The Centennials franchise was founded in 1961 as the Kamloops Rockets, competing in the upstart Okanagan (Mainline) Junior ‘A’ Hockey League. When the Vancouver Nats of the Western Canada Hockey League relocated to Kamloops in the summer of 11973, the team then relocated to White Rock and was renamed the Centennials. In November of 1973, the White Rock Centennials Struggled on the ice and at the gate despite top scorers like Fred Berry and Darrel Zelinski. Then, the decision was made to move the team to the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena in Merritt.
Following the move in January of 1974, a group of Merritt businessmen Jim Flux, Len Pare, Bill Pooley, Harold Pooley, John Mulvey and Don Dewinetz formed Merritt Hockey Limited giving the Centennials their first local ownership group.
The Merritt Centennials Hockey Club is the longest continuously operating franchise in the BCHL, proudly celebrating our 50th Anniversary Season in 2022-2023. Over the past fifty years, the Centennials have continued to provide residents of the Nicola Valley with junior hockey at its finest. Junior hockey will likely continue to survive and further thrive as long as strong community support exists.
The 1977-78 season represents the most significant in Centennials history as the team experienced achievements yet to be matched. The Cents rocketed to the top of the BCJHL standings, finishing with a record of 50-15-1 and 101 points. Merritt racked up an astonishing 489 goals that season, led by six different players with 90 points or more.
Once the BCJHL playoffs rolled around, the Centennials were nowhere to be found. Opting to return to the Centennial Cup Junior “A” playoffs, the league decided that Merritt would represent them. While the rest of the BCJHL teams competed the regular playoffs, the Centennials first faced the Pacific Coast Junior Hockey League’s Richmond Sockeyes for the Mowat Cup provincial championship. Merritt swept the best of five series 3-0 and advanced to the BC-Alberta Junior “A” Championship against the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Calgary Canucks. The Centennials swept them aside in six games.The Cinderella run came to an end in the Abbott Cup Championship against the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Prince Albert Raiders as they beat the Centennials 4 games to 1.
In 2011-12, the Centennials set a new franchise mark for fewest goals against in a season with 171 goals-allowed, breaking the previous record from 1978-79 by five.
In 2016-17, the Centennials became the first team in Canadian Junior Hockey League history to sweep a defending a RBC National Championship team.
Since joining the BCHL in 1973-74, Merritt has advanced to the playoffs 35 times.