Friday, December 28, 2007

Game 37: Nanaimo at Trail

The Smokies are back in action after their holiday break. What better way to come back to action than by taking on the top team in the BCHL and one of the top Jr. A teams in all of Canada? Should be fun to watch.

The Smoke Eaters are wearing their third jerseys tonight. Really sharp looking jerseys sponsored by Home Goods. They're going to wear them for a few games this year and put them up for auction on the internet. You have the chance to own some game worn Smokies jerseys, and I'll have the details on here and on Mountain FM when those auctions are posted. Keep an eye out on the Smokies official website.

Don't forget to join us at Rave's for the post-game show tonight at the Waneta Plaza in Trail. If you can't make it you can listen live on Mountain FM.

Friday, December 28th, 2007: Trail Smoke Eaters (15-16-1-4) at Nanaimo Clippers (28-6-0-3)

(Click here for boxscore)

I had a chance to talk to the play by play guy for Nanaimo before the game on Overtime. Dan Marshall is a class act and one easy guy to interview. Sure knows his hockey. Also, ask him to do his Bob Cole for you sometime.

Also got to talk a bit to Brett Corcoran on both of our flights home. I can really tel he's motivated to have a strong last 20+ games here. Corcoran has been on fire since Arduin was traded. He saw a chance to step up as the team's top scorer and sure has got the job done. Lets hope that continues for him as we head into what will be a really tough January full of long road trips.

Trail has lost a few games in a row now, but the last two were in double overtime. While lots of people say "a loss is a loss" I say that we saw very entertaining hockey games that anyone could have won. That's what we want to see as hockey fans and it's hard to complain when you see the kind of hockey we've seen recently. The Smokies are showing a great work ethic lately and I really hope it continues. Talking to Jim Ingram lately you really get a sense that he's trying to create a certain identity for this team under him. Ingram loves hard working two-way players who play a team game and who love to be here. Sounds simple enough, but as he told me last night... if a guy really wants to be here he'll play harder for you and he'll give the program a good name in hockey circles.

Decosse makes his return to the line-up again tonight. He's been injured for a couple of extended periods this year and the Smokies very much miss him when he's gone. Decosse is one of if not the best cycle players in this league. He can really protect the puck and moves it very well. The PP will surely benefit from his return. Lets just all hope that he can stay healthy. He deserves a chance to make a last big run in his 20 year old season.

Tough games this weekend. Nanaimo tonight and Salmon Arm tomorrow. Should have great crowds as friends and family are home for the holiday season. Rink is looking fuller than usual tonight for sure. I hope it's even better tomorrow.


...My colleague Kristen from Mountain FM was just telling me she's never seen this much fight from the Smokies in all the games she's seen. Hard to disagree with the results we've seen so far in this game. August Aiken opened the scoring on the PP with a big goal in front of his friends and family in the stands here tonight visiting from California. That's nice motivation for August and so far a good result in front of them. The Smokies then killed off a couple of penalties and team agitator Brad Davis got under the skin of Nanaimo's goaltender Michael Garman before Jason Beattie stepped in and they had a good tilt. Limbert had a breakaway after a penalty kill but was denied. Patrick Martin then put the Smokies up 2-0. A nice crowd out there tonight for the Rossland native and he makes good in front of the net on a play set up by Corcoran and Geerin. That's another point for Geerin who now has 3 in 4 games for Trail. He didn't get advertised as an offensive presence but he sure has been. Looks good on the PP as well.

...Trail is taking too many penalties in this period. Nanaimo's PP is deadly and they are going to convert one of these chances if they keep getting them. The Clippers are now in the midst of their 4th PP of the first period and there are still 3 minutes left. That's one thing Dan Marshall told me before the game, you have to stay out of the box against Nanaimo. Not surprising with that much fire power in their line-up. They just killed that one off, so a good job by the penalty killers for Trail in the first. Can't be in the box that often though! Great start so far. 2-0 and the period is almost over.

