Cents Promote Martin to GM/Coach, Harbinson Turns Down U of Wisconsin Job, Campese Back Coaching, Anderson Commits to UNH, Kawaguchi Commits to Providence:

It didn’t take long for the Merritt Centennials to find a replacement for GM and Head Coach Luke Pierce after he was hired as Head Coach of the WHL’s Kootenay Ice on Tuesday. Joe Martin, who was Cents Assistant GM and Assistant Coach, has been promoted to the main job, signing a three year contract through 2017-18. Martin has been with Merritt since May 2011 and spent four seasons beside Pierce on the Cents’ bench. Prior to joining the Centennials, he was GM and Head Coach of the Creston Valley Thundercats of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. Martin got his coaching start behind the bench of the Whitehorse Midget A team in 2003. With his promotion, the Centennials are now looking for fill the role of Assistant Coach.

Penticton President, GM and Head Coach Fred Harbinson has turned down an Assistant Coach position at the University of Wisconsin to stay with the Vees. According to Andy Baggot of the Wisconsin State Journal, Harbinson, who played and coached at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, had multiple conversations with Badgers Coach Mike Eaves and received a “very strong” offer. Ultimately though, he told Baggot he decided to stay in Penticton because “it’s better for me and my family to stay put.” Baggot’s article is here.

Rivermen forward Hunter Anderson is off to the University of Alabama-Huntsville this fall. Anderson, who was the first overall pick in the NAHL Entry Draft by the Janesville Jets, came to Langley instead and put up 30 points (11 goals, 19 assists) in 58 games in his first BCHL season. The Savage, MN product added six points (four goals, two assists) in six playoff games for the Rivermen.

Chilliwack forward Jordan Kawaguchi has committed to Providence College for September 2016. The 18-year-old from Abbotsford, BC had 56 points (28 goals, 28 assists) with the Chiefs this past season after putting up 18 points (nine goals, nine assists) in 49 games as a rookie in 2013-14. Kawaguchi was selected in the fourth round, 80th overall by Spokane in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft.

A pair of Seattle Thunderbirds who played briefly in the BCHL are invited to next weekend’s NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo. Forwards Ryan Gropp (Penticton, 2012-13) and Mathew Barzal (Coquitlam AP, 2012-13) were each a force in the WHL this season with the T-Birds. Gropp, who’s 18, had 58 points (30 goals, 28 assists) in 67 games with Seattle while the 18-year-old Barzal notched 57 points (12 goals, 45 assists) in 44 games. The complete list of players invited to the Combine is available here.

Former goaltender Bruno Campese (Penticton, 1979-81) is back coaching in BC after being announced as the Okanagan Hockey Academy Prep team’s new Head Coach. The 51-year-old was Head Coach of the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL from 2008-11 and then General Manager from 2011 until this past season. Campese also coached in the BCHL from 2000-02 with Trail and 2003-07 with Penticton.

Cents GM/Head Coach Pierce Moves Up to WHL, Brodzinski and Donohue Commit to Vees, PG Forward Leung Commits to Wilfrid Laurier:

The BCHL lost one of its best coaches on Tuesday with word that Luke Pierce is the new Head Coach of the WHL’s Kootenay Ice. Pierce, who signed a three-year contract with the Ice, leaves his hometown of Merritt, where he was GM and Head Coach of the Centennials for the last six seasons. The 31-year-old was hired in the summer of 2009 as an assistant coach for the Cents, but the society that runs the club decided to hands over the reins to Pierce on November 25th of that year after losing 20 of its first 28 games under the guidance of  Dylan and Tyler Forsythe. Since then, he’s coached Merritt to a 170-129-10-21 record and six straight playoff appearances. He also was named BCHL Interior Conference Coach of the Year in 2012-13. 

Where Pierce’s resignation leaves Assistant GM and Assistant Coach Joe Martin is anyone’s guess. You’ve got to think that Martin’s in the mix to be promoted to GM and Head Coach. I caught up with Pierce on Tuesday afternoon, a few hours after news broke that he was leaving the team he grew up watching, played junior hockey for, and eventually through his direction, returned to respectability.

