Centennials Continue Their Winning Ways:

This was is Thursday’s Merritt Herald:

Centennials continue their winning ways

By Ian Webster – Merritt Herald
Published: November 10, 2011 1:00 PM
Updated: November 10, 2011 1:52 PM

The Merritt Centennials racked up three more wins this past week – two of them in overtime – to maintain their strong third place position in the BCHL’s Interior Conference standings.

The Cents (22) currently sit just two points back of second place Vernon (24) and only four points behind division-leading Penticton (26).

More importantly, Merritt is beginning to create some breathing space between themselves and the chasing pack. In a fourth-place tie, Chilliwack and Prince George (17) now sit five points in arrears, while Westside (16) is another point back in sixth. At the bottom of the heap are Salmon Arm (12) and Trail (9).

Last Wednesday, in Salmon Arm, a dramatic overtime goal by 20-year-old centre Chad Brears lifted the Centennials to a 3-2 victory over the Silverbacks. The game winner came just 45 seconds into the first period of OT on a great scoring play by the team’s number one forward line of Brears, Evan Stack and Regan Soquila.

Other Cents’ goals on the night were netted by Brent Fletcher and Brendan Lamont in a span of four minutes at the beginning of the second period. It was 17-year-old Lamont’s first goal in the BCHL and a fitting start to a stellar week of play by the über-talented rookie.

Between the pipes, Merritt netminder Tyler Steel was as solid as a rock in turning aside 26 of 28 shots and giving up only one even-strength goal.

Friday night’s rematch between the Cents and Backs at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena was every bit as exciting as Wednesday’s game, especially since the result turned out the same: a 3-2 win for the Centennials, and Brears once again the last-goal hero.

On a night that saw plenty of rubber directed at both goalies (the Cents’ Lino Chimienti and the Backs’ Kurt Williams), the two teams traded goals evenly through the first 40 minutes. Scoring for Merritt were Payton Schaefer in the first period and Brears in the second, while Bryce Gervais and Kody Dhaliwal replied for the visiting Apes.

With time winding down in the third, and another round of overtime seemingly imminent, Brears latched onto a pass from defenseman Richard Sabourin and wired a wicked shot from the left face-off dot past Williams for the game winner.

Chimienti held the fort for the remaining 3:38 of regulation, and the Cents skated off with their second win in three nights over the Silverbacks.

If the two wins over Salmon Arm were the appetizer and the entrée on the weekend menu, then Saturday night’s 3-2 victory over the first-place Vees, in Penticton no less, was indeed the dessert.

The win was especially delicious given that the Cents had not won in the Lakeside city in almost six years – a span of 18 games.

Merritt got off to a great start in Penticton, scoring the game’s first two goals at timely points of the opening stanza. Hard-working Evan Stack tallied at the 5:27 mark on the powerplay, then Billy Marshall added another with just 30 seconds remaining in the period.

The Cents continued to dominate through a scoreless second period, but let things slip in the third. A pair of powerplay goals by Connor Reilly and Grant Nicholson, the latter with less than a minute remaining, evened things on the scoreboard and sent the contest into extra innings.

Victims of an OT loss to the Vees on the same ice one week earlier, the Cents were not about to have history repeat itself in a span of seven days.

Merritt came out four-on-four with guns ablazing, and were promptly rewarded. A tenacious forecheck by Fletcher behind the Vees’ net resulted in a turnover. The 19-year-old Pitt Meadows native fed the biscuit to a pinching Richard Sabourin, and the blueliner made no mistake, putting the puck smartly past Pen stopper Michael Garteig for the victory.

The Cents will be looking to make it four in a row this coming Friday when they host the Prince George Spruce Kings for the first time this season. Game time is 7:30 pm.

Five-On-Five, The Cents Are a Force to be Reckoned With:

This was in Thursday’s Merritt Herald:

Five-on-five, the Cents are a force to be reckoned with

By Ian Webster – Merritt Herald
Published: November 10, 2011 1:00 PM
Updated: November 10, 2011 1:49 PM

Even strength, the Merritt Centennials​ might just be one of the best teams in the BCHL right now.