...Scary situation there as Cam Brodie was down in the corner of the Smokies zone for long enough that they ended the period over and will carry over the last 52 seconds of the first into the second period. Brodie was eventually helped to the dressing room while still on his skates. No stretcher needed so we're all hoping it's nothing serious, but it sure didn't look good. I was not in a good position to see what happened so I can't speculate on what kind of injury it was. I can tell you that if Cam Brodie is out of the line-up the Smoke Eaters have a giant hole to fill.

...Official word on the goals has the first one by Aiken from Warner and Kinnebrew. The second one was Martin from Corcoran and Geerin. There might be a mistake on that one though. The assist may go to Aiken instead, who looks very motivated playing in from of his family here tonight. Trail is getting the job done so far. Rollheiser with 14 saves in the period while the Smokies took 11 shots. Outshot but not by much.

...Brett Corcoran does it again! He continues to step up as the top goal scorer for the Smokies. Shade and Limbert get the assists on another PP marker for Trail. This officially comes in the first period as they just played the last 52 seconds of it after the intermission. That's the 20th of the year for Corcoran. 3-0 Smokies over the Clippers! Still a long way to go.

...Nanaimo controls the play in the second period. 13-5 shots on goal in favour of hte Clippers and after all those chances on the power play they finall converted. It was just at th eend of a 5-3 when former Team Canada West member Chad Ziegler scored his second BCHL goal from Andrew Cherniwchan and Brodie Zuk. Only 55 seconds in the third period the Clippers made it 3-2 for Trail. Mikeal Bedard got that one from Kevin Noble. You can feel the momentum shifting here. Trail is going to have to work really hard to hold on to this lead. It's 3-2 with lots of time left in the third. Kevin Limbert has had two glorious chances he just couldn't put in. One on a breakaway and another on a nice pass in front. A great chance for Paul Mailey here in the third as well that he just missed. In the second period Rollheiser stopped a penalty shot and has overall been very strong and consistent for Trail today. Lots of time left and the Smokies will try and hold on!

...Clippers with several more good chances and Ingram calls a time out with 11:23 left. He's trying to calm the guys down as they are feeling the pressure from the league's top team. We'll see if the time out works.

...August Aiken with a giant goal in the last minute to ice this game. Man he's fast when he turns on the jets. Smokies hold on for a win over the Clippers. Great game.

Kevin Limbert to Yale

First of all, I hope you all had a very happy holiday season. I've been pretty inactive because I got the chance to head home for Christmas. Home for me is Ottawa so that is kind of an all consuming trip. It was wonderful to see friends and family, but I'm looking forward to getting back at it!

What a way to come back from the break. Nanaimo is in town and the Captain is heading to Yale. Here's the release from the BCHL website.
The Trail Smoke Eaters Hockey Club is pleased to announce that team captain
Kevin Limbert has accepted a scolarship to Yale University in New Haven,
Connecticut. The fiesty Fruitvale native is enjoying his fourth season with the
Smoke Eaters and is currently leading the team with 36 points in 36 games played
including 13 goals.

"It's great to see a player that has been working hard his whole life
get rewarded with an education at such a prestigious school," said coach Jim
Ingram. "Kevin is a product of local minor hockey and junior hockey working
together to develop homegrown talent and help that talent realize their
potential. Kevin's commitment to our hockey club has been second to none, Yale
is not only getting a great hockey player, but an incredible young man."
I wonder how many people at Yale have heard of Fruitvale, BC. What a great achievement for the Smokies Captain. He is routinely referred to as one of the hardest working players in the entire league. That hard work has earned him a fantastic opportunity. Even if Limbert doesn't end up playing pro hockey, an education from Yale will be a gigantic step forward towards a successful life.

On Overtime, Limbert told me that he'll probably end up majoring in some kind of engineering. Hey, maybe he'll end up back in Trail at Cominco! He also credited his home schooling with some of the success he's had academically. To me this kind of opportunity is an example for all players looking at the option of going to school through hockey. You have to keep your grades up because you never know what could happen. You could end up in an Ivy League school getting the best possible education. That's a great accomplishment for the BCHL, the Trail Smoke Eaters and most of all for Kevin Limbert himself.