Penticton announced four recruits for the 2015-16 season on Tuesday. All four are American players and although I’ve already covered the commitment of 20-year-old defenseman Colton Poolman and 19-year-old forward Dixon Bowen, there are two others I’ve yet to mention. Among them is forward Easton Brodzinski. The 18-year-old played last season with the Blaine High School men’s hockey team, putting up 44 points (25 goals, 19 assists) in 25 games. In a three year career at Blaine, Brodzinski finished with 78 points (47 goals, 31 assists) in 82 games. He’s committed to St. Cloud State University for 2016-17.

The other player the Vees received a commitment from is 18-year-old defenseman Seamus Donohue. He’s played the last four seasons at St. Thomas Academy in Minnesota, tallying 76 points (nine goals, 67 assists) in 96 games. Donohue has also been a point-per-game player in the playoffs, with 15 points (three goals, 12 assists) in 15 games. He’s committed to attend the US Air Force Academy in September 2016.

Forward Jarryd Leung has committed to Wilfrid Laurier University of the CIS for 2015-16. The Victoria, BC native finished the season with Prince George after being acquired from Powell River. In 14 games with the Kings, the 20-year-old notched 10 points (five goals, five assists) and in 30 games with the Spruce Kings, Leung added 29 points (six goals, 23 assists). He’s a veteran of 193 career BCHL games and the eighth member of last season’s Prince George roster to commit to post-secondary school and college hockey.

Merritt Centennials – Graduating Players & Eligible Returnees:

Graduating Players
Jake Clifford (Arizona State University)
Diego Cuglietta (Lake Superior State University)
Shane Poulsen (aged out)
John Schiavo (aged out)
Sam Johnson (aged out)
Griffyn Martin (aged out)
Jonah Imoo (aged out)
Eligible Returnees
(* indicates an open spot – assuming the team goes with 13 forwards and 7 defensemen)


Zak Bowles (95)
James Neil (95)
Devin Oakes (95)
Gavin Gould (96)
Stephan Seeger (96)
Cole Chorney (96)
Michael Ederer (96)
Nick Fidanza (96)
Rhett Willcox (96)
Colin Grannary (97)
Brandon Duhaime (97)


Josh Teves (95)
Matt Foley (95)
Malik Kaila (96)
Cole Arcuri (96)
Tyrell Buckley (97)


Anthony Pupplo (95)

Canada West World Junior A Challenge Coaching Staff Has Distinct BCHL Flavour:

Hockey Canada and the Canadian Junior Hockey League jointly announced the coaching staff today for the 2014 World Junior A Challenge from December 14 – 20 in Kindersley, Saskatchewan.

Although Trent Cassan, a coach from the SJHL was named as the Head Coach for Canada West, there is a distinct BCHL flavour to Cassan’s assistants.

Merritt Centennials GM and Head Coach Luke Pierce along with Vernon Vipers GM and Head Coach Jason Williamson were both named assistants. Tim Fragle, who is the GM and Head Coach of the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Spruce Grove Saints, is a former BCHL player, having skated for the Trail Smoke Eaters from 1998 to 2000 before joining Merritt for eight games in the latter part of the 1999-00 season.

Of course, in addition to the managerial roles they each have now, Pierce and Williamson are both former BCHL players. Williamson played three seasons for the Vipers from 1999 to 2002 and Pierce spent two seasons as a Centennial from 2001 to 2003 before joining Vernon for his 20-year-old season of 2003-04.

Canada West hasn’t won gold at the WJAC since 2011, but has claimed a medal at every tournament since its inception in 2006. Canada West won the bronze last year.

Here’s the release from the CJHL regarding today’s announcement:

The Canadian Junior Hockey League, in partnership with Hockey Canada, announced today that Trent Cassan, head coach and general manager of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Yorkton Terriers, will be the head coach of Canada West at the 2014 World Junior A Challenge, scheduled for Dec. 14-20 in Kindersley, Sask.

