The Merritt Centennials Junior A hockey club has announced that this year’s annual summertime fundraising golf tournament will be held at the prestigious Sagebrush Golf and Sporting Club, located in Quilchena.

The 2013 Golf Classic will take place on Saturday, August 17.The festivities will begin at 11 a.m. with check-in and registration. Teams of four will hit the course for a shotgun start at 1 p.m.

Registration costs $150 per player and includes 18 holes of golf, fly fishing, a barbecue dinner, a silent auction and lots of prizes. The deadline to register is Aug. 6.

A number of current and past Merritt Centennials players are scheduled to take part in the charity fundraising golf tournament, including recent Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick Dane Birks, and former Centennial Reece Willcox, who was selected by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2012 draft.

Also expected to attend is past Centennial Bill “Spider” Mukalt, who played three seasons with Merritt (1991-1994) before going on to play four years at the University of Michigan and four seasons in the NHL with the Vancouver Canucks, Minnesota Wild, New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators.

According to Lawrence Sacharuk, the Cents’ new director of marketing, this year’s Golf Classic is filling up fast.

“When we first started talking with Sagebrush, the number we came up with was around 60 participants,” Sacharuk said. “The event has proven to be so popular that we’re now talking more like 20-plus teams of four; in other words, over 80 players.

“Everybody who’s signed up so far is quite excited about playing Sagebrush. Very few have had the opportunity to play it before, but they’ve heard a lot about it.”

Sacharuk went on to say that, right from the outset, the staff at the esteemed Sagebrush course have been wonderful to work with.

“We’ve had several meetings now with Sagebrush representatives. They are really looking forward to this year’s event, and to the future. They want to make it a success, and have it grow from year to year to year.”

Sacharuk said that he has also received tremendous support from the business community, both locally and across the continent.

“We have some tremendous prizes that have been donated by Merritt businesses, and by the likes of the Vancouver Canucks, the B.C. Lions and the New York Rangers. We’ve also got golfing trips and camping trips,” Sacharuk said. “We’re going to have a tremendous silent auction.”

Prior commitments, including his own wedding, made it impossible for Merritt professional golfer Roger Sloan to commit to this year’s Golf Classic, but Sacharuk said the former minor hockey player “definitely wants to be front and centre in the future.

“The Classic is going to be a first-class event from top to bottom,” Sacharuk said. “When players finish their round this year and wrap up the evening of activities, they’re going to stand back and say, ‘Wow! What a place. Way to go Centennials.'”

For more information on this year’s Golf Classic, contact Sacharuk at (250) 378-3604 or (778) 363-0011.