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BCHL Next Generation: Merritt Centennials

In the weeks leading up to the start of the 2021-22 regular season, we will be going team-by-team to profile new players coming in for the upcoming year. This will include recaps of offseason commitments and acquisitions, as well as scouting reports from the coaches.

Next up is the Merritt Centennials.

The Cents finished third in the Chilliwack Pod last year with a 3-17-0 record, but under new head coach Dave Chyzowski, they are looking to turn things around in 2021-22.

Part of that turnaround will fall on the shoulders of the crop of new talent that the team has brought in. We caught up with Chyzowski who gave us the scouting report on his team’s new recruits this year.

New recruits

Will Bowman (2002, D)

  • Hometown: Chicago, Ill.
  • Previous team: Deerfield Academy (USHS-Prep)

Bowman is the son of Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman and the grandson of the NHL’s winningest coach and 14-time Stanley Cup champion Scotty Bowman. He played the last two years at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts, suiting up for 30 games over his time there.

Chyzowski’s scouting report:

“Will is a stay-at-home defenceman. He’s mature beyond his years. I’ve had a lot of Zoom calls with him and he sounds like he could be my assistant coach as well in a few weeks. He has a great first pass. He’s hard to play against. He loves protecting his net and loves protecting his teammates. He’s defensive-minded. I think he’s going to fit in really well in the small building we have in Merritt. He’s an exciting new piece to our puzzle this year.”

Liam Davidson (2004, D)

  • Hometown: Trondheim, Norway
  • Previous team: Okanagan Rockets U18 AAA (BC U18)

A duel, Canadian-Norwegian citizen, Davidson was a member of the Rockets U18 team last year, but did not get into any game action due to COVID shutdowns. In 2019-20, he was the top-scoring defenceman on the Okanagan Hockey Academy Elite 15s team with 25 points in 33 games.

Chyzowski’s scouting report:

“He’s a hard-working hockey player who is relentless on loose pucks, but has an offensive side to him. He’s a puck-moving defenceman who is going to fit in well with a kid like Will [Bowman] who stays at home. He loves joining the rush. He skates really well. He’s not a big guy, but he’s talented and sees the ice really well.”

Sam Ward (2005, D)

  • Hometown: Kamloops, B.C.
  • Previous team: Delta Hockey Academy U16 Prep (CSSHL U16)

Ward is the brother of current Centennials forward Ben Ward, who is heading into his fourth year with the team. In a shortened 2020-21 season, he put up two goals and an assist in four games with Delta Academy. The year before, he played with West Van Academy’s Elite 15s team and had four points in 36 games.

Chyzowski’s scouting report:

“Sam is an absolute gem of a young defenceman. He comes from a hockey background. I like to compare him to Quinn Hughes. He was the best player on the ice as a 16-year-old at our Abbotsford identification camp and I couldn’t risk the potential of losing him next year, so we signed him and we’re excited about it. I know his mom and dad really well and they’re excited for the brothers to play together.”

Anton Sorensen (2002, F)

  • Hometown: Wheaton, Ill.
  • Previous team: Boston Jr. Bruins (NCDC)

Sorensen had four points in 11 total games with the Bruins last year. Prior to that, he spent the majority of his youth hockey with the Chicago Mission program.

Chyzowski’s scouting report:

Anton is a two-way forward whose hockey knowledge and IQ are off the charts. He’s always above the puck – always on the right side all the time. He is never behind the play. He comes from a hockey background. His dad is an assistant coach with the Chicago Blackhawks farm team and he grew up just playing and being around hockey guys his whole life. He has some friends that play in the league, so he’s really excited to come out and play in Merritt and be a part of our program.”

Davide Patella (2004, F)

  • Hometown: Laval, Que.
  • Previous team: Laval-Montréal Rousseau Royal (QMAAA)

Patella most recently played for Laval-Montréal in 2019-20 and finished with seven goals and seven assists for 14 points in 42 games.

Chyzowski’s scouting report:

“He’s a hard-nosed forward who loves playing physical. He’s not overly skilled, but he makes up for it with his work ethic, his ability to finish checks and create loose pucks. He’s a kid who wants to go play Division I hockey. He already has a bunch of schools all over him.”

Photo credit: Dan Hickling (Bowman, Sorensen, Patella)