Month: September 2011

Merritt Centennials-Sherwood Park Crusaders Trade:

The Merritt Centennials have made their first trade of the season, sending veteran F Steve Wall (91) to the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders for future considerations.

The move leaves a hole in the Cents line-up as they’re now down to just 20 players, meaning there’s room to add one more without making any subtractions. It makes me think that Luke Pierce is set to sign either a player from junior ‘B’ or BC Major Midget League, or there’s another transaction to come.

The deal also means that the Cents are down a “letter” in their locker room as Wall was just starting his second season as an assistant captain.

Meantime, here’s the deets on this move:

To Sherwood Park Crusaders:
F Steve Wall (91)
To Merritt Centennials:
Future Considerations

Here’s the release from the Cents website:


Merritt, BC – September 29, 2011

Merritt Centennials Head Coach and GM Luke Pierce announced today that the team struck a deal with Sherwood Park of the Alberta Junior Hockey League which sent forward Steve Wall (91) to the Crusaders for future consideratons.

“On behalf of the entire Centennials organization, I’d like to thank Steve for his effort in Merritt for the last three years,” said Pierce. “I certainly wish him the best in Sherwood Park and the rest of his hockey career.”

Wall, 20, was into his second season as an assistant captain with the Cents. Since being acquired from the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints in June 2009, he’s played 112 games in Merritt, posting 16 goals and 23 assists and 73 penalty minutes. The St. Albert, AB has spent time with the St. Albert Steel (AJHL) during his career.

Cents Add Six Affiliate Players to 2011-12 Roster:

The Centennials have signed six players as AP’s for the 2011-12 season.

With the new 21-man roster, it’s very important for all BCHL teams to have a strong reserve roster that they can pull from and rely on to fill gaps when players are injured, suspended, healthy scratched, etc.

Three of the players the Cents have added are playing with the Princeton Posse, one is with the Osoyoos Coyotes, one is with the Kelowna Chiefs and the other is with the Chase Heat.

D Curtis Bellamy (94)
D Braeden Hikichi (92)
F Jaden Janzen (93)
F Scott Patterson (93)
G Russell Sanderson (94)
F Eric Schmidt (93)

Game Four: Centennials vs. Trail Preview:

Merritt (1-1-1-0) vs. Trail (0-2-1-0)

Tonight is the second of eight meetings between the Merritt Centennials and Trail.

It’s the Centennials 39th home opener in the history of the franchise. The taligate party in the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena parking lot starts at 6 pm with games, food, music and more!

For the Smoke Eaters, it’s their first road game of the 2011-12 season.

The game is available with Cents PBP announcer Alex Grebenyuk on Q101 in Merritt at 101.1 FM in the Nicola Valley. You can also tune in at or on the BCHL Fanzone at

Last Game Played:
Wednesday, September 28: Merritt tied Trail 3-3 at the Cominco Arena
Wednesday, September 28: Trail tied Merritt 3-3 at the Cominco Arena

Next Games:
Saturday, October 1: Merritt vs. Westside
Saturday, October 1: Trail @ Penticton

Let’s take a look at the Merritt Centennials:

Games Played: 3
Wins: 1
Losses: 1
Ties: 1
Overtime Losses: 0
Home Record: 0-0-0-0
Road Record: 1-1-1-0
Streak: Two game unbeaten streak
Last Ten Games: 1-1-1-0
Goals For: 10
Goals Against: 12
Standings: 3rd place Interior Conference
Power Play (Overall): 1/12 (8.33%) – T-12th in BCHL
Power Play (Home): 0/0 (0%) – T-13th in BCHL
Power Play (Away): 1/12 (8.33%) – 6th in BCHL
Penalty Kill (Overall): 11/12 (91.67%) – 5th in BCHL
Penalty Kill (Home): 0/0 (0%) – T-13th in BCHL
Penalty Kill (Away): 11/12 (91.67%) – 4th in BCHL

Since the 2003-04 season, Merritt is 24-24-2-2 overall vs. the Smoke Eaters

Since the 2003-04 season Merritt is 15-9-0-2 at home vs. Trail

Since the 2003-04 season Merritt is 9-15-2-0 in Trail

Merritt is 4-5-1-0 in its last 10 visits to the Cominco Arena

Merritt is 6-4-0-0 in its last 10 home games vs. Trail

Merritt’s last win over Trail in Merritt was a 4-2 victory back on Saturday, February 19, 2011 to close out the 2010-11 regular season.

