(This article was originally published on Nov. 11, 2020.)
Merritt Centennials franchise history is dotted with outstanding offensive performances. Whether it was the likes of Darrell Zelinski and Ken Stroud tearing it up in the 70s, Brent Demerais and Pat Ryan dominating in the 80s, Joe Rybar and Bill Muckalt piling up points in the 90s, or Casey Pierro-Zabotel and Brandon Wong in the 00s.
For one reason or another, the years between 2010 and 2019 didn’t feature any eye-popping offensive numbers for the Centennials. However, there is one season that stands out as the best in the last decade.
In 2015-16, Cents forward Colin Grannary posted 28 goals and 48 assists in 55 games to finish ninth overall in BC Hockey League scoring. Grannary’s 76 points stand as the 49th best single-season point total in Centennials’ franchise history, but he undoubtedly left his mark as one of the best players to come out of Merritt in this millennium.
The Delta, BC product showed a solid scoring touch during his first taste in junior hockey as an affiliate player with his hometown Ice Hawks of the Pacific Junior Hockey League.
It was 2013-14 and Grannary was in the midst of his 16-year-old season where he averaged nearly two points per game with Delta Hockey Academy U18 Wild in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League. He finished third in league scoring with 52 points in 27 games, including 25 goals.
He played eight games as an AP with the Ice Hawks before Christmas in 2013 and scored five goals and three assists, including four goals in his first three games. Grannary was also named the first star on three occasions, and second and third star once. It’s a performance that is almost unheard of as an affiliate.
Team Red's offence was highlighted by a goal and an assist from Colin Grannary, while three assists came from Braden Fuller.
— Merritt Centennials (@BCHLCentennials) August 31, 2014
His play caught the attention of the Centennials coaches Luke Pierce and Joe Martin, and Grannary attended the team’s main camp in 2014.
Grannary finds his footing
As a rookie in 2014-15, Grannary didn’t record his first BCHL point until his sixth game and didn’t score his first junior A goal until October 31 when he tallied and added an assist in a 7-5 loss in Trail. It was a sign of things to come because he followed up with a three-point night just over a week later and finished the season with a very respectable 19 goals and 20 assists in 55 games.
On a team loaded with skilled veterans like Gavin Gould, Michael Ederer, and Diego Cuglietta, Grannary didn’t face the pressure of having to be one of the Centennials’ top producers. His 39 points put him first in scoring among Merritt’s freshmen, six points ahead of Josh Teves, who is currently under contract to the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. Grannary also tied for the team lead in game-winning-goals that season.
Heading into the 2015-16 season, 18-year-old Grannary and third-year forward Gavin Gould faced a lot of pressure to shoulder the offensive load for the Centennials. The pair entered the year as Merritt’s two highest-scoring returning players.
Grannary was held pointless in the Centennials season opener, a 6-4 loss in West Kelowna. But he exploded for a goal and two assists in Merritt’s home opener the next night as the Cents exacted revenge over the Warriors with a 5-4 win. One of Grannary’s assists came on Gould’s third period game-winner. It would be the first of 23 multi-point games on the season.
The three point effort in game two of the season started a five-game point streak that featured nine points on five goals and four assists.
Five-point night a sign of things to come
Although his first point streak was snapped on September 25 in a 6-0 shutout by Nanaimo, Grannary put up a career-high five points in a 9-1 shellacking of West Kelowna in the Centennials’ next game.
What followed was the coldest streak of the season which saw Grannary post a lone assist in eight games over three weeks.
He got back on the scoresheet with a goal and an assist in a 5-4 overtime loss at home against the Trail Smoke Eaters that kicked off a string of eight points in five games, including two multi-point outings.
A pointless game on November 7 was the last time Grannary’s name didn’t appear on the scoresheet as over the next seven games, he posted 11 points on five goals and six assists.
When the calendar flipped to December 2015, Grannary began to compile one of the hottest streaks in the BCHL. It started with a primary assist on a goal by Gould in a 5-3 loss against Penticton and ended 75 days later in a road game in Alberni Valley, with just two weeks left in the regular season.
The streak included 13 multi-point games, including one four-point game and a trio of three-point games. All told, Grannary posted 11 goals and 29 assists in 22 games during the stretch.
After going pointless against the Bulldogs on Valentine’s Day 2016, he notched an assist in each of the Centennials’ final two regular season games to wrap the year with 28 goals and 48 assists for 76 points in 55 games. Grannary’s total was 22 points more than Merritt’s second-leading scorer Nick Jermain, who finished with 54 points.
A worthy place among greats
Unfortunately for the Centennials, Grannary’s efforts were unable to power the team to a playoff spot. Merritt wound up tied in points with the Vipers but the final berth in Interior Division for the Fred Page Cup tournament went to Vernon by virtue of it having more wins.
After the season, Grannary was feted at the Centennials’ awards gala by being named most valuable player and started his NCAA career the following September at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
It’s an award claimed in the past by Stroud, Demerais, Wong, and Pierro-Zabotel and solidifies Grannary’s name among the best to ever wear a Cents jersey.