The Cents are currently on a three-game win streak, following victories over Salmon Arm (twice) and Penticton in the past eight days. They also own a record of 8-1-0-1 in their last 10 games, the best in Canada’s top Junior A league.

To top things off, the Merritt Centennials were an honorable mention in this week’s Canadian Junior Hockey League nationwide Top-20 rankings, a distinction that has eluded a Cents’ team for close to a decade.

The one ‘fly in the ointment’ so to speak has been the (mis)play of Merritt’s special teams. With the man advantage or disadvantage, the Cents have been horrific. If the team can ever get its powerplay and penalty kill on track, it is almost scary to think how good this year’s squad could be.

The numbers simply don’t lie when it comes to odd-man situations. Thus far this season, the Cents have just 13 powerplay tallies in 75 opportunities for a mediocre 17.3% efficiency rating (fourth worst in the league).

Even more telling, the Centennials have given up 25 goals in 90 occasions when they were down one or more players for a league-worst 72.2% PK.

Turn the numbers around and you can see just how good this year’s Centennials are when playing their opposition even up. Of Merritt’s 56 goals scored in 18 games, 43 have been at even strength for a rating of 76.8% (second best in the league). Of the 62 total goals scored against them, Merritt has only allowed 37 while at even strength for an impressive stat of 59.7%, almost five percentage points better than any other team.

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.

Real Cents Season Begins This Weekend:

This is posted on the Merritt Herald website:

By Ian Webster – Merritt Herald
Published: September 22, 2011 12:00 PM
Updated: September 22, 2011 12:21 PM

“I’m really excited to get going,” stated Luke Pierce, Merritt Centennials​’ head coach and GM on the eve of a new BCHL season that will see his team play their first three games on the road. “Training camp and the exhibition schedule were long. I’m tired of games that don’t mean anything. It’s time to start playing for real.”

Reality comes in the form of an opening-weekend doubleheader up in Prince George against the Spruce Kings this coming Friday and Saturday nights, followed by a mid-week encounter with the Trail Smoke Eaters​ next Wednesday at the storied Cominco Arena.

“I’m glad we’re on the road to start,” said Pierce. “It gives our players some time to be together and to bond.”

The Cents begin their regular schedule following a 5-1-0 record in pre-season play, including a 5-3 win against the Sprucies back on September 2 in 100 Mile House.

That game ended on an emotional note as a couple of Prince George players who were not dressed for the contest began mouthing off and taunting Cents’ team members as they left the ice at the conclusion of the game. Pierce called the Spruce Kings’ behavior “classless’ at the time, and isn’t prepared to retract his comments now.

Merritt’s bench boss feels his team will have plenty of edge to their games in Prince George given that their only exhibition loss was a 4-1 setback at the hands of the Chilliwack Chiefs​ in their final pre-season outing.

“I never like to lose,” declared Pierce, “but I think that the loss was valuable, and we can take an important lesson out of it. They were a pretty solemn bunch in the dressing room after the defeat. I want them to remember that feeling. It’s not fun.”

The loss to the Chiefs on home ice came less than 24 hours after the Cents handed coach Harvey Smyl’s newly-reborn War Bonnets a 2-1 setback at the beautiful Prospera Place in Chilliwack.

“They weren’t well-played games by any means,” said Pierce in summarizing the two Cents-Chiefs encounters. “I didn’t really see a lot of desire on anybody’s part. In Merritt, they capitalized on three stupid mistakes by us and that was the game.”

Cents’ netminder Lino Chimienti went the distance and picked up the win in Chilliwack. Jacob Reichert tallied both goals for Merritt and continued to look great at the start of his sophmore season with the Centennials.

Merritt defenseman Brandon Pfeil saw his first game action of the pre-season Friday, but it lasted just 36 seconds.

After initiating a thunderous but clean hit on a pinch at the blueline, Pfeil was jumped and forced to drop the gloves with Chilliwack’s Tyler Miller. The early fisticuffs resulted in game misconducts to both participants.