Cassan will be joined by assistant coaches Tim Fragle (head coach and general manager, Sherwood Park Crusaders, Alberta Junior Hockey League), Luke Pierce (head coach and general manager, Merritt Centennials, British Columbia Hockey League) and Jason Williamson (head coach and general manager, Vernon Vipers, British Columbia Hockey League).

“I am honoured and excited to be able to work with many of the top CJHL players from all over Western Canada,” said Cassan. “The World Junior A Challenge is a first-class event with premier players from all over the world. My experience at the 2013 event in Yarmouth, N.S., was a positive one, and I look forward to working with the staff and representing Canada West in Kindersley in December.”

Trent Cassan, 31, will make his second appearance with Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge, having won a bronze medal as an assistant coach in 2013. Cassan has been head coach and general manager in Yorkton for the past five seasons, leading the team to the SJHL championship and RBC Cup national championship last season. A Terriers alumnus (2002-04), Cassan was named SJHL Coach of the Year in 2012-13.

Tim Fragle, 34, will be an assistant coach with Canada West for the first time at the 2014 World Junior A Challenge.  Entering his fifth year as head coach and general manager in Sherwood Park, Fragle has 16 years of coaching and instructional experience.  He finished his CJHL playing career with the Crusaders, serving as captain in 2000-01.

Luke Pierce, 31, will make his first appearance with Canada West at the 2014 World Junior A Challenge. The head coach of Team West at the 2013 CJHL Prospects Games, Pierce has been the head coach and general manager of the Centennials for the past five seasons, guiding Merritt to the playoffs every year, and winning BCHL Interior Division Coach of the Year honours in 2012-13.

Jason Williamson, 33, will be an assistant coach with Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge for the first time. He has been the head coach and general manager in Vernon for the past four years, and was an assistant coach for three years prior to that. Williamson has made four trips to the RBC Cup, Canada’s National Junior A Championship, winning the national title with the Vipers in 2009 and 2010, and finishing as runner-up in 2011. He played three seasons in Vernon (1999-2002), making two trips to the BCHL final.

Canada West has appeared in six of the eight gold medal games at the World Junior A Challenge, winning gold in 2006 (Yorkton/Humboldt, Sask.), 2007 (Trail/Nelson, B.C.), and 2012 (Langley, B.C.). It also won silver in 2008 (Camrose, Alta.), 2009 (Summerside, P.E.I.), and 2012 (Yarmouth, N.S.), and won bronze in 2013 (Yarmouth, N.S.).  It finished fourth in 2010 (Penticton, B.C.).

For more information on the 2014 World Junior A Challenge, please visit http://www.hockeycanada.ca/wjac, or follow along through social media at http://www.facebook.com/wjrac and http://www.twitter.com/hc_wjac.

Logan Mick Joins Merritt from Vernon as Futures from Dylan Chanter Trade:

The Merritt Centennials announced today the future considerations they received from Vernon in the January 3rd trade which saw the Vipers acquire defenseman Dylan Chanter (95) for defenseman Jason Bird (93). Heading to the Nicola Valley is forward Logan Mick (96).

Mick, at 17, is already a veteran of 102 BCHL games, including playing all four games during the RBC Cup earlier this month. His dad Troy, who is the Head Coach and GM of the Salmon Arm SilverBacks, played in Merritt during the 1984-85 season.

With Mick gone to the Centennials, the Vipers only have goalie Danny Todosychuk (94), defensemen Ken Citron (94), Riley Guenther (95) and Michael Statchuk (94), along with forwards Matthew Saharchuk (95) and T.J. Dumonceaux (94) eligible to return for the 2014-15 season, and two of those players are reportedly going to Surrey as the future considerations from another trade.