Don't forget the big hockey games this weekend. Nanaimo tonight at 7:30 and Salmon Arm tomorrow at 7:30. Trail is going to be on the road a lot in January, so see them while you can!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Homer? Stick to the line drive.

(Here's a link to the highlites of last night's broadcast of AM Ford Trail Smoke Eaters Hockey on Mountain FM:


In the case of the college announcer, that audience is familiar with, and very interested in the success of, the team you’re following. You should, however, always treat the game and the team with respect, and with the eye of an impartial observer."

Play by play broadcasters are always called out for favouring certain players or teams. I have a vivid memory of my dad absolutely blasting Bob Cole when I used to sit with him and watch Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday nights. Oh the days of Todd Gill and Alan Bester on the Ballard Maple Leafs. Dad's a die hard Leaf fan, and for years used to tell me that it's clear Cole couldn't stand the Leafs.

Tell that to an Ottawa Senators fan. They even had newspaper articles in Ottawa about the blatant and obvious bias Bob Cole apparently showed in favour of Toronto. Cole kind of encouraged that at first by often forgetting the name of certain Ottawa players. He sure seemed to like the Senators during last year's playoff run though! I also remember Edmonton Oiler fans complaining that Cole appeared to be cheering for Anaheim (and especially Perry) in the 2006 Western Finals. Cole always denied any kind of bias. He would never (that I could tell) admit who his favourite team was. He was born in the Maritimes so there was no obvious choice for him.

I don't think I've seen any announcer take more criticism on a national level than the legendary CBC broadcaster. He certainly has his moments. There were times I remember wondering why Cole said a puck hit the post when it missed the net... or why he said it was out of play when it was still bouncing around in the zone... but then I started doing it myself and I realized as fast as hockey is, you do sometimes miss things. You often miss things. You've just got to do your best to follow along.

I've listened to Cole call a lot of games and the only time to me that his bias is really obvious is when he calls games for Canada. That makes sense, it's easier to get wrapped up in something when you're watching a team that represents your country. I don't think the guy is perfect. He may be a bit slower in following the play than he used to be. However, I think Cole has that job for a reason. He's a legend, he has an iconic voice, and he knows how to convey the excitement of a big moment in the game.

Cole's case is a funny one though. Since he is a national broadcaster he's faced accusations of bias for and against pretty much every team in Canada. I don't know if there's a fan base across the country that hasn't accused him of not caring about or actively cheering against their team.

Fans are passionate. That's why when a ref makes a call against the home team, no matter how obvious a call it was, there are going to be boos and cat calls. I've been reading hockey message boards as long as they've existed (and posting... which can get me into a bit of trouble sometimes, eh?) and us broadcasters are as big a target as any at times. Even the most blatant homer broadcasters get called out for not supporting their teams enough. On the other hand, the most impartial and professional guys are called out for being homers by their fans and the fans of other teams. Some fans love that a guy keeps an even keel and mock the guy who gets really excited. Other fans prefer the enthusiasm and can't stand if someone doesn't dial it up in big moments.

You can't please everyone.

This of course stems from a few comments in the previous blog entry about my level of enthusiasm for opponents of the Trail Smoke Eaters. One anonymous blogger saying that when the Smokies have opportunities it seems like it's "water off a duck's back" to me. You can listen to the calls yourself and take from that what you will. At times I think I've been a little over excited and sound kind of silly. I remember someone chiding me for my call of the Aiken game winner against Penticton... saying they thought I was going to break their windows. I try to tell myself to keep things a little bit calmer, but I can't help it. I love this sport, and when you're watching a great game or exciting play it's hard not to get a little carried away with the emotion in your voice.

I don't know what my goal calls would sound like if I was more enthusiastic about the Smoke Eaters. I'm not sure they'd be comprehensible.

As for my support or enthusiasm for the "other guys" in the picture...

I've always believed that announcers should try to call the game down the middle. I had the NHL and OHL packages on my TV in Owen Sound, so I watched a lot of hockey games in that time. One after another I'd listen to home broadcasters who sounded like they were having a heart attack when their teams scored, but they might as well have been dead when the other guys scored. In my opinion that sounds unprofessional and boring.

