Merritt Centennials assistant coach Matt Samson used the club’s annual general meeting on July 16 to confirm the signing of four new players to the team for the 2016-17 BCHL season.

As previously reported, two of the players — 20-year-old forward Chris Dodero and 18-year-old defenceman Marshall Skapski — were obtained as part of major trades made earlier in the 2015-16 season.

Dodero, originally from Bloomington, Illinois, played for the Nanaimo Clippers last season, scoring 18 goals and adding 23 assists for 41 points in 67 regular season and playoff games. He comes to Merritt as part of the trade package that saw Gavin Gould go to Nanaimo at the trade deadline in January. The Cents also received 1997-born forward Zach Court.

Skapski, who hails originally from Abbotsford, comes to Merritt to complete the trade that had the Centennials ship forward Ryan Finnegan to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.

In 52 games with the Bulldogs, Skapski registered one goal and six assists for seven points. He is the nephew of former Merritt Centennial Bobby Vermette, and has a brother currently playing for the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.

“He’s a top-four, depth defenceman,” said Cents’ head coach and GM Joe Martin. You can never have enough veteran blueliners. Being an 18-year-old with experience in the league, I think Marshall’s ready to be an impact guy.”

As for Dodero, Martin said, “We see Chris as an asset. Whether he plays here (Merritt) or not remasins to be seen.”

The Centennials’ two most recent acquisitions are 18-year-old forward Cade Gleekel from Minneapolis, Minnesota and 17-year-old defenceman Zach Metsa from Delafield, Wisconsin.

Last season, Gleekel played 47 games in the premier United States high school league, scoring 28 goals and adding 47 assists for 75 points.

“With the departure of Grannary and Jermain, we have two big holes to fill in terms of scoring,” said Martin. “We feel Cade will help in that department, and that when the regular season rolls around, he will be an impact player.”

Metsa comes to the Centennials from the Milwaulkee Junior Admirals. In just 30 games with their U18 squad, Metsa tallied seven goals and 17 assists for 24 points.

Like Jermain, Metsa has been recruited to play at Quinnipiac University when his junior hockey career is completed.

“Zach is a two-way defenceman who really sees the ice well,” said Martin. “We had a chance to meet with Zach and his family during our tryout camp in Abbotsford. We feel we have added a great athlete to our program, and also a great family.”

Martin stated that the Abbotsford spring camp had in excess of 100 skaters and goalies, and was very successful.

The Centennials have committed to a couple of additional players, and will release their names in the coming weeks.

COLLEGE BOUND

Two Centennials players expected to return for the 2016-17 BCHL season will not be back after all. Both Colin Grannary and Nick Jermain will be starting their NCAA hockey careers this September — one year ahead of schedule.

Grannary, from Delta, is off to the University of Nebraska-Omaha, while American-born Jermain will be attending Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut. 

In two full seasons with the Centennials (2014-16), the 19-year-old Grannary amassed 115 points (47 goals, 68 assists) in 114 regular season and playoff games.

He was ranked #178 amongst North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, but was not taken in the 2016 NHL draft. Jermain, 20, scored 29 goals and added 25 assists for 54 points in 54 games during his one season (2015-16) with the Cents.