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Cents hire Brian Passmore as head coach and assistant general manager

Brian Passmore was hired as head coach and assistant general manager of the Merritt Centennials on Wednesday, signing a three-year contract with the BCHL’s longest continuously-run franchise.

The 43-year-old was head coach of the Kerry Park Islanders of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League this past season. He joined the Islanders in November after Kevin Fitzpatrick stepped down from the role. In 24 games with Kerry Park, Passmore went 14-8-2 and qualified for the VIJHL playoffs.

Passmore has BCHL experience as head coach of the Cowichan Valley Capitals for two-and-a-half seasons from 2020-23, going 27-55-8-1 in 91 games. He led Cowichan to a playoff spot in 2022. Prior to this stint with the Caps, he spent two seasons as head coach of the South Island Royals U18 team in the BC Elite Hockey League.

He was also head coach in Cowichan Valley in 2017-18 after spending two seasons at Shawnigan Lake School in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League. He was head coach of the U15 team from 2015-17 and assistant coach for the U18 squad in 2015-16.

The Mississauga, Ont. product was a head coach in the VIJHL from 2013-15, first with the Peninsula Panthers and then the Westshore Wolves. Passmore got his start as a junior hockey coach as an assistant for the Panthers during the 2012-13 season.

The Centennials went 12-37-3-2 this season, finishing 18 points behind the Trail Smoke Eaters for the final berth in the Fred Page Cup playoffs from the Interior Conference. It was the third straight time the Cents failed to make the playoffs.

Merritt went 3-17-0-0 in its last 20 games of the season while being outscored 147-42. The Centennials let head coach and general manager Curtis Toneff go on April 26 and the team was 14-64-4-4 overall during his one-and-a-half-season tenure. The 29-year-old from Nanaimo, B.C. took over when the Centennials let Dave Chyzowski go in late December 2021.

As a player, Passmore was selected by the Minnesota Wild in the seventh round, 199th overall, at the 2000 NHL Draft. He had a six-year pro career that saw him spend parts of four seasons in the ECHL and one-and-a-half seasons in Europe. Passmore’s final pro season was 2008-09 when he posted 17 goals and 44 points in 58 games with the Oklahoma City Blazers of the Central Hockey League.

Passmore played his junior career with the Plymouth Whalers, Oshawa Generals, and Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League, finishing with 171 points in 243 games over the course of four seasons. The Whalers chose him in the fifth round, 84th overall, in the 1997 in the OHL Priority Selection. He played junior A hockey in 1996-97 with the North York Rangers of the Metro Junior A Hockey League in Ontario.