Month: March 2011

Cents Merritt Spring Camp Full, but Second Camp Added for Abbotsford in June, TRU WolfPack Falls 5-2 to SFU in BCIHL Championship:

I’ll have more on Spring Camp in the next day or so with Cents Head Coach/GM Luke Pierce, but the team announced today that this weekend’s camp is full and now another evaluation camp is set for June in Abbotsford. Finally, some news about the current Centennials team! Not that I’m sick of talking about all the great Merritt alumni, but it’s good to look ahead to the future too!

The Merritt Centennials would like to announce that their 2011 Spring Camp scheduled for April 1 – 3 at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena is now full.

“The response we’ve received from players interested in becoming a member of the Centennials organization has been excellent,” said Cents GM/Head Coach Luke Pierce. “Because there was such significant interest, I’m pleased to announce that we’re planning a second camp for June.”

The Centennials will hold another Spring Evaluation Camp in Abbotsford on the weekend of June 24, 25 and 26.

For more information regarding either the Merritt camp this weekend or the Abbotsford camp in June, please contact Cents GM/Head Coach Luke Pierce by phone at 250-378-3607 or email luke@merrittcentennials.com

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(Former Cents netminder Anthony Manfredi – photo courtesy TRU Athletics)

The WolfPack battled hard but came up short losing 5-2 to SFU in the BCIHL Championship Final Sunday night.
SFU held a 1-0 lead after 1 period with a Power Play goal from Colby Kulhanek at 7:56.
The Clan stretched their lead to 2-0 after the 2nd period on another Power Play marker from Paul Mascone at 3:54.
SFU extended their lead to 3-0 on yet another Power Play goal from Mascone at 12:56 of the 3rd period.
TRU finally got a puck past SFU goaltender Justin Mulholland with a Power Play marker of their own from Zac Rasmussen at 11:48 of the 3rd period.
SFU restored their 3 goal lead with their 4th Power Play goal of the night from Ben Van Lare at 9:51 of the 3rd period.
WolfPack veteran Joel Leonard kept TRU’s hopes alive with a goal 13 seconds later to narrow the score to 4-2.
But Ben Van Lare sealed the victory with an empty net goal at 2:02 of the 3rd period.
Despite the loss TRU goaltender Anthony Manfredi was solid once again for the ‘Pack.
TRU Head Coach Lorne Cumming said, “I thought the guys put in a good effort. We didn’t get the start we wanted but we battled hard. Unfortunately we hit a couple of posts that could have been the goals that made the difference. And while it is very disappointing to loose I am very proud of all of our players.”

Merritt Midgets finish fourth at Provincials, Cents Alumni Tyler Halliday leads TRU WolfPack over UVic:

The Merritt Midget Reps finished fourth at the Provincials after a 4-3 loss today against Whitehorse. The Junior Cents roster featured no fewer than six players who have attended either Spring Camp or Training Camp with the Junior A Centennials (Malik Miller, Cole Fex, Briar McNaney, Eric Schmidt, Brendan Colter & Mike Desimone) and were coached by former Cents assistant coach Joe Quewezance and former Cents player Cuyler Dickie.

Merritt finished the tournament with a 3-3 record, but lost its last two straight to come home with the fourth place finish. I know I speak for the entire community when I congratulate the Midgets for everything they accomplished and there’s absolutely no shame in being among the top four in their division for the province.

(Former Cents forward Tyler Halliday)

There’s a distinct Centennials flavour on the TRU WolfPack’s BCIHL team, as six players (Lucas Daoust, Tyler Halliday, Jassi Sangha, Anthony Manfredi, Riley Wall & David Gore) have played in Merritt as a signed or affiliate player.

Here’s the story from the TRU Athletics website:

The TRU WolfPack Men’s Hockey team opened the BCIHL Championship Tournament with an impressive 6-3 win over UVIC Vikes.

Kyle Allan opened the scoring at the 16:53 mark of the first period with an assist from Lucas Daoust.

Andrew Fisher scored on the Power Play at 15:12 of the 1st period assists coming from Joel Leonard and Tyler Halliday.

UVIC pulled within 1 on a goal from Tommy Adair at 12:04 of the 1st period.

Darcy Huisman scored a clutch goal with :43 seconds left in the 1st period to restore the 2 goal advantage. Joel Leonard and Andrew Fisher drew the assists.

