Wednesday, 4 July 2012

A New Chapter and a Final Farewell

It's been a hectic week for my girlfriend and I, to say the least. Early last week, I was offered what I can honestly say is a "dream job" as the Director of Media Relations & Broadcasting for the Vancouver Giants, a team I grew up with and followed from their inaugural season. Going from the smallest market in the BCHL to the largest market in the WHL will be a massive adjustment, but it's something I couldn't possibly pass on.

So ever since I was given the news, I've been scrambling to get my life and priorities in order, before I officially start in my new role on July 16th. The apartment search is complete, the boxes are half packed and the loose ends are half-tied. Now I have just one week left to re-arrange everything I'll need to change before the move, finish packing and say my final good-byes.

I just want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to everyone that made these past 4 and a half years in Merritt the best of my life. As a big-city kid growing up, it was definitely a culture shock and a big adjustment coming to Merritt, but the city and the people grew on me quickly. Some of my best friendships were forged here, and I met a great girl I've been with for 2 and a half years in this town.

And of course, this is where it all started for me. Everybody needs that first big break to help them get started and ultimately realize their dreams. I got that in 2008 when I was finishing up my internship with BCIT, and former Cents broadcast Keegan Goodrich made a jump to Swift Current in my final days as an intern. So I have to thank Q101 station manager Elizabeth Laird and former Program Director Brian Wiebe (now with BCIT) for taking a chance on me and giving me that first opportunity that everybody craves. Without their faith in me, who knows where I'd be right now, or if I'd still even be in this industry.

My 4 and a half years in Merritt have been a great learning experience for me. I've made my mistakes and taken my punches, but going through it has been invaluable, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I want to sincerely thank everybody that has helped me through it all and supported me along the way. You know who you are. But whether you like me or my broadcast, if you listened, if you read my blog, I thank you. This industry is a lot of work (much of it behind the scenes) and we do it all with the hopes of an audience. So again, thank you.

As far as the Centennials themselves, this team will have a permanent place in my heart, and I will forever be a fan who keeps tabs from the sidelines. The Nicola Valley Memorial Arena is one of the coolest rinks I've seen in my life. It's got an aura about it that can't be matched, and the atmosphere that you fans created there during these past playoffs is something I'll always remember. I wish this franchise, its management, fans and volunteers nothing but the best for decades to come. GO CENTS GO!

Alex Grebenyuk

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Cents Central on Hiatus

You might have noticed that I haven't been active on the blog over the last month and a bit. With the season having wrapped up, my life has been occupied with other responsibilities, and so, even though I am keeping up with all the BCHL-related news, I don't have time to make extensive posts and analysis.

With that said, I am planning to do an off-season summary/wrap-up in late August, so that you are up-to-date with everything you need to know or might have missed before the 2012-2013 Centennials season begins. In the meantime, you can keep up with all the Centennials news on the official website: and/or on the Centennials facebook/twitter page.

Thanks very much to all the readers and supporters of the blog throughout the past season, and I'll talk to you again in August!

Alex Grebenyuk

Monday, 16 April 2012

Merritt Centennials 2011/2012 Season Tribute

After about 40 total hours of downloading pictures (courtesy of Ian Webster of the Merritt Herald), recording and editing audio, and then putting together the slide show to match the audio, this is the end result:

An audio-visual look-back at one of the greatest seasons in Merritt Centennial's franchise history. Enjoy!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

BCHL Showcase Date & Host Announced

April 12, 2012

For immediate release:

The British Columbia Hockey League is pleased to announce the Chilliwack Chiefs as the host franchise of the first-ever BCHL Showcase event, happening Sept. 7, 8 and 9 at Prospera Centre in Chilliwack.

The Showcase will bring all 16 BCHL teams to the Chiefs home rink for two games apiece that will count in the regular season standings. Similar events are held in other Junior A leagues and have proven effective at attracting interest from professional and college scouts which creates maximum exposure for players.

“Showcase events such as this are staged by other Leagues in North America and have proven to be hugely successful,” said BCHL commissioner John Grisdale, “We are extremely pleased that Chilliwack and the Chiefs will host our first one.”

The Chiefs rejoined the BCHL for the 2011-12 season after the Quesnel Millionaires franchise was purchased and relocated to the Fraser Valley. The Chiefs were welcomed back to the community and the club had some of the best attendance figures in the league.