Some further ill-will at the end of Friday night’s game in Chilliwack carried over to Saturday as the Chiefs came at the Cents hard in the opening period, and scored with just three minutes gone on the clock.

Centennials’ newcomer Brandon Bruce continued to sparkle since arriving in Merritt, and drew his team even with a precision one-timer at the 13:34 mark of the first period.

Unfortunately, that was a good as it got in their final pre-season tune-up, as costly errors led directly to Chiefs’ goals that Cents’ netminder Tyler Steel had no chance on.

Immediately following the two games versus Chilliwack, Pierce and assistant coach Joe Martin began the process of reducing the final Cents’ roster down to 21, the new league maximum for this season.

Gone from the forward ranks are Dylan Playfair and weekend pick-up Brandon Formosa, and from the defense Dominic Centis, Simon Horlick and Braeden Hikichi.

Named to the final Cents’ line-up was Merritt minor hockey product Payton Schaefer, the first local player to officially “make the team” since Codie Kightley in the 2008-2009 season. Pierce stated that the 18-year-old Schaefer was full value for his selection.

“Payton made a strong case for himself right from day one,” he said. “He showed a great attitude and willingness to learn.”

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.

Cents Need Billets, Training Camp Preview:

With training camp starting Monday, the Cents continue to plan for the upcoming season. The team held a billet information meeting tonight at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena. I did an interview with Cents co-billet coordinator Andrea Barnes on my morning show today and although the meeting was earlier, there is still some good info about billeting in the interview. So consider having a Cents player stay at your home this season!

Cents Co-Billet Coordinator Andrea Barnes

Click here to download

I also chatted with Cents head coach and GM Luke Pierce ahead of camp.

Cents Head Coach & GM Luke Pierce

Click here to download

Ian Webster wrote an awesome preview of training camp in this week’s Merritt Herald:

Cents’ training camp opens Monday

By Ian Webster – Merritt Herald
Published: August 17, 2010 6:00 PM

With the beginning of another Merritt Centennials’ training camp just days away, excitement in this hockey-mad community is rapidly building.

In excess of 100 players are expected to descend upon the Nicola Valley over the weekend in anticipation of Monday morning registration, and on-ice scrimmages starting in the afternoon.

Cents’ head coach and GM Luke Pierce states that his phone has been ringing off the hook in recent days.

“It’s been crazy,” says Pierce. “I’ve been getting calls from all over the continent from players looking to get an invite to camp.”

Pierce, along with assistant coach Chad DeLeeuw, have been busy organizing the five-day camp which runs until Friday, August 27 at noon at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena, and will officially wrap up with the annual intrasquad game that evening at 6:30 p.m.

Approximately 90 rookies will be put through their paces on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of training camp. They will be divided into six teams, with 75-minute games running almost continuously over the opening three days. There will also be a goaltending session at 6:15 p.m. on Monday, followed by a parent meeting in the arena mezzanine at 7:45 p.m.

After a preliminary round of cuts Wednesday afternoon, the fifteen or so Cents’ veterans and off-season acquisitions will join the mix, and all remaining players will be reconfigured into four teams that will scrimmage throughout Thursday and into Friday morning. Another round of cuts will take place Friday afternoon.

Pierce hopes to have approximately 40 players participate in the intrasquad game Friday evening, and then trim that number down to about 30-32 for the team’s quartet of pre-season games beginning on August 29 in Salmon Arm.

Returning players that Cents’ fans can expect to see at camp include forwards Dustin Johnson, Jeff Jones, David Sabey, Steven Wall, Silvan Harper, Sam Gemmell and Alex MacMillan, along with defensemen Steve Tresierra, Jeff Zmurchyk, Kameran Crawford and Austin Baecker.

Last year’s youthful netminders Cole Holowenko and Keith Hamilton are also expected to put in an appearance at training camp, but both will depart somewhat prematurely for WHL camps in Chiliwack and Portland, Oregon respectively.

Rounding out the veteran core will be summer signings Jared Anderson, a 20-year-old goalie from the Grande Prairie Storm of the AJHL, and 18-year-old Jakob Reichert, a much-heralded 6’3” forward who spent last season with the Revelstoke Grizzlies.

Almost a dozen goalies, along with 24 defensemen and 54 forwards make up the ranks of the rookies vying for coveted spots on this year’s Merritt Centennials team. They are coming from as far east as Manitoba and Minnesota, as far south as Dallas, Texas, and as far north as Alaska.

There will be a strong contingent of local talent on hand, too, including Daylan Robertson, Cole Fex, Eric Schmidt, Brendan Colter, Mike Desimone, Russell Sanderson and Payton Schaefer – all of whom played on the Merritt midget AA team that made it to provincials last season.

Other players with a Merritt connection who will be in camp include Briar McNaney, who played last year in the KIJHL, Tye Moses, River Lafferty, and Jordan Paddock. The latter makes his way back to British Columbia from Regina, Saskatchewan after playing for the Merritt bantam reps back in 2007-8.

With so many bodies at training camp, Pierce and DeLeeuw will be getting some much-needed assistance when it comes to scouting and evaluation.

“We’ll have several Junior B coaches on hand,” states Pierce, “including Rylan Ferster (Revelstoke), Dale Hladun (Princeton), Steve Junker (Castlegar), and Tyler Lebow (Kamloops). As well, Maury Grant [Cents’ assistant coach last year] will be here.”

Pierce says that the process of narrowing down the numbers, and identifying the key players who can help the Centennials this year and into the future is a complex one.

“We’ve made it clear that overall, as a team, we want to get younger. That said, we still want to field the most competitive team possible every season. Presently, we have a target range of how many players we would like to have from each age group/birth year, but we’re certainly not going to pass on a talented player, no matter what age.”

High priorities for Pierce and his coaching staff are first and foremost work ethic along with character.

“We want players who are willing to play hard every shift, and are fundamentally good people. They will make a meaningful contribution to the team and to the community.”

Merritt News reporter Robin Poon also previewed camp in this week’s paper:

Cents filling out new roster next week
August 19,2010

Robin Poon
News Reporter

The Merritt Centennials training camp kicks off next Monday, beginning a weeklong series of scrimmages that will determine the makeup of this season’s roster.

After registration Monday morning, about 90 rookies from throughout Canada and the United States will be assigned to six teams that will start playing the same afternoon.

Initial cuts will be made on Wednesday afternoon.

In the second part of the camp, Cents veterans and other recruits will join the remaining rookies in four teams.

By Friday evening, Cents head coach and general manager Luke Pierce plans to have 40 players on the ice for the camp’s final intra-squad game.

Following the game, the Cents will have a roster of about 30 players for the team’s exhibition matches against Salmon Arm, which start Aug. 29.

Among the Cents returning from last season is Steve Tresierra, who has been promoted to team captain, succeeding Jordan Soquila.

Tresierra was alternate captain in 2009-10.

Soquila is moving on after two seasons with the Centennials. He has been recruited to play with the Queen’s University Gaels in Kingston, Ont.

Cents goalies Cole Holowenko and Keith Hamilton are also moving on to WHL camps.

Thursday Movements, Cents Press Round-Up:

Thursday Movements:

D Kyle Hood (Penticton/Cowichan Valley, 2000-04) has signed a one-year contract with Milano Rossoblu (Italy Series A2). Hood, who led all BCHL defencemen in scoring during the 2003-04 season with 66 points, played last year with Arizona Sundogs (CHL), posting 14 goals and 42 assists in 63 games. . . .

F Casey Bartzen (Quesnel, 1998-99) signed a one-year deal with Miskolci Jegesmedve JSE (Hungary MOL Liga). Bartzen, who holds the Millionaires franchise record for points in a season with 109, skated last season with Bisons de Neuilly-sur-Marne (France Ligue Magnus), posting five goals and nine assists in 16 games. . . .

F Jeff Hoggan (Powell River, 1998-99) joins Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg (Germany DEL) for the 2010-11 season. The Hope, BC product split last season between San Antonio Rampage (AHL) and Phoenix Coyotes (NHL). Hoggan had no points in four games with the Coyotes, but posted 13 goals and 20 assists in 70 games with the Rampage. . . .


The Merritt Herald has two articles this week on the Cents, including one penned by coach and GM Luke Pierce.


Published: July 27, 2010 6:00 PM

By Luke Pierce, Head Coach
Merritt Centennials Hockey Club

As the weather continues to heat up outside, things are cooling down over here at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena. With the ice now installed for the upcoming hockey year, it gives me not only a much cooler office, but a serious reminder that the 2010-11 BCHL hockey season is fast approaching. There’s just four weeks remaining until the opening of training camp, and things are really starting to take shape.

We have made numerous changes and announcements over the past three months that I hope you as fans have read about and listened to. This week, I would like to discuss our most recent one – the announcement of the return of Steve Tresierra for the coming season, and his appointment as our team captain.

Leadership is perhaps one of the most crucial concepts in any setting that involves a team, or any group of people that are working towards a common task. There is a reason why such emphasis is placed on these positions; they come with grave amounts of responsibility. The entire premise of leadership is to inspire people to do things that they likely wouldn’t do on their own. Not a simple task, regardless of the situation.

Now, being a captain of a hockey team is much less demanding than leading a country, or commanding troops in a battle, but, nonetheless, there are responsibilities here. So, why have we chosen Steve Tresierra to take this on?

Steve is a natural leader. He is confident, hard-working, respectful and extremely determined to succeed. Although it is not a necessary requirement for successful leadership, he is well-liked by his teammates and generally anyone he comes into contact with. But what I believe will make Steve a great leader is something that I don’t think most people look at. He is a personal leader. By that, I mean he leads himself in a very efficient manner, which is something many people struggle with. I’ve seen leaders in the past who are great at inspiring others, but struggle to control themselves.

At the end of the day, if every player in our room can take on personal leadership, there really is no need for an external source of inspiration and direction. Now, I’m not saying that Steve won’t be able to provide inspiration to his teammates, because with his work ethic, it’s hard not to be inspiring. However, I’m hoping that each player will be able to observe the way he conducts himself and emulate that behaviour to become their own personal leaders.

Steve will have success in helping to create personal leaders because he is not a big talker. He leads by example, by conduct. That is what I’m hoping will become contagious. I’m also confident that Steve is here to win, and that he knows he may have to make some unpopular recommendations at times in an effort to ensure the best interests of the group are being met.

The hardest part about being a leader is telling your peers, and usually friends, that they aren’t working hard enough, or that they shouldn’t be staying out late tonight. But I’m confident that Steve knows why he is here, and that sometimes those decisions have to be made to preserve not only his interests, but the interest of our hockey club.

Steve is set to lead our team at a crucial time in the history of the organization, and I don’t think we could have asked for a better person to take on this responsibility. Congratulations Steve!

Cents name their captain
By Ian Webster – Merritt Herald
Published: July 27, 2010 6:00 PM

With less than a month to go until the Merritt Centennials begin their training camp, things are beginning to heat up on the local Junior A hockey front.

Last week, the Cents formally announced that not only would 20-year-old defenseman Steve Tresierra be returning for a third BCHL season with the team, but that he would be the captain for the 2010-11 campaign.

The confirmation of Tresierra’s place on the roster for the coming season, and his wearing of the “C” on his jersey, is huge as he will certainly be counted on to not only anchor a defensive corps that will have as many as four rookies, but a Centennials’ squad that may see up to ten new faces in the line-up come September.

Understandably, Cents’ head coach and GM Luke Pierce is ecstatic about Tresierra’s return.

“We are delighted that not only has Steve decided to return to Merritt for another season, but that he has agreed to take on the responsibility of being our captain,” stated Pierce in a July 20th press release. “He provides the necessary foundation for creating a culture based on character, work ethic and determination. Steve is a tremendous individual who is well-liked and respected in our community, and is an elite player in our league who commands the respect of his opponents.”