To Merritt:
F Logan Mick (96)http://www.eliteprospects.com/iframe_player_stats.php?player=120792
D Jason Bird (93)http://www.eliteprospects.com/iframe_player_stats.php?player=62736
To Vernon:
D Dylan Chanter (95)http://www.eliteprospects.com/iframe_player_stats.php?player=123669
Here’s the release from the Centennials website:

The Merritt Centennials are pleased to announce the acquisition of forward Logan Mick (96) from the Vernon Vipers of the BCHL which completes the future considerations in a previous deal for defenceman Dylan Chanter (95).

Mick, 17, brings over 100 BCHL regular season games experience to the Centennials lineup, which doesn’t include 16 games of playoff experience and 4 games at the RBC Cup, which was held this May in Vernon.

“We are excited to add a player of Logan’s ability to our group. He gained tremendous experience this year in a long playoff run and playing at the RBC.” said Cents GM & Head Coach Luke Pierce. “He plays with a lot of energy and brings a skillset that I believe is ready to breakthrough.”

Logan is currently committed to Quinnipiac University for the 2015-16 season. His father, Troy, was a member of the Merritt Warriors in the 1984-85 season. 

For further information, please contact Cents Head Coach and GM Luke Pierce at 250-378-3607 or email luke@merrittcentennials.com

Merritt – Powell River Trade:

For the third time in 22 months, Merritt Centennials GM and Head Coach Luke Pierce hooked up with his counterpart in Powell River which sees Kent Lewis trade 18-year-old forward James Neil to the Nicola Valley for future considerations.

The Cents lost a significant amount of depth at forward due to graduating players and college commitments, and Neil likely gets a chance to step into a top six role with Merritt.

To Merritt Centennials:
F James Neil (95)http://www.eliteprospects.com/iframe_player_stats.php?player=101591To Powell River Kings:
Future Considerations

Here’s the release from the Cents:

The Merritt Centennials have completed a trade with the Powell River Kings of the BCHL Island Divison.

The Cents have acquired forward James Neil (95) from the Kings in exchange for future considerations.

The six foot Neil brings 2 years of BCHL experience. He had 20 points in 50 games with Powell River last season.

“We are excited to add James to our roster this season,” says Centennial Head Coach and GM Luke Pierce.  “He comes with two years of BCHL experience which will help make up for some of the experience we are losing with departures from last year’s team.  James has great size and has proven in his past that he can be an elite scorer.”

“We are confident that a fresh start here in Merritt will give his career a boost and we look forward to having him join our group at our upcoming camp on the 19th,” Pierce added.

Centennials training camp begins Monday August 19th at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.

And the Kings:

The Powell River Kings made a trade Monday, sending 1995-born forward James Neil to the Merritt Centennials in exchange for future considerations.
Neil, from White Rock, came to the Kings as a 16-year old in 2011 from the BCMML’s Valley West Hawks. In 113 regular season and playoff games with the Kings, Neil scored 12 goals and added 22 assists.
The Kings would like to thank James for his contributions on and off the ice for the Kings organization and the Powell River community. The team wishes him the best with the Merritt Centennials.

Merritt – Trail Trade:

For the second time in two days, Trail Smoke Eaters GM and Head Coach Bill Birks swung a trade and for the second straight day, he’s added to his forward depth.

Meanwhile, Merritt has added to an already solid defense corps returning for 2013-14 as the deal sees the Centennials acquire blueliner Shane Poulsen (94) from the Smoke Eaters for forward Brendan Lamont (94).

With the trade, the Cents have a group of defensemen that includes Poulsen, Dane Birks, Dylan Chanter, Tyler Martin, Charlie Donlin and John Saunders. Meanwhile, the addition of Lamont and Brodyn Nielsen augments a forward group for the Smokies that includes eligible returnees Austin Adduono, Scott Davidson, Mitch Foyle, Bryce Knapp, Jesse Knowler, Jake Lucchini, Luke Sandler and Adam Wheeldon.

