Month: June 2010

Former Cents Forward Don Nachbaur Named Coach of WHL’s Spokane Chiefs, Cents AGM focuses on all the positives:

(Former Cents forward Don Nachbaur, being introduced at a news conference in Spokane today)


Spokane, WA – June 30, 2010

The Spokane Chiefs have named Don Nachbaur, ninth on the WHL’s all-time coaching win list, as the organization’s 11th head coach in franchise history. Nachbaur has won 431 games in 12 seasons, six each in Seattle and Tri-City, as a head coach in the WHL and is a two-time winner of the Dunc McCallum Memorial Trophy for the WHL’s Coach of the Year (1995-Seattle, 2008-Tri-City).

The contract between Nachbaur and the Chiefs is a five-year agreement.

“I always appreciated the fact that Spokane was a strong, well run franchise,” Nachbaur said.

“When coaching against Spokane I thought they were always one of the toughest teams to play. The word professional comes to mind. It is a great building, Spokane has good teams and you always want to be a part of something like that.”

“We are thrilled to have a coach of Don’s credentials head up our staff. He is a very experienced and accomplished head coach who works extremely hard. He gets the most out of his players and his teams are committed and dedicated to their gameplan,” Chiefs General Manager Tim Speltz said.

Nachbaur’s first season as a head coach, 1994-95, resulted in a 42 win campaign and his first coach of the year honor with the Seattle Thunderbirds. In 1996-97 the Thunderbirds won 41 games and the Western Conference Championship. They advanced to the WHL Finals for the only time in franchise history.

Following a two year stint as an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Phantoms of the American Hockey League, Nachbaur returned to the WHL with the Tri-City Americans as their head coach in 2003-04. In six full seasons there he recorded a 235-155-25-17 (W-L-SL-OTL) record including consecutive seasons of 47, 52 and 49 wins in his last three years.

The Americans’ 108 point campaign in 2007-08 set a franchise record for wins (52) and points and resulted in the Scotty Munro Trophy for most points in the WHL. Nachbaur also won his second WHL Coach of the Year trophy. In the post-season, he guided the Americans to the Western Conference Finals, eventually losing a seven game series that featured five overtime games, including three that went into double overtime, to the eventual Memorial Cup Champion Chiefs.

“The thing I remember most was how both teams went into each other’s building and won,” Nachbaur said

“It was a close, close series and there are a lot of memories from it. There was good jockeying going on between the coaches with the systems but at the end of the day neither team wanted to lose. It is a credit to both teams and the culture they had in the locker room.

“It goes hand in hand with every team’s rival. We didn’t like losing to them and they didn’t like losing to us and you have to respect that,” Nachbaur said.

Nachbaur helped the Americans win their first two U.S. Division regular season titles in 2007-08 and 2008-09. His WHL teams have qualified for the playoffs each season and he stands as one of 11 coaches in WHL history with over 400 career wins.

The Kitimat, British Columbia native left the Americans organization last July to accept the head coaching position with the Binghamton Senators, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Ottawa Senators. Two weeks ago, Nachbaur resigned from that post.

“I know the WHL and how well it is run,” Nachbaur said. “I have a grasp on what it takes to win in the league. Hockey in North America is very competitive and the WHL doesn’t take a back seat to anybody.”

As a player, Nachbaur spent one season in the BCJHL in 1976-77 with the Merritt Centennials, posting 22 goals and 27 assists in 54 games. He also played two seasons in the WHL, both with the Billings Bighorns, and scored 67 goals and 146 points in 137 games from 1977-79. He still shares the WHL record with five goals in one playoff game helping lead Billings to a 7-4 win over New Westminster in 1978.

The Hartford Whalers selected him in the third round, 60th overall, in the 1979 NHL Entry Draft. The first of his 15 year professional career began the following season in the American Hockey League with Springfield. Nachbaur’s career included 223 games in the NHL with Hartford, Edmonton and Philadelphia. He also played 469 games in the AHL, recording 174 goals, 361 points and 1,452 penalty minutes. He retired in 1993-94 after four seasons in Austria.

Nachbaur and his family, wife Kim, 18-year-old daughter Sydney and 14-year-old son Daniel, will make Spokane their home.

(Here’s the Cents staff and Board of Directors in a photo taken after last week’s AGM. Yes – that is yours truly on the far left!)

(Back row, left to right) Paul Barnes, Nick Vischschraper, Beth Nadeau, Frank Etchart, Tom Reynolds, Brian Barrett and Tod Dean. (Front row, left to right) Brian Wiebe, Maddison Canuel, Jerry Canuel, Andrea Barnes, Cathy Frizzell and Luke Pierce. Missing are Assistant Coach Chad DeLeeuw and Director Betty Doberstein.

