Merritt Centennials – Hockey Night in Merritt
We watched the longest continuously run franchise in BCHL history
“Captain Crunch, started to shift momentum when he rushed the net for a lose puck and a melee occurred, a crowd gathered, some words were said, there was a shove here and push there.”
It was “Hockey Night in Merritt” for me as the Merritt Centennials (link to their website) in Merritt, British Columbia, Canada were about to take on their neighboring rivals from Salmon Arm, BC. I was stoked and ready to put my money where my mouth is starting with the purchase of 2 team hoodies. It is important to support community programs because if you do not support them you lose them to another community. No one wants that.
Merritt Centennials Rekindled Some Hockey History
It was my first time setting foot in a hockey arena in over 10 years. To some not a big deal. To a hockey fanatic like me who played on frozen ponds, who rushed to road hockey games at the local lacrosse box every day after school, who suited up and played rep hockey most of my life and then graduated to junior hockey… it is a big deal! The last time I stepped on the ice was as a coach of the Pee Wee and then Bantam AAA Rep Hockey Teams in the Edmonton Minor Hockey system.
Tonight Was About Hockey, Not Politics
Every hockey game, where ever you are, starts with the entrance to the hockey rink. Huh you may ask… what are you talking about? Here is what I mean. First impressions and feeling appreciated for attending can make or break any hockey experience. When I entered the rink I was greeted by name, with a smile and handshake by the Merritt Centennials President and former Merritt Mayor Neil Menard. I was impressed with his hospitality and full of gratitude for his welcoming gestures. So far I was feeling good about my hockey experience.
Hot On The Scent Of The Merritt Centennials
As I walked through the doors of the hockey rink the atmosphere and the smell hit me like a ton of bricks. It is not a bad smell by any means. It is a hockey rink smell. Every hockey player, hockey mom, hockey dad, hockey fan knows what I am talking about. A community hockey rink has a smell of its own, a distinct smell, and when you grow up in the hockey world you recognize it no matter how long you have been away from the rink.
But that is not the only scent I was seeking out. Not by a long shot! I skipped my dinner prior to the game so I could rekindle my love affair with the “rink dog”. To you newbies a rink dog is just a hockey word for hot dog. A hot dog at a hockey game conjures up many memories that go way back. When one combines the smell of a hockey rink with the atmosphere and the warm scent of a rink dog it is like stepping through the pearly-gates (or goal posts) of hockey heaven. For the fan it is like the pregame ritual in preparation for the game.
The Merritt Centennials Coach is Coaching
The puck drops and the game is on. However, the script had flipped and the home team was down 2-0 to the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in the first period. The crowd was silenced and some were stunned including myself. This was suppose to be a top team in the league this year? How can they be down on the score clock so fast?
The Merritt Centennial players came stumbling out of the gate slowly. They seem to have lost their legs on this night. Was I a jinx? I am not sure if it was just me, or my inner coach talking, but they were turning the puck over in their own zone at an alarming rate and their wingers were clearing the zone too quickly. Whats up boys?
Merritt Centennials Flicked The Switch
The Merritt Centennials were a better skating team but their execution was off and something was not clicking. It seemed the coach, being a good coach and having a feeling about his team, called a time out. As it turned out it was a good move. The real Merritt Centennials began to play. Now the score was 2-2 and it was game on! Nice call Coach Martin!
To be a contender you have to have a coach who knows his team on and off the ice. He knows which buttons to push and the when and where to push them. To be a good team its best players have to be its best players game in, and game out. A team cannot be a good team living on the backs of its best players alone either. Never happens, just look at the Edmonton Oilers. A supporting cast down the line up, an aware coaching staff and caring trainers are all crucial to a teams success. Everybody needs to be in sync.
Captain Crunch To The Rescue
Nic Wicks #9, the captain of the Merritt Centennials, came to play. Lets call him “Captain Crunch” and here is why. After the pep talk handed down by his coach the ice become slanted in favor of Merritt. Good timing too, because the team had dug themselves into a hole.
The captain of the Merritt Centennials, Captain Crunch, started to shift momentum when he rushed the net for a lose puck and a melee occurred, a crowd gathered, some words were said, there was a shove here and push there. No worries for Merritt but maybe for Salmon Arm as the melee flicked on the light switch for #9.
From the result of the final score it is probably best the Salmon Arm Silverbacks do not poke the bear anymore because they woke up “Captain Crunch” in a big way. First there was one goal by “Captain Crunch”, then another and then the hat trick. The crowd went wild! The captain of the team, came through in the crunch hence the nickname “Captain Crunch”. Hockey is full of nicknames, so what harm is another one. Maybe it will stick!
We Win With Hockey
The game ended in a 5 -2 score in favor of the Merritt Centennials. The team started the night playing as individuals and finished the night clawing back as a team. There are many lessons one can take from watching a hockey game – the “ebs and flows” has teaching moments. There are many life skills one can learn from playing hockey including teamwork, hard work, determination, conviction, dedication, discipline and more.
Sadly to say, not all the players on the Merritt Centennials will take the next step to the next level of hockey greatness. However, many of the players will take the next step in the game of life and walk away from Canada’s great game with some very powerful life lessons which will come in handy as they continue to grow as men.
Great win. Thanks for the entertainment and I cannot wait till the next game.
Merritt Centennials – Hockey Night in Merritt
Greg is a celebrated public speaker and tourism consultant working with communities in developing effective and economical online tourism marketing strategies.