TRU scored 2 goals in the second period; Joel Leonard, assists Tyler Halliday and Andrew Fisher at 5:02 and Zac Rasmussen assisted by Jassi Sangha at 2:28 to stretch the ‘Pack’s lead to 5-1 after 2 periods.

Jesse Anderson scored at the 15:31 mark of the 3rd period assisted by Taylor Stuart and Kyle Allan.

UVIC responded with two 3rd period goals; Thomas Bruton on a Penalty Shot at 11:20 and Brett Campbell at 2:29.

Riley Wall had an exceptional game in net for the ‘Pack stopping 22 of 25 Vikes shots. UVIC netminder Tim Manuel stopped 23 of 29 WolfPack shots.

Notes: The WolfPack now face SFU Friday night 7:30 pm at Bill Copeland Arena the winner of that game proceeds directly to the BCIHL Final Sunday at 6:30 pm while the loser faces an elimination semi-final Saturday.

Midget Rep Centennials onto Semifinals at Provincials, Wade MacLeod signs Pro Tryout Contract, scores in his first AHL game, Steve Munn to retire?:

The Merritt Midget Rep Centennials won their game at the Tier 3 Midget Provincials in Cranbrook today 6-3 over Windermere and then got some help from West Vancouver to advance to the semifinals tomorrow.

The Jr. Cents meet Sooke tomorrow night at 8 o’clock. Brendan Colter, who was in camp with the Jr. A Centennials last August, had four goals in the win today. The Midgets needed Smithers to win outright or West Vancouver to win by a substantial margin tonight to advance as only the top two teams move on to the semifinals. With the win, West Vancouver, Merritt and Smithers all finished with a record of 3-1. Merritt and West Van both advanced due to owning the tiebreaker over Smithers.

A huge congrats goes out to former Centennials sniper Wade MacLeod, who signed a pro tryout contract on Monday with the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League and then went out and scored his first pro goal tonight in a 3-2 loss to the Connecticut Whale, a team which started the season with another ex-Centennial in Brandon Wong on its roster.

Wade played on a line with 2008 Columbus first round draft pick Nikita Filatov and Ben Guite, a veteran of 175 NHL games.

Here’s the story on Wade scoring his first pro goal from the Falcons website:

FALCONS ONE SHORT AGAINST WHALE

March 23, 2011 – The Springfield Falcons built a two goal lead Wednesday night, but the Connecticut Whale came back with three unanswered goals of their own to skate away with a 3-2 win over the Falcons at the XL Center. Rookies Wade MacLeod and Paul Dainton both made their AHL debuts on Wednesday night with MacLeod scoring a goal and Dainton stopping 31 of 34 shots.

The Falcons night started out well as MacLeod scored his first goal as a pro in his first period as a pro giving the Falcons a 1-0 lead at 18:02 of the first period. MacLeod signed an ATO contract on Monday, had his first practice with the Falcons on Tuesday and made his AHL debut on Wednesday. MacLeod recently finished his collegiate career with Northeastern University.

Dainton, who signed an ATO contract Monday, was impressive making his first AHL/Pro start Wednesday night. Dainton recently completed his college career at UMass-Amherst.

In the second period, the Falcons built a 2-0 lead at 8:59 when Cody Goloubef tallied his fifth goal of the year assisted by Tomas Kubalik and Trevor Smith. Connecticut cut their deficit to 2-1 when Derek Couture scored his second marker of the year at 11:52 of the second period.

In the third period, Connecticut started the frame with a power play and Dale Weise took advantage as he tied the score at 2-2 with a power play marker just 54-seconds into the final period. With the game deadlocked midway through the third period, John Mitchell converted at 11:17 giving the Whale their first lead of the night at 3-2. The goal marked the second time this month that Mitchell tallied a late third period goal against the Falcons leading Connecticut to victory.

Here’s the story from the Northeastern Huskies website about Wade signing with Springfield:

Boston, Mass. – March 21, 2011

Northeastern men’s hockey alum Wade MacLeod signed an amateur tryout agreement with the Springfield Falcons as announced by the club on Monday afternoon, March 21.

Springfield is an American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets.

MacLeod leaves Northeastern as the most battle-tested Husky, skating in 149 career games, marking the most of any skater in program history.