By Ian Webster – Merritt Herald

The Merritt Centennials hockey team held its Annual General Meeting last week at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.

While the turnout of local citizens was not huge, there was plenty of good news to be heard by those in attendance – not only about the Cents’ season just past, but the organization’s prospects for the coming season and on into the future.

Centennials’ President Jerry Canuel kicked off the Thursday night meeting with a recap of the 2009-10 hockey year, from its somewhat tumultuous start back in September to its resoundingly successful finish in late February.

During that six month period, Merritt’s storied BCHL franchise worked its way through no fewer than three ownership situations, and just as many coaching changes.

“It was a real learning experience for all of us,” understated Canuel on behalf of the entire Centennials’ Executive and Board of Directors.

Canuel then went on to say, “The best thing that could have happened, however, was when we put a local brand on the team with the hiring of Luke [Pierce as Head Coach and General Manager], and the bringing of Maury [Grant] and Josh [Yurkowski] on board. Our attendance went up, there was renewed confidence throughout the community, and a better attitude both on and off the ice.”

Brian Barrett, the Centennials’ current Director of Hockey Operations, and long time supporter of the junior A hockey team in one capacity or another, re-iterated Canuel’s feelings.

“Luke has been such a huge positive to this club, and I see a bright future ahead for the team,” said Barrett. “It’s unbelievable to be involved with a franchise in the best junior A league in Canada.”

Barrett went on to state that operating such a franchise comes with its challenges, as the British Columbia Hockey League continues to become more and more organized and more professional.

“There is a manual now that spells out the procedures and expectations for league members in almost every area of their operations, both on and off the ice. It’s a ‘standards’ document that will be a real challenge for small-market teams like Merritt to meet.”

Following Barrett’s comments, Merritt Centennials’ Treasurer Beth Nadeau was able to report to the AGM that “for the first time in a very long time the Merritt Centennials made money”.

Nadeau went on to say that the team’s revenues were greatly aided by the involvement of the forestry sector, and a small-scale salvaging program that has been initiated with the Ministry of Forests and local private businesses.

Nadeau also made reference to the tremendous work of the Centennials’ Booster Club – a small group comprised of tireless volunteers – which raised over $52,000 to help with the team’s expenses.

Both Director Tom Reynolds and Marketing Manager Maddison Canuel spoke of the improvements that have been made over the course of the past year in the areas of promotion and marketing.

“It was a year spent getting organized, and becoming more professional,” stated Reynolds, while Canuel added, “As the year progressed, a really good vibe evolved.”

Canuel also proudly announced that Merritt was the only franchise in the league to actually increase its average attendance for the 2009-2010 season.

Head Coach Luke Pierce then took centre stage, and said at the outset, “I continue to feel fortunate to be involved with the hockey club, and I’m really excited about how things are coming together hockey-wise.”

Pierce said that many of the important pieces of the puzzle are starting to fall into place, with a strong scouting and recruiting team assembled across North America and with the hiring of a full-time assistant coach in Chad De Leeuw.

Pierce stated that the signing two weeks ago of one of the best prospects in British Columbia, 16-year-old Jakob Reichert from Langley, for the upcoming season, “is a real coup for our hockey club”.

Brian Wiebe, Program Director for Q101 and an ardent supporter of junior A hockey, went on to detail the immense interest that is “out there” in the Merritt Centennials.

“The team has both a web page and a blog site, and is on Facebook,” Wiebe explained. “The web page had 32,400 unique visitors last year, while the blog has had over 7,000 visits since March.”

It was left to Rusty Brewer, Centennials’ Booster Club member and last season’s BCHL Volunteer of the Year to sum things up best with respect to the evening’s news and events.

“I think that I’ve probably been involved in 25 or more AGMs over the years. Never have I felt the strength that we have right now with the current directors and staff.”

Debtless Cents optimistic, but new BCHL protocols a challenge:

This is posted on the Merritt News website.

June 29, 2010

John O’Connor
News Editor

The Merritt Centennials new board of governors will have its work cut out for it with a new league protocol and a promise to deliver more entertaining hockey for fans.

But this year is going to be a little different for the board. For the first time in a long time the Centennials have come out on the plus side in their budget and it looks like they will be able to meet the league’s suggested $450,000 operating budget.

A new board of directors was named at the Cents annual general meeting last Wednesday night at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.

The new board is shaped by newcomers Andrea Barnes, Nik Vischschraper and Paul Barnes; while returnees Tod Dean, Brian Barrett, Frank Etchart, and Betty Doberstein round out the remaining seats.

