BCHL Next Generation: Merritt Centennials

Photo credit: Garrett James Photography

All summer we’ll be going team-by-team to profile new players coming in for the 2019-20 season with recaps of offseason commits and acquisitions. We will also have interviews and scouting reports from the coaches.

Next up is the Merritt Centennials.

After a solid season last year that saw them tie for the Interior Division lead, the Merritt Centennials have gone through a number of changes this offseason. Most significantly, they hired longtime BCHL coach Barry Wolff to replace Joe Martin, who after eight years with the team departed to coach the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. Wolff brings over 20 years of junior coaching experience, including 14 in the BCHL. His most recent stint in the league was with the Coquitlam Express from 2013 to 2018 where he won a Fred Page Cup in his first season.

Wolff, who coached the Swan Valley Stampeders of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) last season, recognizes he’s taking over a program that is still in a good position thanks to the work done by his predecessors.

“The program is in good shape,” said Wolff. “It’s been around forever, so there are a lot of good building blocks there. We just need to continue what they’ve got going.”

After taking over the team on May 2, Wolff didn’t rush things on the recruitment trail, a decision that he maintains will be beneficial for the team going forward.

“Obviously, we got a late start, so recruiting has been a bit of a battle, but it’s coming,” he said. “We wanted to make sure we went through the process and did things properly. We’re going to take the time and more or less make guys earn their spot out of camp, which I think is the proper way to do it anyway.”

Rather than announce player commitments prior to training camp, the Centennials have executed several trades that they hope will have an impact on the team next year.

Players acquired via trade

Matthew Osadick (2000, F)

  • Hometown: Grande Point, Man.
  • Previous team: Swan Valley Stampeders (MJHL)
  • Commitment: University of Maine (2020-21)

A player Wolff is quite familiar with as he coached him last season in Swan Valley, Osadick was the team’s third-leading scorer with 63 points (29 goals, 34 assists) in 45 games. He also played for Team Canada West at the 2018 World Junior A Challenge.

Wolff’s scouting report:

“He’s a dynamic player with high-end skill. Hopefully he puts up some points for us like he did last year. He’s a power-play guy that, when you need a goal late in the game, he can add that. He’s a Team Canada West guy, so he’s got that experience on his resume. He’s going to add a lot to our locker room.”

Olson Werenka (1999, D)

  • Hometown: Calgary, Alta.
  • Previous team: Salmon Arm Silverbacks

Werenka had 20 points in 50 games for Salmon Arm last year. The 19-year-old also spent time with the Trail Smoke Eaters in 2017-18, before joining the Bonnyville Pontiacs of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) later that year where he played the majority of that season.

Wolff’s scouting report:

“He’s a veteran guy. We wanted to add some more maturity to our blueline. He’s a kid that brings a lot of grit and determination and he’s hard to play against. In our arena, we want to make sure we can look after the front of our net in our own zone. That’s something that we were lacking and he brings that.”

Chase Nameth (2000, F)

  • Hometown: Regina, Sask.
  • Previous team: Chilliwack Chiefs

Nameth played 44 games with the Chiefs last year in a depth role where he registered a goal and two assists.

Wolff’s scouting report:

“We needed to get a little more sandpaper and grit in our lineup. He definitely brings that. He didn’t have a whole lot of points last year in Chilliwack, but he was playing behind some pretty good players. The scouting report on him is that he could add some secondary scoring and that’s what we’re hoping for.”

Tanner Mortenson (2000, F)

  • Hometown: Calgary, Alta.
  • Previous team: Notre Dame Hounds (SJHL)

The 18-year-old missed most of last season with Notre Dame due to injury, only getting in 14 games.

Wolff’s scouting report:

“Unfortunately, he didn’t have a lot of game time last season. He’s another kid that brings a solid work ethic and some grit and determination. He’ll add some depth to our lineup.”