Month: May 2010

Cents Strategic Plan Presention:

Although I had an interview with Cents head coach and GM Luke Pierce about the team’s upcoming strategic plan presentation last week, the team officially released this today:

Merritt, BC – May 31, 2010

The Merritt Centennials would like to take this opportunity to invite all fans, volunteers, billets, business people and anyone interested in hockey to our Strategic Plan Presentation on Wednesday, June 9th at 7 p.m. in the mezzanine at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.

The plan begins with the 2010-11 season and runs through the 2012-13 season with the goal set of competing for a national Royal Bank Cup junior ‘A’ championship.

“We encourage all members of our community, both new and long time residents to come take part in this exclusive presentation,” said Cents Head Coach and GM Luke Pierce. “I feel it is a great opportunity to kick off a new era on the right foot.”

“By bringing the community inside the operations of our hockey club, we hope to establish a strong and unique connection with the people of the Nicola Valley,” Pierce continued. “We are excited to receive feedback from those who are the driving force behind the success of this franchise, the citizens of our community.”

– 30 –

For further information, please contact Cents Head Coach and GM Luke Pierce at 250-378-3607.

The Merritt Centennials, proudly celebrating 37 years as the BCHL’s longest continuously-run franchise, are a non-profit, community-owned junior ‘A’ hockey club run by a dedicated team of investors, directors and volunteers.

I really hope that a big crowd turns out for what could end up being a very important meeting for the team and its future.

Cents Forward Daniel Chang Drafted by New Mexico:

(Cents forward Daniel Chang)

I’m not sure how I missed this earlier this week, but Cents forward Daniel Chang was drafted by New Mexico in the 14th round, 192nd overall in the North American Hockey League draft on Wednesday.

Chang was the only selection from the BCHL. However, there is a correlation between the Woodland Hills product and the yet-to-be-named New Mexico franchise. Chang was coached in the 2008-09 season by former Cents sniper Bill Muckalt when both were with the Valencia Flyers of the Western States Hockey League. Now Muckalt is the new coach of the New Mexico team and you have to wonder if he’ll try to woo Chang to leave the BCHL and join the NAHL.

Pierce Signing Official, Interview Audio:

(Cents Head Coach/GM Luke Pierce)

The Cents have made the signing of Luke Pierce as coach and GM official with the following media release:

Merritt, BC – May 26, 2010

The Merritt Centennials Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Head Coach & GM Luke Pierce has agreed to terms of a three year contract extension through the 2012-13 season.

“This signing is a significant step in achieving our goal of becoming a strong contender in the BCHL,” said Cents President Jerry Canuel. “This provides our organization with the stability and long-term focus necessary for success.”

“Luke is young, articulate, and understands what it takes to win in our small community of Merritt,” continued Canuel. “Luke is well respected in our community and despite his relatively short time in the BCHL, he is also very well respected by other teams and coaches.”

“Luke has a passion for the game and he embraces the ‘team’ attitude and philosophy,” expressed Canuel. “Under his guise, we are very encouraged and optimistic about our club’s development and growth in Merritt.”

“The Centennials Board of Directors felt that with the team’s improvement in the latter part of last season along with the enthusiasm and passion Luke has for hockey and our community, it was essential for him to be involved in the future and overall direction of our organization.” said Cents Governor and Director of Hockey Operations Brian Barrett.

“I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to continue my young coaching career here in Merritt,” said Pierce. “The Centennials and this community have a very special meaning to me not only as a hockey coach, but also as a proud resident of the Nicola Valley.”

“My goal for the next three years is to create a culture here with our players that our fans can directly relate to,” continues Pierce. “Along with the Board of Directors, my aim is to establish the Centennials as the pride of this city and in time, I believe we will accomplish that.”

I had the chance to chat with Luke yesterday after the signing was made official.

Cents Head Coach and GM Luke Pierce

Cents Sign Luke Pierce to a Three Year Contract Extension:

I haven’t received an official media release from the Centennials at this point, but the club’s Director of Hockey Operations Brian Barrett announced on my morning show today that Head Coach and GM Luke Pierce has been signed to a three year contract extension. Luke took over from Dylan Forsythe last November and led the Cents to their first playoff season in two years, finishing with a record of 14-17-0-1 as head coach.

Cents Governor & Director of Hockey Operations Brian Barrett

I’ve also been told that the Cents expect to name Luke’s assistant coach in the next week or so.

Cents Strategic Plan, Soquila Audio:

The Centennials have taken a major step towards stability and credibility by establishing a three year strategic plan for success. The plan sees the team building towards a goal of contending for the RBC Cup in the 2012-13 season. I chatted with Cents coach and GM Luke Pierce about the strategic plan today:

Cents Head Coach and GM Luke Pierce

As Luke mentioned in the interview, the team has a community presentation set for Wednesday June 9 at 7 p.m. in the mezzanine at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena. I really hope that everyone in the community comes out to the presentation. I know the club is hoping for attendance from fans, billets, sponsors, business people, volunteers and anyone else interested in the Cents franchise.