“We’ve got some stability on the Board with all but one director returning and we’re excited about that,” said Jerry Canuel, who will again sit as team president this season. “We’ve got good community people who have been involved with the Cents and junior hockey in the past, and each director brings a huge amount of enthusiasm to the group.”

Tom Reynolds will sit as vice president with Cathy Frizzell as secretary, and Beth Nadeau as treasurer.

Despite Brian Barrett’s comments during the AGM that BCHL team owners appear to be trying to drive out small-market teams like the Cents, the new directorship will get a chance to show that it isn’t always the highest payroll that succeeds at winning games and entertaining fans.

“It was a tumultuous start to the year,” admitted Canuel, speaking of the Cents slow start last season.

Following the hiring and firing of three coaches, the Cents finally found what they were looking for in a local man and former Centennial player Luke Pierce.

“That enabled us to bring in our own brand,” said Canuel of hiring Pierce.

“We showed improvement, and I think what we did was instill confidence in the community.”

“Luke has a vision that we’ve all bought into,” continued Canuel.

Executing Pierce’s vision may not be as easy as it would have been before. The BCHL has implemented a new operations protocol manual that each team is expected to abide by.

“It provides each team with the direction they have to go (in a professional manner),” said Barrett.

“A lot of it is probably being brought in because of the Williams Lake situation.”

In May, the BCHL board of governors voted in favour of suspending the Williams Lake Timberwolves franchise due to what it said was the club’s lack of “good standing.”

“This year is going to be a real tough year as far as reaching expectations with the operations manual,” continued Barrett.

Pierce appeared not to concerned with the new BCHL protocol but said it goes a little overboard.

Home games at NV Memorial Arena may have a different feel this season as the Cents look to recruit more security staff.

And what of the much-complained-about arena heating? Barrett says there is not much he can do differently without upgrades to the existing system. City council may soon get a visit from the hockey club, looking to improve one of the league’s oldest buildings.

The Cents have beefed up the communication side of things by announcing Brian Wiebe as their media liaison person.

Wiebe currently maintains the Merritt Centennials website as well as his own personal blog, which is dedicated to everything and anything Cents. Maddison Canuel will continue in the marketing and sales department.

Merritt Centennials Home Projected Limited, which owns a house on Nicola Lake, is still looking to sell the property for an estimated $795,000.

The board admits that it made an error when it had the opportunity to sell the house, but instead held out to sell higher. The board says as markets dove it made it more difficult to sell.

Nadeau says the Cents budget will be released within the next few weeks.

Nicola Valley Thunder Minor Lacrosse:

Shauna Clinging was on top of things again, getting these lacrosse scores to me this morning:

Merritt Mountain Towing Midget Thunder roared into a B division provincial playoff spot over the weekend. On Saturday they faced off against Kelowna in a grueling match That resulted in a 5-5- tie after three regulation periods. The first twenty sudden death overtime ended with the two team still deadlocked. Dallas Grismer-Voght scored the winner less then five minutes into the second overtime period.

On Sunday they travelled to N. Ok. where they defeated the N. Okanagan Legends 5-2.

The Royal LePage Novice Thunder earned a spot at the zone playoff tournament by finishing 4th in zone. After defeating Kelowna 12-5 they were knocked out of the tournament by Penticton by a margin of 13-3.

Cents AGM News, Former Cents Coach/GM Joey Bouchard Returns to Whitecourt, Former Cents Defenceman Ryan Moir Commits to Mount Royal University:

The Cents AGM was this past Wednesday at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena and although there weren’t a ton of people in attendance, there was a lot covered.

Among the items was the fact that for the fiscal year of 2009-10, the Centennials Society did NOT lose money. As a former Board Member and past-President, I am so happy to see things turned around for the team financially due to some investors putting money into the operation, plus the ton of fundraising by the Cents Booster Club and regular revenue streams generated by the team. Two playoff home dates helped big time in bringing in some much needed revenue. I’ve got a feeling this season will produce even more.

The other main item addressed at the AGM was the election of the team’s 2010-11 Board of Directors. Here’s the official release issued by the Cents on Thursday:


Merritt, BC – June 25, 2010

The Merritt Centennials Junior ‘A’ Hockey Club Society announced today the 2010-11 Board of Directors as elected at its Annual General Meeting on Wednesday June 25, 2010.

The Executive for the upcoming season includes President/Chairman of the Board Jerry Canuel, Vice-President Tom Reynolds, Treasurer Beth Nadeau and Secretary Cathy Frizzell after all allowed their names to stand for a second term.