Merritt Centennials at 9:33 – Jeff Jones from Regan Soquila and Chad Brears
Trail Smoke Eaters at 5:59 (PP) – Logan Proulx from Nic DeSousa and Cullen Bradshaw
Merritt Centennials at 16:29 – Max Vallis from Blaine Bokenfohr and Kameran Crawford
Merritt Centennials at 9:43 – Jakob Reichert from Chad Brears and Stephen Wall
Trail Smoke Eaters at 7:51 – Jordan Bauer from Adam Boytinck and Curtis Tonello
Merritt Centennials at 4:34 – Jeff Jones from Max Vallis and Sean Maktaak
No Scoring

Former Centennials on the Smoke Eaters:
None (but F Brent Baltus (92) and F Matt Bissett (94) have both unsuccessfully tried out for the Cents in past years)
Trail Head Coach/GM Bill Birks is a former Merritt player and Assistant Coach, as is Smokies Assistant Coach Bob Dever

Average Age: 18.55 years
Average Ht: 5’11.5″
Average Wt: 176.8 lbs.

Centennials home record vs. Trail this season: 0-0
Centennials road record vs. Trail last season: 0-0-1-0

Merritt Centennials Returning Players:

Chad Brears (91)
Lino Chimienti (91)
Brent Fletcher (92)
Silvan Harper (92)
Dustin Lebrun (92)
Sean Maktaak (92)
Billy Marshall (91)
Brandon Pfeil (92)
Jakob Reichert (93)
Richard Sabourin (92)
Regan Soquila (93)
Evan Stack (91)
Tyler Steel (93)
Steve Wall (91)
Reece Willcox (94)

Merritt Centennials departed & traded players from last year’s team:

Jeff Jones (91)
Max Vallis (91)
Steve Tresierra (90)
David Sabey (91)
Blaine Bokenfohr (90)
Kameran Crawford (91)
J-P Witkop (90)
Dylan Playfair (92)
Brett Kolins (92 – didn’t report to Merritt after being acquired from Victoria)

Let’s take a look at the Trail Smoke Eaters:

Games Played: 3
Wins: 0
Losses: 2
Ties: 1
Overtime Losses: 0
Home Record: 0-2-1-0
Road Record: 0-0-0-0
Streak: Three game winless streak
Last Ten Games: 0-2-1-0
Goals For: 7
Goals Against: 15
Standings: 8th place Interior Conference
Power Play (Overall): 2/14 (14.29%) – 9th in BCHL
Power Play (Home): 2/14 (14.29%) – 7th in BCHL
Power Play (Away): 0/0 (0%) – T-12th in BCHL
Penalty Kill (Overall): 4/9 (44.44%) – 16th in BCHL
Penalty Kill (Home): 4/9 (44.44%) – 10th in BCHL
Penalty Kill (Away): 0/0 (0%) – T-13th in BCHL

Former Smoke Eaters on the Centennials:

Average Age: 18.26 years
Average Ht: 5’11.4″
Average Wt: 173.79 lbs.

Smoke Eaters home record vs. Merritt this season: 0-0-1-0
Smoke Eaters road record vs. Merritt this season: 0-0-0-0

Trail Smoke Eaters Returning Players:

Adam Boytinck (92)
Erik Cooper (91)
Matt Larose (92)
Clayton McEwan (91)
Logan Proulx (91)
Rajan Sidhu (91)

Trail Smoke Eaters departed & traded players from last year’s team:

Jake Baker (91)
Joey Baker (93)
Jordan Bauer (91)
Beau Blanaru (92)
Cullen Bradshaw (90)
Nic DeSousa (90)
Ryan Dixon (94)
Scott Jacklin (90)
Ryan Luiten (92)
Paul Mailey (90)
Ben Matthews (92)
Sam Mellor (92)
Travis St. Denis (92)
Kiefer Smiley (90)
Dylan Tappe (92)
Curtis Tonello (90)
Eric Walker (93)

Victoria Grizzlies-Okotoks Oilers Trade:

The shake-up on the Victoria Grizzlies continues as according to the Victoria Times-Colonist, they’ve traded F Chase Paylor (92) to the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers for future considerations.