“The support we saw in Chilliwack this past season was phenomenal,” said Grisdale. “Fan interest is a major reason we’re excited about the Chiefs hosting the Showcase and we know they’ll do a first-rate job in promoting and executing a successful event.”

The schedule of game matchups as well as ticket pricing and availability will be announced before the end of April. Chiefs president Glen Ringdal has also announced that Chiefs season ticket holders will be given first opportunity to select seats at reduced prices.

Details Released for the 1st Western Canada Cup

The British Columbia Hockey League and the Nanaimo Clippers are pleased to announce the schedule for the Western Canada Cup (WCC) being held at Frank Crane Arena in Nanaimo from April 26 to May 5, 2013.

With two teams from the WCC qualifying for the 2013 RBC Cup, an anticlimactic final – which would result from a traditional round-robin and playoff-style tournament – was avoided due to the unique format created by Clippers gameday operations manager Kyle Anderson through working with Clippers head coach Mike Vandekamp.

After researching dozens of past Junior A tournament formats, Anderson made a schedule that is fair for all five teams and ensures there is something on the line in each of the final three games of the event.

“I looked back on some past RBC Cups and there was always one team that had to play three days in a row and it was always the team that had the first day off,” noted Anderson. “We found a way to eliminate the chance of any team playing three days in a row by selectively scheduling those two dates where only one game is played.”

Also helping with the competitive balance of the WCC is that the first- and second-place teams after the round robin will then have to be defeated twice in the playoff round to be eliminated.

“In past RBC tournaments with #1 versus #4 and #2 versus #3, only 60 per cent of the time did the top-two teams out of the round robin actually face each other in the final,” said Anderson. “We felt it wasn’t fair, since we’re sending two teams, that a team could win less games and still go to the RBC Cup.”

The champion of the inaugural WCC will be determined in the #1 versus #2 game on Saturday, May 4th. The other game on Saturday will see the #3 and #4 placed teams in the tournament face-off. This game will have two highly motivated teams as the winner will face the loser of the #1 versus #2 game on Sunday, May 5th for the second berth to the RBC.

“We’ve created 13 meaningful games and we have three Game 7-type games in two days,” said Anderson. “The other bonus is the WCC winner has an extra day of rest before the RBC Cup.

“We look for this format to be the template for the WCC moving forward.”

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Cents Awards Night Caps a Memorable Season

Thursday night at the Legion, the Centennials celebrated one of the best seasons in franchise history by handing out some hardware and recognizing those players that will not be coming back.

Here is the list of winners on the night to go along with the accompanying pictures, provided kindly by Ian Webster of the "Merritt Herald":

Most Improved Player: Tyler Martin

Academic Scholar: Reece Willcox

Most Promising Player: Brendan Lamont

Most Game Winning Goals: Evan Stack

Leading Scorer: Regan Soquila

Best Plus-Minus: Chad Brears

Most Gentlemanly Player: Carter Shinkaruk

Rookie of the Year: Dylan Chanter

Best Defenceman: Reece Willcox

Joe Tennant Award - Most Dedicated Player: Billy Marshall

Unsung Hero: Lino Chimienti & Tyler Steel

Leadership & Ability: Brent Fletcher

Playoff MVP: Brent Fletcher

Most Valuable Player: Evan Stack
In addition to the player awards, Evan Stack, Billy Marshall and Richard Sabourin were recognized for their work at the Ska-Lu-La Workshop in Merritt.


I'd like to once again congratulate every player and coach, and everyone involved with the organization on a tremendous season that nobody will soon forget. It was easily the most enjoyable season from a broadcaster's perspective as well, so I felt the need to personally congratulate the team and thank a few people that maybe flew under the radar with their contributions.

Friday, 6 April 2012

"Meet the Cents" with Lino Chimienti

Sadly, this is the last installment of "Meet the Cents", and we wrap up with the Centennials graduating goaltender from Quebec. In one of the most fascinating and longest interviews, Lino is full of stories from his time in Quebec, including how he became a goaltender and his close relationship with Montreal Canadiens forward Louis Leblanc. But first, I had to ask about his unique last name and just how much announcers "love" it.

(Awards Night Pictures Coming Soon...)

*A big "thank you" goes out to Paul McLellan from SHAW TV for shooting these features all season long, and all the best to him in the future as he is leaving Merritt later this month. Also, thanks very much to all the players who were such great participants in this experiment over the past season.