Cents Training Camp Begins this Sunday:

This was in yesterday’s Merritt Herald and I think it’s interesting to note the recruited players mention by name in the article.

Here’s the line on the guys mentioned…

F Trevor Forward (94)
D Ross Mancuso (92)
D Owen Solecki (94)
F Payton Schaefer (93)
F Eric Schmidt (93)
(Elite Prospects has Eric confused with F Eric Schmit (92), who’s from Strathmore, AB and played with Puget Sound. Eric Schmidt played Merritt Minor Hockey last season)
F Brendan Colter (93)

Cents’ training camp begins this Sunday
By Ian Webster – Merritt Herald

“We’re excited, for sure.”

Those were the succinct words of head coach and GM Luke Pierce on the eve of the Merritt Centennials​’ fall training camp, slated to get underway this Sunday with an orientation session at 1 p.m., followed by fitness testing from 3 – 5:45 p.m.

This year’s five-day camp will look and feel very different from the past few seasons. Gone are the 100+ players in attendance, and endless rounds of scrimmages. Instead, just 40-45 invitees are expected to report to the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena on Sunday, including a record 18 returnees from the last season’s 2010-11 BCHL campaign.

The camp schedule features just two full-blown intersquad games, on Monday and Wednesday nights, surrounded by many more practise times, meetings and player interviews.

“It’s a completely different feeling from last year at this time,” says Pierce, “where there was a lot of uncertainty. This time around, we have a big group of returning players, combined with a good group of youngsters. By keeping it small, the hope is that the guys will bond a lot quicker. And we’re going to get to work right away on establishing our culture, our identity.”

Competition at camp is expected to be fierce as veterans and rookies battle for the 21 coveted positions on the local Junior A team. That number is two lower than in past BCHL seasons, and was just one of several significant changes implemented by the league during a busy off-season.

New faces to this year’s training camp will be from far and wide. They include Trevor Forward from Newfoundland, Rob Mancuso from Texas, and Owen Solecki out of Burn’s Lake in north-central B.C.

Somewhat more familiar local hockey products invited to the Cents’ camp are Payton Schaefer, Eric Schmidt, Brendan Colter and possibly Justin Sulz and Russell Sanderson.

Pierce, along with newly-hired assistant coach and assistant GM Joe Martin, will waste little time paring the numbers down as training camp progresses.

“I anticipate trimming training camp down to 30 [players] by Thursday,” explains Pierce, “and then down to 24-5 following our first two exhibition games against Prince George and Westside. By the last weekend of exhibition play, I’d like to see us be at 21-2. We want to use those final exhibition games to really prepare for our season, and not really to make a bunch of last minute decisions.”

Pierce states that a strong start to the regular season is one of his clear goals for this year’s Centennials’ team. “It’s something we haven’t been able to achieve in the past.”

The Cents’ bench boss feels that getting out of the gate fast is going to be crucial if his team is going to achieve his other stated objectives – to remain in the mix at the top of the BCHL’s Interior Division and to make the play-offs.

The latter goal became all that much more of a challenge when the league declared during the summer that only the top four teams in each of the divisions would proceed to the post-season.

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