In the storied 45-year history of the Merritt Centennials hockey club, few players have had more of an impact on the community than hometown product Eddy Beers.

Born in Zwaag, Holland in 1959 to a family of 10 children, Beers moved to Canada in 1960, and to Merritt in 1962. He grew up playing all his minor hockey in the Nicola Valley prior to joining the Cents in 1976 for two-and-a-half seasons.

“Eddy was actually more interested in officiating hockey than playing the game,” said his brother Nic. “He saw that as his path to the NHL. He lined a BCJHL game at the age of 15.”

It was reknowned Cents coach Joe Tennant who discovered Beers reffing and playing midget house hockey and convinced him to suit up for the Centennials.

In his second year of Junior A (1977-78), Beers scored 55 goals and added 60 assists for 115 points in just 63 regular-season games. His linemates that year were Kelly Ferner and Ken Stroud.

Merritt Centennials’ legend Eddy Beers (in the middle) takes part in the putting contest at the Cents’ annual golf tournament at the Merritt Golf and Country Club on July 15. (Photo contributed).

The ‘77-78 season represents the most significant in Centennials’ history as the team experienced achievements yet to be matched.

The Cents rocketed to the top of the BCJHL standings, finishing with a record of 50-15-1 and 101 points. Merritt racked up an astonishing 489 goals that season, led by six different players with 90 points or more.

In the post-season, Beers and the rest of the Centennials went on to win both the Mowat Cup provincial championship and the B.C.-Alberta Junior A title before losing to the Prince Albert Raiders in the Western Canadian finals. The Raiders would go on to win the Centennial Cup as national champions.

The following season, 1978-79, Beers left Merritt at Christmas to play NCAA Division 1 hockey at the University of Denver. In a distinguished four-year career with the Pioneers under coach Ralph Backstrom, Beers totalled 168 points in 134 regular-season games, including 50 goals and 34 assists as captain of the team in his final season (tops in the entire NCAA).

In 1981, Beers was a free-agent draft pick of the NHL’s Calgary Flames. He would go on to play five seasons for the Alberta club, before being traded to the St. Louis Blues.

A herniated disk in his back prematurely ended Beers’s hockey carrer in 1987. In 291 NHL games, he scored 101 goals and added 126 assists for 227 points, to go along with 303 minutes in penalties.

Following his retirement from professional hockey, Beers went on to coach with three different teams in the BCJHL and later the BCHL — the Centennials (1987-89 and 1997-98), the Kelowna Spartans (1989-91), and the Chilliwack Chiefs (1991-92). He won the Joe Tennant trophy as BCHL Coach of the Year in the 1988-89 season with Merritt.

Beers currently lives in Maple Ridge with his wife, Jodi (also from Merritt), and his two sons, Jacob and Matt.

At Friday night’s game against the Penticton Vees, a special ceremony will be held at centre ice to honour the distinguished hockey career of Merritt’s own Eddy Beers. His name will be officially added to the Centennials’ Wall of Honour, where it will join the first inductee, Beers’s long-time friend Brian Barrett.