To Okotoks Oilers:
F Chase Paylor (92)
To Victoria Grizzlies:
Future Considerations

Here’s a link to the Times-Colonist story: Struggling Grizzlies Shake Things Up

Cents Start on Bittersweet Note:

This is posted on the Merritt News website:

September 29, 2011

Robin Poon – News Reporter

The Merritt Centennials started off the regular season on a bittersweet note, bowing to the Prince George Spruce Kings 6-3 Friday before recovering Saturday for a 4-3 win.

At the Prince George Coliseum Friday, the Spruce Kings jumped to a two-goal lead by the end of the first period and adding another at the top of the second, leaving the goal-less Cents scrambling to catch up.

Newly minted Cents captain Evan Stack proved his worth twice that evening, breaking the streak in a power play just after the game’s halfway mark, at 10:23 in the second period. He scored once more in the losing effort during the third period.

In between, Chad Brears added one other goal late in the second period.

However, the Spruce Kings easily maintained their initial lead for the rest of the game.

While Stack’s goal in the third period brought the score to 4-3 and nearly closed the gap, the Spruce Kings added two more goals before the game’s end, resulting in a 6-3 victory for the home team.

The Spruce Kings also outshot the Cents 33-17.

Billy Marshall, Silvan Harper, Regan Soquila, Richard Sabourin, and Brandon Pfeil, all returning Centennials, each added an assist.

Centennial Lino Chimienti tended goal throughout the game, making 27 saves.

The Spruce Kings again made the first mark on the scoreboard Saturday but the Centennials were much quicker to respond.

After Jujhar Khaira added the first goal for Prince George at 8:48 in the first period, Centennial Payton Schaefer tied him at 14:48.

Schaefer was born and raised in Merritt. Although he played several games (and scored) for the Cents as an affiliate, Saturday’s goal was his first as a full British Columbia Hockey League player.

Leo Fitzgerald added another Spruce Kings goal at the end of the first period.

However, Pfeil and Stephen Wall added two more for the Cents in the second period.

Fitzgerald managed to tie the score with a second goal in the third, but Soquila responded less than two-and-a-half minutes later.

Soquila also racked up an assist, as did Marshall, Stack, and fellow vets Brent Fletcher and Dustin Lebrun. New team members Brandon Bruce, Dylan Chanter, Brandon Bruce, and Brendan Lamont had an assist each as well.

Tyler Steel kept the pucks at bay Saturday, blocking 35 Spruce Kings shots.

The Centennials faced the Trail Smoke Eaters Wednesday evening. The results of that game were not available as of press time.

The team’s home opener is 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena, again playing against the Smoke Eaters. They face the Westside Warriors 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Cents Home Opener This Friday night vs. Trail:

This is posted on the Merritt Herald website:

By Ian Webster – Merritt Herald
Published: September 29, 2011 12:00 PM

Merritt Centennials​’ fans will finally get to see their BCHL team in its entirety this weekend, as the Cents play their first two games of the 2011-12 regular season on home ice.

Friday night, the Centennials host the Trail Smoke Eaters in the back half of a home-and-home two-game series that saw Merritt visit the Kootenay city on Wednesday of this week. The score of that game was unavailable at press time.

Saturday, it’s the Westside Warriors​ who roll into town for the second meeting between the two teams this year. The Cents edged the Warriors 2 – 1 in exhibition play back on September 3rd.

Last weekend, the Centennials opened their 2011-12 campaign with a split of games played against the Prince George Spruce Kings in the northern B.C. community.

On Friday night, the Cents displayed some first night jitters in a 6-3 loss to the Spruce Kings. The team managed to settle itself down overnight, and rebounded with a 4-3 victory over the Sprucies just 24 hours later.

