The Merritt Centennials are proud to announce the commitment of defender Joe Fleming (03) from the Boston Junior Eagles program for next season.
Fleming, a hulking, right-handed defenseman from Wellesley, Massachusetts brings size at 6’2, 217 pounds, a high hockey IQ, some offensive flair, and some solid athletic pedigree to the Centennials. Last year, Fleming played in prep school with Proctor Academy where he had 2 goals and 4 assists in 28 games played. This season he opted to play closer to home with the Northern Cyclones of the NCDC and the Wings where he scored 2 goals and 1 assist across 15 games. Fleming was drafted to the Gatineau Olympiques in the 2nd round of the QMJHL draft in 2019.
Head Coach Derek Sweet Coulter says that Fleming has grown up around great athletes and will slot right in to the Centennials D core.
“Joe comes from a great sports family and understands the importance of being a good teammate and playing hard for the organization. He will take pride in being a Centennial and serving our community. Joe is a big powerful defenseman that will lead the rush at times and is involved offensively. He plays with an edge and has tremendous IQ at both ends of the ice. We feel Joe is a great fit for our program and will make an impact right away.”
Fleming says that he was drawn to the Centennials because of the culture that’s building in Merritt.
“Playing in the BCHL is a chance to play in arguably the best junior league in North America. They produce many Division 1 players and NHL Draft Picks. What set the Centennials apart to me were my conversations with Coach Coulter whose main focus is on the culture and character and community of the team. This to me was most important because of the way i was raised. I believe in what Coach Coulter is building in Merritt. This type of culture is contagious not only to the team but the community.”
When asked about his style of play, Fleming says that he doesn’t shy away from the small battles, but can also chip in offensively.
“I really enjoy the physical aspect of the game, winning one on one battles in the corners, blocking shots which is an underrated part of the game that I take great pride in. I also feel like I play my best against the other team’s top line. I like to jump in the rush and lead the rush from the defensive end as well.”
Despite all the hardships this year with COVID, Fleming decided to go back to his roots and play U18 AAA in his home town.
“This year I chose not to go back to prep school and played U18 Midget hockey. At our local ice rink, I skated multiple hours per day and I was able to have a consistent workout schedule on and off the ice as well as do my online schooling. COVID has been difficult for everyone and I feel fotunate I was able to continue to skate and workout as much as I have.”
Along with all the hockey skills, he also coming from an athletic family. His father, Joe Fleming Sr, was a St. Louis Blues draft pick in 1990 but went on to play professional football in the NFL and CFL, winning a Grey Cup with the BC Lions in 2001. His mother was a 4-year college soccer athlete and is in the Assumption University hall of fame. His sister currently plays D1 College Hockey at Sacred Heart University.
“I lived in Canada during my childhood while my father played in the CFL. My father and mother always talk about what a special role Canada played in our lives and our youth. My oldest sister Maddie was born in Calgary. My father’s experience in pro sports has taught me that perseverance and hard work is the key to success as a person and a player. Much of what Coach Coulter spoke about with the organization reeminded me of the lessons my parents have instilled in me and my sisters.”
The Cents look forward to welcoming Joe and his family to the team and the Nicola Valley, and look forward to his contributions on and off the ice.