“It’s amazing how quickly the last four years have gone by,” MacLeod said. “I could not have excelled and made it to the next level without the help of my coaching staff and teammates.”

The Coquitlam, B.C., native led the Huskies in scoring for the last three seasons and posted career-highs in his senior go-round in goals (22), assists (23) and points (45).

For his career, MacLeod tallied 61 goals and 76 assists for 137 points in 149 games played. MacLeod’s 61 goals tied NU assistant coach Sebastien Laplante’s total for 21st-best in Northeastern history. The 5-11 forward’s 76 helpers are also tied for 21st most of all-time, drawing even with David O’Brien (76).

MacLeod leaves Huntington Avenue tied as the 20th-most prolific scorer in program history (137 points), tying Gerry Cowie (1978-82) and Paul McDougall (1978-82).

MacLeod attained 35 career multi-point games, including 11 this season. He finished as a +8 for his career and netted 12 game-winning goals along the way.

MacLeod was named a Hockey East Second-Team All-Star on March 17 at the annual league banquet in Cambridge, Mass.

It sounds like former Centennials defenceman Steve Munn is preparing to hang up the skates at the end of the 2010-11 season.

Here’s an article from The Star newspaper’s website in Sheffield, England:

STEVE MUNN has delivered a two-goal ‘goodbye’ to Sheffield Steelers fans.

The defenceman scored a unique double for the champions, as they confirmed the title in Sunday’s 7-2 win over Braehead Clan. Munn, the darling of thousands of Steelers fans, dedicated the goals to the supporters as he intends to retire at the end of the Play Offs, which start tonight (Dundee Stars, home, 7.30pm.)

“I haven’t scored two goals since I was about nine years old” laughed Munn.

“I have a lot of clubs in my bag that I don’t really bring out very often. I have a lot of tricks – a secret weapon, you know!

Munn, 32, said the last team for which he bagged a brace was probably ‘Esso Blues’ (a junior side sponsored by a petrol station in Saskatchewan, Canada.) “We had nine skaters, that’s three D, six forwards and a goalie! That’s probably the last time I scored two goals in a game.

“But this (title) is pretty special. This is probably it for me, this year. To win another championship, especially the big one here, in a place where my family really has been the happiest we’ve ever been, is really special.

“We are terribly sad to be leaving in a couple of weeks. To win it again, and go out on that note, especially with this group of people is just amazing. I have so many good friends here not just on the team but throughout the city. Sheffield will always be a special place for us.”

Munn said he had a few commercial “irons in the fire.”

“I am aggressively pursuing alternative employment. Nothing is impossible, I would never say never to coming back here. At the end of the day we are so happy here.

“It’s killing my wife to have to leave. And killing me. But I have a couple of degrees burning a hole in my pocket. I have got some pretty big ideas and ambitions for life after hockey. If things don’t pan out you might see me back here in August.

“I hope people in Sheffield have enjoyed me being here as much as I have enjoyed being here. That’s all I can hope for.”

Steelers won the title courtesy of having more regulation time wins than second-place Cardiff Devils, who had the same number of points as Ben Simon’s side. Belfast Giants came third, a point behind.

Former Cents Coach & GM Mike Vandekamp leaves Grande Prairie to join Nanaimo:

Former Cents coach & GM Mike Vandekamp is back in the BCHL with the Nanaimo Clippers.

Here’s the story from the Grande Prairie Tribune after a media conference this morning:

Vandekamp out, Bablitz in
By RAGNAR HAAGEN, Herald-Tribune staff

The Grande Prairie Storm Junior A hockey team is getting a makeover.

No, it won’t be the uniforms, and the players on the ice won’t change any more than previous years.

The difference is behind the bench.

Mike Vandekamp is heading for greener pastures: Literally.

Vandekamp has told the Daily Herald-Tribune that he is leaving Grande Prairie and the snow behind, to accept an offer from B.C.’s Nanaimo Clippers to become their new head coach and general manager.

“I have a childhood friend that now owns the Nanaimo Clippers and he and his partners have decided to make a change in the position of head coach and general manager there,” explained Vandekamp.

“We talked, and as a family, we decided that it was a move that we wanted to make.”

This decision was not long in the making; in fact Vandekamp said that it all happened in less than a week.

“It’s pretty fresh,” noted Vandekamp. “Basically, this past week has been very busy in regards to (the decision to move).”

