The latest BCHL-groomed talent to earn an opportunity at the next level in the hockey world is now-former Merritt Centennials head coach and general manager Luke Pierce, who was announced Monday as the next bench boss of the WHL’s Kootenay Ice.
Pierce, 31, joined the Centennials for the 2009-10 season as an assistant but was promoted to the head coach/GM role in November of that year. The hometown Merritt native spent the rest of that season, and the subsequent five campaigns, running the Cents. His teams qualified for the postseason each year he was with the club.
“I feel very fortunate to have been the head coach of my hometown team and want to thank all of the Centennials fans, volunteers and partners for their support,” said Pierce. “I especially want to thank (Centennials director of hockey operations) Brian Barrett for his role in helping me grow as a coach and for his constant belief in me. I consider him a great friend and an invaluable mentor.
“I also want to thank all my previous players in Merritt who have dedicated themselves to helping grow the program and pushing me to be a better coach. I wish them all the best in their future endeavours.”
Pierce was named BCHL Coach of the Year in 2013 and he was an assistant coach with Team Canada West at the 2014 World Junior A Challenge.
“The BCHL is all about developing players and coaches for opportunities at higher levels,” said BCHL commissioner John Grisdale. “I’m proud of the quality of coaches we have in our league and Luke is one that has shown he is deserving of this chance. I wish Luke, his wife Amy and their three boys all the best as they make this transition.”
As a player, Pierce spent three seasons in the BCHL – two with Merritt and another with the Vernon Vipers. He went on to a five-year university hockey career at Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont.