Buckley hits sixth all-time in games played

By on February 1, 2018
After suiting up for his 201st game with the Merritt Centennials on Wednesday night, captain Tyrell Buckley now sits sixth all time in regular season games played for the franchise. (Herald files).


On Wednesday evening, Merritt Centennials captain Tyrell Buckley etched his name into the annals of team history as he suited up for his 201st regular season game with the BCHL franchise.

The total places him sixth on the list of franchise leaders for games played, a remarkable accomplishment with a club that is celebrating its 45th anniversary this season.

Barring any mishaps for the rest of the season, Buckley is poised to pass a few more names on the all-time list by the end of the season, which will be his fourth since he started his BCHL career with the Cents in 2014.

The man they call “Bucks” has grown considerably in his time in the community, both on and off the ice.

“It took some time, he’s played for four years, but he’s really relished playing against top players every single shift,” said Joe Martin, head coach and GM for the Centennials. “He’s added more offence this year, and he’s not easy to play against.”

But throughout his time in Merritt one thing has remained constant — Buckley’s level head and innate leadership qualities made him an example to his young teammates.

“He handles the day-to-day with our players really well,” said Martin.

Buckley’s leadership skills were recognized last season when was named as an alternate captain, and moved up to captain for 2017-18. But one can hardly discuss Buckley’s time with the team without mentioning the playoff run in 2016-17 — and his remarkable overtime goal in game six of the second round.

The Penticton Vees look on while Tyrell Buckley celebrates his overtime winner during game six of the second round of the BCHL playoffs. (Herald files).

“…Puck taken away by the Centennials, a chance for them the other way. Mike Regush, down the right side, moves in, hits the trailer Buckley — a shot, SCORES!” – Call by Mantar Bhandal on Tyrell Buckley’s game six overtime winner against the Penticton Vees.

“That was pretty special. Especially playing against my hometown team in Penticton,” said Buckley.

For now, Buckley has his sights set firmly on guiding the Cents back to the BCHL playoffs.

“I’m just trying to give back [to the team]. Anything I’ve learned over the past four years, and help them with any questions they might have,” he said. “Just trying to keep it going the last month of the year and start getting some wins going.”

And while his goal is to earn a scholarship to play college hockey at the end of this season, Buckley had fond things to say about his adopted home town.

“I just trusted that it was going to be a good spot when I committed to come here in my 17-year-old year,” he said. “I love the town of Merritt.”

The Cents’ week in review

Friday, Jan. 26

Wenatchee 2 Merritt 1

The Cents started their first of a back-to-back series with the Wenatchee Wild with Austin Roden between the pipes. The Cents netminder was forced to be sharp early, as the dangerous Wild team put up 18 shots in the first period. But the game remained tied at zero heading into the third. “We had good chances, we hit a couple cross bars,” said Joe Martin, Cents’ head coach and GM. The Cents gave up a goal to Murphy Stratton early in the third, and found themselves stymied by the Wild defense.

“We just couldn’t find a goal and then Zach Court made a great play late and got to overtime,” said Martin. “In overtime we even had a power play and had some great chances but the goalie made some saves and we missed the net.”

With the first overtime period having solved nothing, the Wild and the Cents were off to three-on-three double overtime. “We had a two on one, we didn’t score. They had a two on one, went the other way and then got their own rebound and put it in. Our guys who were out there were exhausted and they were a little bit more fresh,” explained Martin. Roden ended up with 44 saves in the losing effort.

Saturday, Jan. 27

Merritt 3 Wenatchee 2

Saturday’s rematch was a “spirited affair” said Martin. “That always happens — you play teams back to back and it gets a little bit more playoff-like mentality. When you prove to yourselves on Friday that it’s going to be a tight game, then you’re kind of going into Saturday thinking ‘What’s going to set us over the top here? What’s going to do it?’”

For the Cents, goalie Jake Berger was once again the difference maker, weathering a storm of shots early to keep the Cents in the contest, before the forwards exploded for back-to-back goals in just over a minute in the second period. Brendan Schneider scored an insurance marker for the Cents in the third period to put the visitors up 3-1, and the tally would eventually stand as the game winner after Wenatchee’s Slava Demin pulled the Wild to within one late in the third period.

The raucous crowd of nearly 4,000 people in the Town Toyota Centre didn’t faze Berger, who made 52 saves on the night.

Wednesday, Jan. 31

Vernon 4 Merritt 1

Mike Van Unen of the Merritt Centennials tries to push Jimmy Lambert of the Vernon Vipers off the puck during a Wednesday night BCHL match up at Kal Tire Place. (Photo courtesy of Lisa Mazurek/Morning Star).

The Vernon Vipers closed out their season series against the Cents with an authoritative 4-1 victory in front of their home crowd at the Kal Tire Place on Wednesday evening.

In an interview with the Vernon Morning Star, Cents’ captain Tyrell Buckley said the Cents had four days rest after earning a win and double-overtime loss in Wenatchee so he expected a stronger outing. 

“That was a tough one for us,” said Buckley. “Good first period and then the second period cost us. Too big of a hole to come back on in the third.” 

The Vipers proved to be efficient on the power play, picking up three goals in five opportunities with the man advantage. The Cents managed to score a power play goal of their own late in the third period, ending the hopes of a shutout for Ty Taylor. Taylor has posted seven shutouts this season — which leads the league by a wide margin (the next closest goalie, Wenatchee’s Seth Eisele has three). Taylor is also leading the league in save percentage (.932) and goals against average (1.82).

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