Merritt Centennials hosts camp to recruit new players.

From April 19 to 21, the Merritt Centennials hosted a recruitment camp at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena to recruit new players under the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL).

The Merritt Centennials Spring Camp was open to players born between 2005 and 2009 to showcase their skills and try to clinch a spot on the team.

New Centennials head coach and assistant general manager Wes McLeod is looking for players with good character and technical skills in hockey. 

“If you can skate and you can compete, we can find a place for you,” said McLeod. “A lot of kids these days have high end skill, they will do things with a puck that maybe people weren’t able to do 20-30 years ago, but again, finding that high end skater and competitive are two things that are super important.”

The camp saw recruits from all over Canada coming to Merritt for an opportunity on the Centennials’ roster.

Whilst still in transition, McLeod is excited for the Centennials’ future under the KIJHL. 

“For me, getting the guys out in the community, it’s going to be super important, we’re going to try to get that done as soon as possible,” said McLeod. “We want our guys out and supporting and volunteering within the community, being at events.”

“In terms of the KIJHL, it’s a great league, it’s been a league that’s been well run for a lot of years,” said McLeod. “It is currently at a good level, but it’s going to take another step as B.C. transitions into the new junior A tier one league that’s fast approaching.”

McLeod hopes to honour the Centennials and their 51-year legacy in the Nicola Valley.

“The history here is unbelievable, I think it’s about joining the history of the program with a vision for the future and that’s what we’re coming in here to do,” said McLeod. “We’re looking to get more local kids, players, from B.C. but even more specific from this area, and we think that’s going to help the legacy here in Merritt as we grow.”

“We’re starting next year in 2024-2025. Over the next couple of years, we’re definitely looking to be competitive, to be good in the community and really embrace the community and get the bat behind the team,” said McLeod. “The fans and the volunteers, and the people here in Merritt, love the Merritt Centennials and we’re looking to re-engage with them and make sure that they know that we’re there to support them as well.”