To Merritt:
D Shane Poulsen (94)http://www.eliteprospects.com/iframe_player_stats.php?player=59927
To Trail:
F Brendan Lamont (94)http://www.eliteprospects.com/iframe_player_stats.php?player=128276
Here’s the release from the Centennials website:

The Merritt Centennials are pleased to announce the acquisition of 19-year-old defenseman Shane Poulsen from the Trail Smoke Eaters in exchange for 18-year-old forward Brendan Lamont.

Poulsen played the last season and a half with the Smoke Eaters, compiling 33 points on nine goals and 24 assists in 73 games. He also had 64 penalty minutes. Prior to making the jump to the BCHL, Poulsen, who’s from Kamloops, notched four goals and 19 assists in 64 career KIJHL games with the Kamloops Storm.

“We are very excited about the addition of Shane. He is an intelligent puck moving defenseman who we believe will fit seamlessly into our system.,” said Cents GM and Head Coach Luke Pierce.

Pierce continued, “Shane will add to what is already turning out to be a very deep core on our blueline. On behalf of the Centennials, I’d like to welcome Shane to Merritt and look forward to seeing him in camp in August.”

“I want to thank Brendan for two great years here in Merritt, he’ll definitely be missed,” Pierce added. “He was a fan favourite and a great member of our community and organization. We wish Brendan all the best in Trail and know he’ll be an asset to the Smoke Eaters.” 

Merritt Centennials Seek a New Athletic Therapist & Equipment Manager:

With last season’s Athletic Therapist and Equipment Manager Kyla Knox moving on from the Centennials for personal reasons, Merritt is looking to fill the position for the 2013-14 season.

This is posted on the BCHL website under “Careers”:

Job Title: Athletic Therapist/Equipment Manager
Team: Merritt Centennials League: BCHL
Location: Merritt, BC Travel Required: With Team
Level/Salary Range: Min. $2000 per month
Contract Type: Contract length negotiable
 Contact: Luke Pierce – General Manager Date posted: May 1, 2013
Will Train Applicant: In equipment related duties Posting Expires: June 15, 2013
Website Posting: Merrittcentennials.com
Applications Accepted By:
Fax or E-mail:
(250) 378-3609 or luke@merrittcentennials.com
Subject Line: Trainer Job
Attention: Luke Pierce
Merritt Centennials
PO Box 1730
Merritt, B.C. V1K 1B8
Job Description
Role and Responsibilities
The Athletic Therapist/Equipment Manager is a key part of the success of the Merritt Centennials Hockey Club, contributing to the health and readiness of the players and working with the coaching staff to ensure optimal performance.
·         Coordinate and implement all medical, rehabilitation and strength and conditioning activities
·         Responsible for equipment inventory tracking, maintenance and distribution
·         Responsible for injury prevention and assessment
Qualifications and Education Requirements
Preferred experience with hockey teams or other team related sports. Applicants must have (or been near completion of) the following qualifications:
·         Certified Athletic Therapist
·         Bachelor’s Degree or Diploma: Kinesiology or related program preferred.
The following credentials are preferred but not essential:
·         ATC
·         NSCA CSCS certification
·         Hockey Canada “Speak Out” and “Safety” Programs
Preferred Skills
Working knowledge of modality unit preferred. Applicants must be committed to working in team environment and proven ability to handle multiple tasks and responsibilities.

Merritt-Brooks Trade:

The Merritt Centennials made their first trade of the 2012-13 season on Wednesday and now West Kelowna is the lone team in the BCHL’s Interior Division to not make a deal thus far this season.

The Cents moved 19-year-old forward Brandon Bruce to the AJHL’s Brooks Bandits in exchange for 18-year-old forward Sam Johnson and future considerations.

Bruce is a tenacious, hard-working player who should become a fan favourite in Brooks on a team that is a definite RBC Cup contender this season.
I‘ll admit that I don’t know anything about Johnson, so it’ll be interesting to see what experience he brings to Merritt from a season and a half of hockey with an outstanding team in the Bandits and his midget numbers indicate that there is some offensive potential there.