Last season was a breakout one for Tresierra. The durable native of Golden, B.C. collected 7 goals and 20 assists for 27 points in 60 games. His hard work and huge minutes earned him not only the Top Defenseman trophy at the Centennials’ year-end awards ceremony but also selection to the BCHL Interior Conference all-star team.

Whether Tresierra would be back with the Centennials for his fifth and final year of BCHL eligibility was uncertain right up until two weeks ago as the talented blueliner received a number of scholarship offers from both sides of the border. In the end, Tresierra decided that it would be in his best interests to play one more year in Junior A and build on his already formidable reputation as not only an excellent hockey player but a truly remarkable individual off the ice.

In other Cents’ news, Merritt fans will not be able to look forward to the return of all-purpose player Derek Hills, as the 1990-born native of Campbell River has decided to take his game south of the line. He has signed to play with the Amarillo Bulls of the United Stated Hockey League.

Hills, a versatile two-way player who could suit up as a defenseman or on the wing, scored 18 goals and added 30 assists for 48 points last season, fourth best on the Centennials team.

Finally, the Merritt Centennials also announced last week that former player Alex Valenti has committed to play hockey this coming season for the College of St. Scholastica, a NCAA Division III school based in Duluth, Minnesota. Valenti is the second Centennial to be recruited by the Saints, who earlier this summer announced the signing of Ryne Bodger.

The two Cents will join a Saints’ men’s hockey program that last season had no fewer than 19 Canadians on its roster, including six graduates of the BCHL.

Coach’s Comments for June 2:

This is in this week’s Merritt Herald:

Published: June 01, 2010 6:00 PM

By Luke Pierce, Head Coach

Merritt Centennials Hockey Club

Next Wednesday evening, June 9, at 7 p.m., in the Nicola Valley arena mezzanine, we will be presenting the Merritt Centennials’ Strategic Plan to all who are interested. I have fielded numerous inquiries as to what the meeting will be about so I figured that I would take this opportunity to give a little more insight.

The short version is that we have developed a plan that we believe will help us contend for a provincial/national championship within three years, and we want to share this with you.

The extended version is that the Merritt Centennials have been a part of this community for 37 years, and have gone through some significant ups and downs like any business would over that period of time. What we are hoping to do is create a more intimate relationship between the team and the community that will result in consistent success both on and off the ice.

Creating that relationship encompasses much more than simply having our players pop into schools and businesses from time to time. We want to open up the operations of this hockey club to the entire community so that you have a reason to be involved, and a reason to watch the games.

The reality is that we don’t live in a ‘Field of Dreams’. It’s just not as simple as, “If you build it, they will come.” For nearly four decades the Centennials have been in existence, and through significent portions of that time the people simply have not come. It was built, but they just never showed up.

The simple fact is that too many people didn’t have a reason to come, other than being die-hard hockey fans. Yet, in certain years, the Cents’ games were the thing to do, the arena was the place to be. Reasoning? They were winning, and people were proud of their team.

The reality is we won’t win every night. We need to give people further reason to be involved, and not just as fans. Volunteers, billets, board members, you name them, we want them. We feel the best way to attract the aforementioned is to bring them inside the workings of our organization. We want to give you the opportunity to share in our plans, and help provide us with the insight that may help lead us to our destination.

For the most part, people recognize what the Centennials do for our community. For instance, having the team here helps keep minor hockey costs down, it attracts people to our community, which in turn helps keep the economy rolling, etc.

To be honest, in my opinion those things are all concepts that don’t necessarily inspire fans to fall in love with this team. However, the reality is that when we succeed in getting the Centennials to the level that we desire, the organization can and will act as a catalyst for our local economy.

Until this point, we haven’t given you enough reason to have that sense of pride, but we intend to change that.

At this very moment the Merritt Centennials just do not hold high enough value in our community, through no fault other than our own. We want to change that, and we are going to show you how we intend on doing so. We will make this team the pride of our community, and we want all of you to help us guide the bus!