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BCHL’s Merritt Centennials May Be Gone, But They Are Now A KIJHL Expansion Team

Merritt (KIJHL) – Well THAT didn’t take long ! Literally after the BCHL Centennials announced they would cease operations in the BCHL …….

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League announced Sunday that an expansion franchise has been awarded to the community of Merritt, BC. The club will continue to be known as the Centennials and will begin play for the 2024/25 season.

Merritt’s expansion application was approved unanimously by the KIJHL’s Board of Governors, and will see the longstanding Junior A club move from community to private ownership under the leadership of Brad Anstey and Daniel Schofield. The team will join the Bill Ohlhausen division, taking the place of the Summerland Steam following that franchise’s relocation to Williams Lake.

“The Centennials have a rich history and this year celebrated their 51st consecutive season of continuous junior hockey in the City of Merritt,” says KIJHL commissioner Jeff Dubois. “Brad and Daniel have a great vision for a successful and sustainable KIJHL franchise, and our Board of Governors was thrilled to see the tremendous support that exists within the community for a transition to our league.”

“Our ownership group is excited to keep the Merritt Centennials hockey in the community with its most dedicated fans, sponsors, alumni, and volunteers,” says Brad Anstey. “We guarantee our commitment to grow the Centennials brand while building a competitive team with the best of sporting cultures. We are proud to become a member of a league that provides development opportunities for local and provincial players to continue to pursue their hockey goals and dreams. We thank the City of Merritt and the KIJHL for this opportunity.”

The Centennials will continue to play out of the 1,000-seat Nicola Valley Memorial Arena, with the team’s ownership group having secured a new five-year lease agreement for the facility.

“The City of Merritt is very excited to embark on a new journey in the history of the Merritt Centennials hockey club,” says Merritt mayor Michael Goetz. “The 2024-25 season looks to hold a whole new and exciting team as well as new opponents that we have not seen in the Valley before. We are very pleased to see the Centennials become part of the KIJHL and we have signed a long-term lease to make sure this new brand of hockey stays and grows in Merritt. We continue to see one of the longest-running Junior Hockey franchises secure its position for years to come, and we also welcome the new owners and appreciate their investment in keeping Merritt as one of the top hockey cities in B.C. Welcome to Merritt and we look forward to dropping the puck on a new season.”

Centennials fans should expect a number of immediate rivalries to develop, with the Kamloops Storm, Princeton Posse, Kelowna Chiefs and Chase Heat all located less than 90 minutes from Merritt.

Further details regarding the Centennials franchise, including season ticket information, spring camp dates and locations, and staffing announcements will be announced in the coming weeks.

2024 KIJHL Merritt March 31

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