To Merritt Centennials:
F Sam Johnson (94)


+ Future Considerations

To Brooks Bandits:
F Brandon Bruce (93)


Here’s the release from the Centennials website:

The Merritt Centennials are pleased to announce the acquisition of forward Sam Johnson (94) and future considerations from the Brooks Bandits of the AJHL in exchange for forward Brandon Bruce (93).

Johnson, who’s from Okotoks, Alberta, had 4 goals and 1 assist in 20 games with Brooks this season. He notched 4 goals and 2 assists in 39 games as a rookie with the Bandits last season. Johnson also got into two playoff games as Brooks advanced to the BC-Alberta Doyle Cup championship series. He played with the UFA Bisons Midget AAA team out of Strathmore, Alberta in 2010-11, registering 23 goals and 16 assists in 34 games as a 16-year-old.

“We are excited to add a player like Sam who showed tremendous offensive potential at the midget level,” said Cents GM & Head Coach Luke Pierce. “He’s been on arguably the best team in Canada for the past season and a half and we feel maybe hasn’t been given the opportunity to show his best.”

“We look forward to having Sam join our team in the coming days and working with him to become a valuable member of our hockey club,” Pierce added.

“Brandon Bruce was instrumental in our success last year and his energy and intensity make him a very popular player from a fan perspective, Pierce continued. “His speed and tenacity will be missed but we believe there are individuals here who can make up for that.

“It’s unfortunate this season didn’t play out the way we hoped for Brandon and I’m sure from a personal standpoint, he’d echo those sentiments,” Pierce reflected. “We certainly wish Brandon all the best with Brooks and in his future beyond junior hockey.”

For further information, please contact Cents Head Coach and GM Luke Pierce at 250-378-3607 or email luke@merrittcentennials.com

The Cents next game is Friday, November 30 as they continue their 40th season of junior ‘A’ hockey at the Shaw Centre in Salmon Arm against the SilverBacks. Game time is 7 pm. Fans can listen to the game on Q101 FM in Merritt or watch online at FastHockey.com.

Follow the Cents on Twitter at @BCHLCentennials and on Facebook.com/MerrittCentennials

Season tickets are still available for the 2012-13 season. For more information on how to get yours, call the Cents Marketing office at 250-378-3604.

The Merritt Centennials, proudly celebrating 40 seasons 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.

Merritt Defenceman Ross Mancuso Moves On From BCHL Career:

(Photo credit: Merritt Centennials)

The Merritt Centennials removed 20-year-old defenceman Ross Mancuso from their roster earlier this summer and now we know why.

Mancuso has retired from hockey to focus on his education and as a result, gives the Cents room for another 20-year-old. That being said, with Mancuso not returning, it leaves Merritt with Richard Sabourin, Dylan Chanter and Tyler Martin as the lone returnees on the blueline.

D Ross Mancuso (92)

Merritt, BC – August 24, 2012

The Merritt Centennials would like to announce that defenceman Ross Mancuso has moved on from the BC Hockey League. The 20-year old from Coppell, Texas has decided to focus on his future and education by attending university in the United States starting this September.

“Ross has decided to move on from the game of hockey and we fully respect his decision,” said Cents GM & Head Coach Luke Pierce. “We have known since the end of last season of his decision so we’re prepared to open this year without him.”

Pierce added, “It’s disappointing to lose a person of his character and a player of that quality; however, we understand that sometimes these young men see a need to get on with the next step in their life.”

“We wish Ross all the best in his future and thank him for his contributions with us last season,” concluded Pierce.

The 6’1″, 194 pound Mancuso made the Centennials as a rookie in September of last year after playing with the junior ‘B’ Osoyoos Coyotes during the 2010-11 season.

He scored his first goal of the season and first career BCHL goal on January 21 in a 4-1 win over the Victoria Grizzlies.

Mancuso played 51 games in Merritt and he closes out his BCHL career with 11 points (1G, 10A) and 31 PIM. He also had two points (1G, 1A) in nine career BCHL playoff games.

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