Also returning to the Board for a second term is Team Governor Brian Barrett and Booster Club President Betty Doberstein, plus Directors At Large Tod Dean and Frank Etchart.

New Directors include Andrea Barnes, Nik Vischschraper and Paul Barnes.

“We’ve got some stability on the Board with all but one Director returning and we’re excited about that,” said Canuel. “We’ve got good community people who have been involved with the Cents and junior hockey in the past and each Director brings a huge amount of enthusiasm to the group. I look forward to working with each of them in the next year to continue to build on our program here.”


For further information, please contact President and Chairman of the Board Jerry Canuel at 250-378-9266 or

The Merritt Centennials, proudly celebrating 38 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.

Immediately following the meeting, I had the chance to speak with Cents President and Chairman of the Board Jerry Canuel.

Cents President/Chairman of the Board Jerry Canuel
Click here to download

Joey Bouchard, who was hired by the Cents last summer as coach and GM before resigning in August, has resurfaced with the team he coached last, the junior B Whitecourt Wolverines, as their GM. Here’s the release from the Wolverines website:


In a move demonstrating the commitment to excellence that has become the hallmark of the Whitecourt Wolverines, Team Owner & President Brent Stark announced today the following steps designed to bring both the Provincial and National Junior B Hockey Championships to Whitecourt.
Joey Bouchard who previously lead the Wolverines from the bench in their first 2 seasons which saw the team advance to Game 7 of the finals in year 1 and win the NWJHL Championship in Year 2 and who is largely credited with being the architect of the teams core group of players has returned to the organization as Vice President & General Manager.
With a resume that not only included the history of his association with the Wolverines but with Junior A clubs in Alberta coupled with a strong scouting and recruitment background, the aim of Bouchard’s appointment is to maintain the dominating nature of the club on the ice as well as its reputation as a positive force within the community it calls home.
Brent Stark in discussing the appointment with the clubs management group stated that; “Joey has been a vital part of building this club and we are fortunate to once again have Joey in the fold working with our franchise but also assisting us in developing our “life, school, hockey” program which will see our retiring players hopefully move on into college programs utilizing Joey’s significant contacts in that area.”
Stark also stated that the expectations of the team are high from a fan perspective and that the community deserved a provincial / national championship. It is with that fact in mind Stark went on to say the he felt Bouchard would be a natural fit for the position.
On top of his obvious hockey background, Bouchard also brings with him a degree in Education, a fact specifically pointed to by Stark. “ I have always stated that this team was to represent what youth can do with their lives if given the opportunities. Education plays a huge role in that regard. This is why the Wolverines have always been strong supporters of not only the Percy Baxter Hockey Academy, but of Minor Hockey in general. Joey’s appointment brings us back to that goal.”

(Former Cents defenceman Ryan Moir)

Former Cents defenceman Ryan Moir, who played 81 games between 2007 and 2009 in Merritt, has committed to Mount Royal University of the ACAC. Here’s the release from the AJHL website:

Canucks Press Release: Moir to Attend MRC
June 21, 2010

Ryan Moir to Attend MRC

June 21st, 2010 – The Calgary Canucks take great pride in announcing that graduating defenseman Ryan Moir has committed to attend Mount Royal University starting with this coming semester.

During his time with our team Ryan was one of the top defensemen and as a testament to that he was chosen as the top defenseman for the Canucks at the recent Annual Awards Banquet. He was also selected to play for the 2010 AJHL South Division All-Star team.

The coaching staff and the entire Board of Directors congratulate Ryan and his family and wish him every success in his future scholastic and hockey endeavours.

Former Cents Forward Don Nachbaur Poised To Coach Chiefs:

This is in today’s Kamloops Daily News:

Nachbaur poised to coach Chiefs
June 23,2010

Daily News Sports Editor

Don Nachbaur, who resigned Tuesday after one season as head coach of the AHL’s Binghamton Senators, is expected to be named the next head coach of the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs.

Two sources told The Daily News on Tuesday that Nachbaur left Binghamton, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, in order to become the Chiefs’ head coach.

“It is a difficult day for me as I step down as the head coach of the Binghamton Senators,” Nachbaur said in a statement. “This was not an easy decision for me, but it is based on personal reasons and I think it is the right choice for both myself and my family.”

Nachbaur resigned last summer after five seasons as head coach of the Tri-City Americans and signed with Ottawa. Binghamton went 36-35-6-3 with Nachbaur at the helm, but didn’t make the playoffs.

Nachbaur was a fan-favourite in Tri-City as the Americans had unprecedented success with him as head coach. His run finished with back-to-back U.S. Division pennants.

