After sending off the team’s two top scorers in Talon Zakall and Jerzy Orchard in the last few weeks, the Merritt Centennials made a number of other key personnel changes on or around the Jan. 10 British Columbia Hockey League trade deadline.

On Jan. 5, Merritt acquired the playing rights to Geoff Bjarnason from the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Grande Prairie Storm.

The big 6’6” blueliner had posted four points in 16 games with the Storm this season.

The following day, the Cents were granted the playing rights of another defenseman from the AJHL, Sam Boldt of the Camrose Kodiaks, who has also posted four points so far this year.

Lastly, forward Jakob Jones of the Humboldt Broncos out of Saskatchewan was picked up on Jan. 8, shortly after a successful minor hockey stint with the Thompson Blazers.

The only player-for-player trade of deadline week came on Jan. 9, when the Cents sent Nick Remissong, who had played just three games for Merritt, to the Trail Smoke Eaters in exchange for forward Jackson Krill.

The 17-year-old Krill was in his second season with the Smoke Eaters.


BC forward signed

The Cents followed up the trade deadline with the signing of rookie forward Diego Johnson on Jan. 11.

At just 15 years old, the Fort St. James native skated in 18 games last year with the Okanagan Hockey Academy Under-17 squad, posting nine goals and 14 assists.

“Diego is a player that plays the game at a pace that will allow him success in the BCHL,” said new Head Coach and General Manager Curtis Toneff. 

“Not many players are ready to play in this league at his age, but with his frame and willingness to battle in every zone, Diego will be a player that can move up and down a lineup and will be exciting for fans to watch mature into a force in this league.”

Johnson’s family now resides in Merritt.