When I got the chance to be a play by play broadcaster I always said to myself that I would be different. I wouldn't cheer for the team I was covering. I wouldn't ignore the names and the stories of the opposing team. I wouldn't say the refs made a bad call anytime the team I'm covering was sent to the box. I would be as enthusiastic as I could for everything that was happening on the ice when enthusiasm was warranted.

Doesn't mean I accomplished that, though.

I underestimated how much you grow to like the guys on a team you're covering. I don't know if it's just the group of players and staff on this team or if it would be like this with anyone... but I want the Trail Smoke Eaters to succeed. Game in and game out I find myself hoping for a Trail victory, hoping the guys I know make good plays and don't screw up, hoping the coaches I know get victories they can be proud of, hoping the executive and fans that I know get the kind of success they deserve.

As a result, I do find myself giving Trail goals a bigger response and a more enthusiastic call. I do find myself pumping my fist and cheering when I'm watching a home game and doing Overtime live at the rink. I do know and care more about the Smokies players and coaches than I do about the other teams. It's inevitable.

When I'm critical of the team or enthusiastic for the opposition it's not because I have a problem with the Smoke Eaters, it's because I'm trying to do my job the way that I believe it should be done. I want to be more interactive with online fans than announcers generally are. I want to bring enthusiasm to all aspects of a game and to both sides of a game. I'm trying to paint a picture of what's happening for fans who can't be at the games. If a play is an exciting play I think that excitement should be evident in my voice. If a play is a good play or a lousy play I think the listener and home should be able to get a sense of that. If my call is completely one sided, I believe it's actually doing a poor job of conveying what is happening.

On top of that, I do have to be aware that parents and fans of the opposing teams often end up stuck with my calls of the game when the Smokies are on the road. Some teams (like Trail) don't have broadcasts of their home games. Fans on the internet have to listen to the road team's broadcast. I hope for those fans, parents, staff, players... that I'm able to do a decent enough job that they don't feel ripped off every time they end up with my broadcast. I know some of the Smokies parents have told me they sometimes get frustrated when they don't get my call on the internet feed and don't know how their kids are doing. We all try our best to give the other teams a fair shake, but it's hard to keep track of it all. I'm not going to know nearly as much about the other team team as their guy would, but I'm going to try to give them as balanced a game as I can.

There's a school of thought that the "home" announcer should always favour the home team to a great extent. Some fans expressed that opinion in yesterday's blog. That's absolutely a justifiable opinion and they have every right to believe that. I just disagree. Maybe if I was an employee of the Smokies themselves. Often play by play guys will work for the team and have some kind of PR or management role on top of their broadcasting gig. In that case I guess it would be reasonable to ask them to give a more favourable call. I still think listeners are better served by balance.

That being said, rip away. Negative feedback is better than no feedback. I'm glad people are listening even if they have complaints. (*note* I originally used "bad" as the describer here, but as pointed out by a comment that wasn't really the right word.)

Don't forget, the Smoke Eaters are at home against Westside on Tuesday. Sounds like David Arduin may be hurt and unable to play in that game. That's disappointing for a lot of Arduin fans in Trail hoping to see him on Tuesday. However, it should give the Smokies a better chance to win. I just hope Arduin will be back in their line-up sooner rather than later.

Also my best wishes to Logan Proulx and Stef Decosse who are both still out with injuries for Trail. Hope they're both closer to being back after the holidays. I know that's the plan for Decosse. Everyone's hearts are also still with #23 and we know he'll be back.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Game 35: Trail Smoke Eaters at Vernon Vipers

Sorry for no update yesterday, I couldn't get my computer online so I ended up doing the entire Overtime show on the cell phone. Don't have a lot of time to update today either. Smokies played well for most of yesterday's game, but a couple of key mistakes cost them and their come back was just a little too late. Exciting finish!