Vandekamp has also said that he is leaving on amicable terms with the Storm and their management, and had nothing but good things to say about the organization.

“It’s been an absolutely terrific opportunity right from day one,” said Vandekamp. “By far, this has been the most well run, organized, most professional organization that I’ve been a part of.

“A very small amount of this has been a professional decision; it’s been a lot more of a family decision. My wife is a southern British Columbia person and when some of this came about, it was certainly partially driven from home. It’s just a lot closer to her family from a geographical standpoint.”

Taking his place behind the bench of the Grande Prairie Storm will be a person familiar to anyone who has followed Storm hockey over the years. Former player, and current assistant coach Blaine Bablitz will take over the head coaching duties starting today.

Bablitz played two seasons with the Storm from 1997-99 and was chosen AJHL Rookie of the Year in his first season. He scored 156 points in his two years with the team and still sits 11th in career points with the franchise.

In 2007, he was hired as the first ever full-time assistant coach with the Storm by Vandekamp. During their four seasons together they put together the best winning percentage of any group of coaches in the team’s history. In 242 regular-season games the pair had a .674 win percentage and also won 27 of 45 playoff games in four seasons.

They helped the Storm to the 2008-2009 AJHL championship and finished second in the North Division three times during their coaching partnership.

“I’m very thankful and extremely excited about the opportunity that the organization is offering me,” said Bablitz. “They’ve come to terms with giving me the chance to prove myself in this position, and I look to continue the success of the team on the ice and within the community of Grande Prairie.

“Not only are we here to be a competitive and successful team, but we’re here to be a part of the community and do our best to affect the youth in it and be a positive influence on everyone in the town.”

Bablitz will have his work cut out for him, as the Storm will lose last year’s leading scorer and reigning AJHL Player of the Year, Tanner Fritz. However, Bablitz has already given thought to what sort of team he hopes to build.

“Our team will be hard working and aggressive and puck pursuit-orientated, which is not too far away from the lines of the team we’ve been in the past,” said Bablitz.

“It will be organized and technically sound. Hard work will be the main focus, (because) that’s the key to junior level hockey.”

The team officially introduced Bablitz as the new head coach at a press conference this morning at the Crystal Centre.

Canucks Alumni Beat Conservation Officers 8-5, Cents Extend Spring Camp Registration Deadline:

I had the honour and privilege of working with Canucks P.A. announcer John Ashbridge here in Merritt during Saturday’s game between the Vancouver Canucks Alumni and the Society of BC Conservation Officers.

Cents coach and GM Luke Pierce acquitted himself quite well for the Conservation Officers, notching an assist in an 8-5 loss. Former Cents assistant coach and current coach of the Merritt Midgets Joe Quewezance also looked good, wearing number 89. Both Luke and Joe actually played defence most of the game although it’s hard to say anyone really “played” defence.

Here’s the summary John Ashbridge did for the Canucks Alumni website:

CANUCK ALUMNI WIND UP ANOTHER UNDEFEATED SEASON WITH ROAD WIN IN MERRITT

The local boy came home to collect three points on the night, as the Vancouver Canuck Alumni collected the “W”, defeating the B.C. Conservation Officers province-wide squad, 8-5 in Merritt last Saturday night (March 12th), capping off another undefeated season for the veteran squad.

Mike Brown, who grew up in the Nicola Valley and played his junior hockey with the Merritt Centennials, scored once and set up two more in a close contest with the well-trained Conservation crew before a crowd of several hundred at The Nicola Valley Memorial Arena. It’s the third time in five years these two teams have met, with the Alumni taking both prior encounters, in 100 Mile House and Smithers. It’s more than just a game for the Conservation officers; it’s a chance for them to draw a team from among hockey-playing members serving in all corners of the province, some of them seeing their professional colleagues face-to-face for one of the rare times each year. And they’ve always iced a solid team and put on a good show, something for which the Alumni – and the fans – are truly grateful.

For this contest, the opponents were bolstered by Merritt hockey stalwarts Joe Quewezance and the coach of the Centennials, Luke “The Legend” Pierce. They even held a get-together practice the day before the game … alas, to no avail. Backstopped mainly by Ken “Beach Ball” Owens in net, the CO’s kept the score close until the third period when the hosts found they simply didn’t have the legs for the final 20 minutes and the Alumni pulled away from a 3-3 tie to collect the two points.

