Guide & Record Book (p.70-71)
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h 2006–07 BCHL Annual Guide & Record Book (p.56)
  6. ^ a b c 2006–07 BCHL Annual Guide & Record Book (p.75)
  7. ^ a b c d "BCHL Regular Season Team Record". B.C. Hockey League. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  8. ^ "History of the British Columbia Hockey League". B.C. Hockey League. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  9. ^ 2006–07 BCHL Annual Guide & Record Book (p.72)
  10. ^ a b c d e f 2006–07 BCHL Annual Guide & Record Book (p.70)
  11. ^ a b c d e 2006–07 BCHL Annual Guide & Record Book (p.71)
  12. ^ a b c d e f 2006–07 BCHL Annual Guide & Record Book (p.57)
  13. ^ 2006–07 BCHL Annual Guide & Record Book (p.57-58)
  14. ^ a b c d 2006–07 BCHL Annual Guide & Record Book (p.58)
  15. ^ a b c 2006–07 BCHL Annual Guide & Record Book (p.59)
  16. ^ a b 2006–07 BCHL Annual Guide & Record Book (p.60)
  17. ^ 2006–07 BCHL Annual Guide & Record Book (p.60-61)
  18. ^ a b 2006–07 BCHL Annual Guide & Record Book (p.61)
  19. ^ 2006–07 BCHL Annual Guide & Record Book (p.61-62)
  20. ^ a b 2006–07 BCHL Annual Guide & Record Book (p.62)
  21. ^ 2006–07 BCHL Annual Guide & Record Book (p.63)
  22. ^ a b 2006–07 BCHL Annual Guide & Record Book (p.77)
  23. ^ 2006–07 BCHL Annual Guide & Record Book (p.63-64)
  24. ^ a b 2006–07 BCHL Annual Guide & Record Book (p.64)
  25. ^ 2006–07 BCHL Annual Guide & Record Book (p.65)
  26. ^ 2006–07 BCHL Annual Guide & Record Book (p.65-66)
  27. ^ a b 2006–07 BCHL Annual Guide & Record Book (p.66)
  28. ^ a b c 2006–07 BCHL Annual Guide & Record Book (p.67)
  29. ^ 2006–07 BCHL Annual Guide & Record Book (p.68)
  30. ^ 2006–07 BCHL Annual Guide & Record Book (p.76)
  31. ^ "2003–04 BCHL Transactions". B.C. Hockey League. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  32. ^ 2006–07 BCHL Annual Guide & Record Book (p.69)
  33. ^ "2004–05 Merritt Centennials Player Statistics". B.C. Hockey League. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  34. ^ "2004–05 BCHL Transactions". B.C. Hockey League. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  35. ^ "2005 Merritt Centennials Playoff Schedule". B.C. Hockey League. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  36. ^ a b "2005–06 BCHL Transactions". B.C. Hockey League. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  37. ^ 2006–07 BCHL Annual Guide & Record Book (p.48)
  38. ^ "2006 Merritt Centennials Playoff Schedule". B.C. Hockey League. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  39. ^ 2006–07 BCHL Annual Guide & Record Book (p.50)
  40. ^ "BCHL League Leading Players". B.C. Hockey League. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  41. ^ "BCHL Players Named to Team West". B.C. Hockey League. 2006-10-15. Retrieved 2008-06-08. 
  42. ^ "BCHL League Awards". B.C. Hockey League. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  43. ^ "2007 NHL Draft Third Round Picks". National Hockey League. 2007-06-22. Retrieved 2008-06-08. [dead link]
  44. ^ "2007–08 BCHL Regular Season Standings". BC Hockey League. 2007-06-22. Retrieved 2008-06-22. 
  45. ^ "2007–08 Merritt Centennials Player Statistics". BC Hockey League. 2007-06-22. Retrieved 2008-06-22. 
  46. ^ "Former BCHL Players Who Play or Have Played in the NHL". B.C. Hockey League. Retrieved 2008-08-23. 
  47. ^ "Legends of Hockey – NHL Player Search: Fred Berry". Hockey Hall of Fame and Museum. Retrieved 2008-08-23. 
  48. ^ a b "BCHL Teams Regular Season Record Holders". B.C. Hockey League. Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  49. ^ "Ken Stroud Career Statistics". Hockey DB. Retrieved 2008-07-07. 
  50. ^ "BCHL Regular Season Champions". B.C. Hockey League. Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  51. ^ "BCHL Single Game Records". B.C. Hockey League. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 
  52. ^ a b c "BCHL Single Game Records". B.C. Hockey League. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 
  53. ^ a b "BCHL Career Regular Season Leaders". B.C. Hockey League. Retrieved 2008-08-17. 
  54. ^ "BCHL Career Regular Season Team Record". B.C. Hockey League. Retrieved 2008-08-17. 

External links[edit]