“I thought that Friday’s game was a bit of a coin toss,” stated Cents’ head coach and GM Luke Pierce following his team’s return to Merritt from PG in the wee hours of Sunday morning. “Both teams made lots of mistakes. Whoever got the breaks was going to win. We probably had just as many scoring chances as they did, but just weren’t able to capitalize.”

Merritt fell behind quickly on Friday night, giving up three goals in just over 21 minutes of hockey. Evan Stack got the Cents on the board at 10:23 of the second period with a power play tally, but the Spruce Kings replied less than three minutes later with a man advantage marker of their own.

A late second period goal by Chad Brears, and Stack’s second of the night at 4:41 of the third gave the Cents life, but two late goals by PG’s Gerry Fitzgerald snuffed out any hopes of a Merritt comeback.

Fitzgerald, along with brothers Leo and Myles, feasted on the Centennials all weekend long. Between them, they garnered five goals and five assists for a total of 10 points in the two outings.

“Those three, I’ll give them a lot of credit,” said Pierce of the diminutive but talented Fitzgerald triplets who were traded to Prince George in the off-season by the Nanaimo Clippers. “They’ve had a lot of people doubt them, but their compete level is tremendous. They have a lot of speed and a lot of skill.”

Pierce was much more pleased with his team’s effort and execution in the second half of last weekend’s doubleheader.

“It was nice that we were able to make some adjustments and be that much better on Saturday,” he stated. “We put a lot of focus on putting the game on Friday behind us, and making sure that we didn’t lose back-to-back [games].”

While the Spruce Kings again got the first goal of the game on Saturday, the Cents were able to reply just a few minutes later, as Merritt’s own Payton Schaefer registered his first BCHL goal at 14:48 of the first period.

For the second night in a row, the Centennials gave up a goal in the final minute of the first period to fall behind 2-1 at the intermission.

Merritt’s Brandon Pfeil tied things up at 6:02 of the second with one of his trademark goals off a point shot from the right side. Stephen Wall then put the Centennials back in front at the 12:20 mark. The 3-2 lead held up until the midpoint of the final frame when a Fitzgerald again, this time Leo, evened things on the scoreboard with a pretty goal off a three-way passing play with his brothers.

Merritt’s top line of Stack, Regan Soquila and Brandon Bruce answered back just over two minutes later, with Soquila burying the eventual game winner behind Sprucies’ netminder Kirk Thompson.

Both Stack and Soquila had three-point weekends. Equally as impressive, no fewer than 14 Centennials garnered at least one point in the team’s opening two games. In net, Tyler Steel was the game two winner between the pipes, stopping 35 of 38 shots on the night, including 21 by the Spruce Kings in the third period.

Former Centennials Forward Casey Pierro-Zabotel Traded from Wheeling to Bakersfield:

Former Centennials captain Casey Pierro-Zabotel has been traded in the East Coast Hockey League from the Wheeling Nailers to the Bakersfield Condors for future considerations.
Here’s the release from the ECHL website:

Condors acquire Pierro-Zabotel

September 29, 2011

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – The Bakersfield Condors announced today that the team has acquired the rights to forward Casey Pierro-Zabotel from the Wheeling Nailers in exchange for future considerations. Pierro-Zabotel is under contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

A native of Ashcroft, British Columbia, Pierro-Zabotel was a third-round selection (80th overal) of the Penguins in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. In 2009-10, he began his professional career with the Nailers, recording 41 points (12g-29a) in 49 games. He earned a mid-season recall to the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins that season and appeared in nine games with one assist.

Last season, he recorded 14 goals and 20 assists for 34 points in 42 games played with Wheeling before being loaned to Cincinnati. With the Cyclones, Pierro-Zabotel tallied four goals and 16 assists for 20 points in 25 games to close out the season. His totals at the ECHL level include 116 games played, 30 goals and 65 assists for 95 points.

Pierro-Zabotel enjoyed a highly successful two-year stint in the WHL with the Vancouver Giants. He set franchise single-season highs in assists (79) and points (115), en route to receiving the Bob Clarke Trophy as the WHL’s leading scorer in 2008-09. Prior to his time in Vancouver, the 22-year-old forward began his junior career in the BCHL with the Merritt Centennials. In 2006-07, he recorded 116 points in 55 games played which led to his draft selection after the season’s conclusion.