Alumnus Dusty Imoo outskated almost everyone as he netted one and helped on two more while B.J. MacDonald, working as Brownie’s winger, also scored once and set up a pair. For the second game in a row, veteran d-man Doug Bodger was in the lineup, joined by fellow Islander Gary “Bones” Bromley. And, true to form, Wayne Van Dorp claimed victory at the pre-game buffet, downing two (2) plates of lasagna before embarking on his usual pre-game whine about the lack of dessert choices.

There was a lot of BCHL representation in the Canucks line-up. Here’s who played in the green and blue:

30 – Mark Lake
3 – Doug Bodger
4 – Phil Von Stefenelli
6 – Dusty Imoo
14 – B.J. MacDonald
15 – Gary Bromley
16 – Sean Crowther
18 – Steve Clippingdale
21 – Rick Amann
23 – Wayne Van Dorp
25 – David Bruce
27 – Mike Brown

Referee: Stan Vyse
Linesman: Chris Oddleifson
Linesman: Doug Hardy

Meanwhile, the Centennials have extended the deadline for registration for their Spring Evaluation Camp here in Merritt. Here’s the release from their website:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Merritt, BC – March 16, 2011

The Merritt Centennials announced today that the deadline for registration for their 2011 Spring Evaluation Camp in Merritt on April 1-3 has been extended from March 15th to March 31st. Sign-in is from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, April 1, 2011 at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.

“We’ve had a great response from some very good players for the Camp so far,” said Cents Head Coach and GM Luke Pierce. “But we decided to extend the deadline because didn’t want to exclude any prospective players who were unable, for whatever reason, to register before March 15th.”

The cost of the camp is $150.

For complete details, please visit www.merrittcentennials.com and click on “2011 Spring Camps”.

Canucks Alumni Coming to Merritt for Charity Game:

I’m so excited for tomorrow night’s game at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena between the Society of BC Conservation Officers and the Canucks Alumni Team.

I’m honoured to have the opportunity to work with legendary Canucks P.A. announcer John Ashbridge, who travels with the alumni team when he can to be part of their events.

Also I’m excited to see Cents coach & GM Luke Pierce on the ice at Memorial Arena for the first time since the 2003-04 season, when he was playing for the Vernon Vipers. Luke’s playing for the Conservation Officers and is sure to bring some speed and toughness to their line-up. Former Cents assistant coach and the current coach of the Merritt Midget Reps, Joe Quewezance was set to play for the Conservation Officers too, but word is that Joe has a bad back and may be relegated to coaching.

Here’s the release from the Conservation Office in Kamloops:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Kamloops, BC – March 11, 2011

Vancouver Canucks Alumni Hockey Team vs the Society of BC Conservation Officers – Nicola Valley Memorial Arena, March 12, 2011.

On March 12th 2011, the Vancouver Canucks Alumni Hockey team will travel to Merritt to play in a charity hockey game against members of the BC Conservation Officer Service.

The goal of the game is to raise funds to support families who require financial support to get their children into organized sports. All proceed from the game will be donated to the MERRITT YOUTH & FAMILY RESOURCES SOCIETY to be managed through the Canadian Tire Jumpstart program, a community based program which aids youth in gaining access to organized sports. All the money raised in Merritt will stay in Merritt.

The Alumni Team and the Conservation Officer team have played two previous games, 100 Mile House and Smithers and have raised nearly $10,0000 for local charities. The games are fun, exciting and showcase the skill level that the Alumni team members, all retired NHL players, still maintain.

The Conservation Officer Team is made up of officers from all over BC who travel on their own time and at their own expense to play in the game to support as many children as possible having access to the benefits of organized sports of any type.

The game starts at 7pm on Saturday March 12th.

Tickets are available in Merritt at Canadian Tire, Home Hardware, Murray GMC and at the Merritt Herald office for $15. VIP packages are available for $200 which includes two game tickets and 2 tickets for the dinner with the teams after the game.

So far financial support for the game has been received from ROCK Construction & Mining, Fountain Tire, Kal Tire, JS Reimer Trucking, Nicola Motor Sports, The Douglas Lake Ranch and Inland Kenworth.

For more information on the game please contact Sgt. Steve Wasylik @ 250-318-5010.