The Merritt Centennials Icebreaker is back in full force, and members of the community came out to support their local hockey team at the first gala since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The annual charity event takes place during the team’s parents weekend, where parents and guardians of team members visit Merritt for a weekend of hockey, socializing, and community events. Hundreds gathered at the Merritt Civic Centre on Saturday to mark the occasion, and celebrate the Centennials second win of the season the day before, against former head coach Joe Martin and the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.

“The Icebreaker brings everyone together,” said Curtis Toneff, head coach and GM. 

“Parents, billets, sponsors, board members, and the team got together. It’s something that was a regular event in the past, but COVID put a damper on that. It’s nice for people to start to get together again.”

The evening began with an address and a welcome from coaching staff, followed by cocktails and a social hour preceding dinner. Scott Casey, service officer at Merritt’s Royal Canadian Legion Branch 96, was the keynote speaker for this year’s Icebreaker. The Coquihalla Coyotes played a show following Casey’s talk, and parents, teammates, and community members hit the dance floor.

Cents coaching staff said the event was not only an opportunity to raise funds supporting the community owned team, but also a chance for networking. The Merritt Centennials can often be seen out in the community at events and social gatherings, giving players a chance to connect with Merrittonians. 

“We introduced the team to the community, and put names to faces,” added Toneff.

“We haven’t played a lot of home games yet this year, but now when we play more down the road people will already know each other and make them feel more comfortable.”

For more information on the Merritt Centennials, including schedules and current standings, visit the team website at, or the BCHL site at