The Chiefs and Americans have a tremendous rivalry that is about to get even hotter.

While Nachbaur moved to Binghamton, his family stayed in Richland, Wash. In fact, his son, Daniel, played for the bantam Spokane Jr. Chiefs, one of the teams that played in the 42nd annual KIBIHT.

With Spokane, Nachbaur will replace Hardy Sauter, who lost his job after last season when the club chose not to exercise an option.

The Chiefs were 45-22-3-2, good for fourth place in the Western Conference, but just two points out of first. They lost a first-round series in seven games to the Portland Winterhawks.

With the Edmonton Oil Kings having signed Derek Laxdal as head coach last week and the Chiefs about to introduce Nachbaur, it leaves the Kootenay Ice as the only one of the WHL’s 22 teams without a head coach.

Cents Announce AGM, Former Cents Coach Enio Sacilotto Joins WHL’s Chilliwack Bruins:

The Cents have announced the details for their AGM on Thursday. Here’s the official release from the team:


Merritt, BC – June 22, 2010

The Merritt Centennials Junior ‘A’ Hockey Club Society would like to invite all residents of the Nicola Valley to its Annual General Meeting on Thursday June 24, 2010 at 7 p.m. in the Mezzanine at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.

The evening will consist of reports on team finances for the 2009-10 fiscal year, marketing, season tickets, billeting, booster club, hockey operations and the election of the 2010-11 Board of Directors. Nominations for the Board of Directors will be permitted from the floor during the meeting.

“This is a good opportunity for residents to see how our meetings are run,” said Cents President and Chairman of the Board Jerry Canuel. “They can see our year-end financial report and the whole program.”

“As a community-owned franchise, we want to be as transparent as we can and that’s why we invite anyone to come to our AGM and offer their thoughts or concerns,” continued Canuel. “This is Merritt’s team, our community’s team, and that’s what we want it to be all about.”


For further information, please contact President and Chairman of the Board Jerry Canuel at 250-378-9266 or

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.

Meanwhile, former Cents coach Enio Sacilotto is back coaching in North America with the Chilliwack Bruins. Here’s the release from the Bruins:

Bruins Add to Coaching Staff

Monday, June 21, 2010

Chilliwack Bruins General Manager and Head Coach Marc Habscheid announced today that the Bruins have hired Enio Sacilotto as Assistant Coach.

“We’re extremely pleased to have Enio join our organization,”said Habscheid. “He’ll be a good addition to our coaching staff. He brings a lot of coaching and teaching experience to our club.”

Sacilotto, who specializes in video analysis, practice planning, drill design and practice execution, has spent the last several years coaching in Europe including stints in Denmark, Norway and Switzerland.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to join the Bruins team and work with Marc. Our paths crossed briefly at Hockey Canada a few years back and it’s going to be good to work with him on a full time basis.”

You have to wonder if Sacilotto will wind up coaching last year’s Cents back-up Cole Holowenko as the 17-year-old likely has a good chance of cracking the Bruins lineup for the 2010-11 season. By the way, Sacilotto was one of three coaches (along with Chuck Tapp and Roddy Rodgers) behind the Merritt bench during the dismal 1983-84 season. The year was the Centennials worst in franchise history, with a record of 8-51-1. The team’s goals-against was 543 or an average of 9 (!) per game, which still stands as a BCHL record.

Chase Awarded Expansion KIJHL Team, Nicola Valley Minor Lacrosse:

Chase, which lost its Chiefs to Kelowna earlier this year, has been awarded an expansion franchise in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. League governors met over the weekend in Chase for the KIJHL AGM and voted 16-2 in favour of a team in that community rejoining for the 2011-12 season. Brad Fox has been hired by the community-owned franchise as Director of Hockey Operations.

Here’s the latest on the Nicola Valley Minor Lacrosse Association, courtesy of Shauna Clinging, who handles PR for the group. Way to go kids!

Lots of lacrosse action over the last weekend of the season.

Saturday, the Royal LePage Novices played a close game in Pentiction losing to the Penticton Heat 10-8.

Meanwhile in Kelowna the Contain-It Storage Bantams downed Kodiaks 13-2. Goalie Aaron Montreuil had an outstanding game in net and four assists.

The Royal LePage Novice Thunder faced of against N. Okanagan in Armstrong on Sunday in another close battle. Fred Ware scored the winner with 19 seconds left in the game for a final score of 6-5.

The Century 21 Peewees split a double header in Kelowna on Sunday. They lost the morning game 4-3, but picked up the win 8-7 in the afternoon.