I also had the chance to speak with former Cents captain Jordan Soquila about his recent commitment to Queens University from his home in Maple Ridge:

Cents Graduating Captain Jordan Soquila

Former Cents Coach Kevin MacKay Hired in Salmon Arm:

Kevin MacKay, who coached the Cents briefly during the 2001-02 season, has been hired by the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. MacKay was hired by the Centennials after Mike Vandekamp jumped ship to the Vernon Vipers in 2001. He was then replaced by Al Glendinning midway through the 2001-02 season. Here’s the release from the Silverbacks on MacKay’s hiring:

The Salmon Arm SilverBacks Junior “A” Hockey Club is pleased to announce that Kevin MacKay will join the hockey operations staff for the upcoming 2010 – 2011season.

Kevin will assume the title of Associate Head Coach/Assistant General Manager. MacKay has spent the last several years coaching in the KIJHL, most recently as the Head Coach/GM of the Kimberley Dynamiters.

Prior to that, Kevin spent time with Hockey Canada as well as being a Head Coach/GM at the Junior “A” level in British Columbia and Alberta.

“To add someone to our staff with Kevin’s credentials is outstanding for the organization and our players. I have known him personally for over 15 years. He knows the league and is a first-class person and coach” commented GM/ Head Coach Rylan Ferster.

For further comments please contact the SilverBacks hockey operations office at 250-832-3856 ext 106.

What’s Next for Timberwolves Players?

Now that the BCHL’s Governors have decided to suspend the Williams Lake franchise, the status of their sixteen eligible returnees is up in the air. The last time the T-Wolves took a hiatus, their players were dispersed in a draft which was shrouded in secrecy. Here are the players and where they ended up to start the 2007-08 season:

Adam Knopp – Prince George (BCHL)
Tim Holloway – Prince George (BCHL)
Matt Lees – Prince George (BCHL)
Mike Leidl – Quesnel (BCHL)
Kenny Carpenter – Quesnel (BCHL)
Jared Collen – Powell River (BCHL)
Neil Chambers – Powell River (BCHL)
Trevor Wilson – Powell River (BCHL)
Ben Payne – Alberni Valley (BCHL)
Lee Patzer – Alberni Valley (BCHL)
Adam Baldassarre – Alberni Valley (BCHL)
Brian Matte – Cowichan Valley (BCHL)
Warren Muir – Merritt (BCHL)
Dustin Sobchak – Victoria (BCHL)
Alex Evin – Penticton (BCHL)
Raj Toor – Abbotsford (PIJHL)
Joe Vetere – Calgary (AJHL)
Clay Cumiskey – Edmonton (WHL)

I asked BCHL Commissioner John Grisdale about the draft procedure three years ago and he stayed pretty coy on the subject. I’m not saying that the BCHL did things wrong, but I think the fans should know how everything broke down once the dust settled and player’s CJHL rights changed hands. Based on a straight standings determination, the teams heading into the dispersal draft should have chosen like this:

1. Quesnel
2. Surrey
3. Alberni Valley
4. Westside
5. Merritt
6. Powell River
7. Langley
8. Burnaby
9. Prince George
10. Salmon Arm
11. Trail
12. Vernon
13. Cowichan Valley
14. Victoria
15. Penticton
16. Nanaimo

Arguably the most sought after player from Williams Lake in 2007 was their goaltender Alex Evin. So the question is, how did Evin get picked up by the second place Penticton Vees when Quesnel had first pick in the dispersal draft? Now that’s not to say Mike Leidl wouldn’t have been a worthy choice first overall and he very well may have been, but the fact is we don’t know. I find it hard to believe that if every carded player on the T-Wolves roster at the end of 2006-07 season was available that Evin would drop all the way to 15th. If Penticton made a trade to move up and take Evin, no problem, but that didn’t happen as far as anyone knows.

If each player was released and free to find their own place to play for 2007-08, that’s fine too, but there were a number of articles online (including Powell River’s own website) that referred to the former Williams Lake players being dispersed in a draft, so it seems clear that’s what happened.

Here are the players eligible to return to the BCHL in 2010-11:

F – Trent Murdoch (91)
F – Justin Bardarson (90)
F – Danny Merth (91)
F – Anthony DeLong (91)
F – Keenan Bailey (91)
D – Kyle Beaulieu (91)
D – Jake Harcoff (91)
D – Clayton McEwan (91)
F – Cameron Hoffman (91)
D – Brady Fuller (91)
F – Calvin Johnson (92)
F – Jordan Hirano (92)
F – Tanner Clarkson (93)
D – Stefan Virtanen (92)
F – Cody Wiseman (93)
G – Sean Donnelly (90)

If the BCHL does a true dispersal draft based on standings, here’s how the draft order would shake down:

1. Prince George
2. Coquitlam
3. Merritt
4. Trail
5. Quesnel
6. Cowichan Valley
7. Nanaimo
8. Salmon Arm
9. Surrey
10. Langley
11. Victoria
12. Powell River
13. Westside
14. Alberni Valley
15. Penticton
16. Vernon

Regardless which way the sixteen eligible returning players find teams for next year, I only hope that the process is transparent for fans and media to digest.

EDIT: Word is now that there will be no dispersal draft and all of the above players are free to tryout or sign with any team.