Saturday, December 15th, 2007: Trail Smoke Eaters (15-16-1-2) at Vernon Vipers (20-13-1-2)

(Click here for boxscore)

Decosse is out of the line-up again today. Looks like he came back a little too early from injury so they're not going to take any chances. He'll be shut down for today and Tuesday so he can come back at 100% after Christmas. They'll need him down the stretch.

Brad Davis is serving the final game of his three game suspension. That stems from the gross misconduct in that first Prince George game last weekend.

That means the Smokies are one man short tonight. Looking to avoid some costly mistakes today. If they can do that and put together a similar effort a win is certainly possible tonight. Luckily for Trail both PG and Quesnel lost yesterday so nobody is any closer to them in that race for 5th and 6th. You certainly want to take advantage of those occcurances by putting some more space between the teams. Vernon is a tough, skilled team though.

I love this building. It's one of the best in the league without question. The other thing is I'm admittedly a bit of a wimp. This rink is room temperature and I gotta say I absolutely love that part of it. What can I say, I may be a proud Canadian but if I could avoid seeing my breath I would.


Well I ddn't have time during the broadcast to do any updates. I'll just quickly post that I thought this was as exciting a game as we've seen. Trail and Vernon really seem to have some great battles. Reminded me of the first game of the season between these two teams. Looking at the season so far the best games of the year have been against Prince George and Vernon... not surprisingly the teams that are one ahead and behind of the Smokies in the standings. These wins do give Vernon some extra space between themselves and Trail. The Smokies got one point this weekend, PG got one point and Quesnel got none. That means the race is pretty much exactly where it was heading into the weekend. The Smokies do have some games in hand on Quesnel so they'll need to take advantage of those.

Chris Santiago played his best game as a Smokie today. He was excellent in the face off circle. I didn't realize he had that ability. He also made some key defensive plays and had an assist on Corcoran's goal. I thought Casey Shade was dynamite on the forecheck today. He was all over Vernon after that puck inside their zone. Limbert was rock solid as always, including a couple giant hits. The puck JUST escaped him on a chance to win it in double overtime.

Big credit to Grant Rollheiser for this game as well. He stopped 40 of 43 shots and a lot of them were really tough point shots with deflections in front. Rollheiser has faced some tough games the past two weeks. In my opinion he hasn't been giving up any soft goals, but 5-1, 6-2, 5-4... those kinds of scores I imagine are tough on a goalie's confidence even if you're playing well. He was terrific in this game. Rollheiser is all ready good, and I predict next season he'll be one of the top goaltenders in this league without question.

Ourosov and Corcoran are the goal scorers for Trail. Those are both guys who have a knack around the net. Corcoran especially has been just on fire since the Arduin deal. Must've really put some pressure on himself to pick up that slack. Now he's all ready at 19 goals for the season.

Jimmy Geerin is really impressing people here. He's played two games and fit in like a veteran. Two points in those two games as well. Very good first pass, very calm and poised in his own zone, solid positionally and just looks like a player. He and the rest of the team were running around a bit in the third period, but I am so far a fan of what he brings to the table. Looking at the pick ups on D (Levarsky, Hill, Geerin) we're seeing a shift towards responsible guys who really know how to play in their own zone.

It's tough to swallow only getting a single point in these two games, but as I said on the broadcast I expect the team to take a lot of positives out of their hard work and solid play this weekend. Lets hope it carries over into the game Tuesday night at home against Westside.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Westover for Geerin

Just a quick update. I'll have more later on.

The Smoke Eaters have traded D Nathan Westover (88) to the Penticton Vees for D Jimmy Geerin (89)

Westover asked to be traded after the weekend. The Smokies had lots of interest and decided to take Geerin. He's another player from Alaska joining Casey Shade, Scott Warner and Braden Kinnebrew. Apparently he's good friends with Kinnebrew. That should help as he tries to settle in with the team.

Geerin's a big kid. 6'1 195 according to the BCHL website at only 17 years of age. Only had 7 points so he won't be expected to take on Westover's offensive load. This means more opportunity for a guy like Scott Warner perhaps on the top PP unit.

It also works towards solving the glut of 1988 born players on the roster right now. They'll only be able to carry so many of those guys next year.

Westover is an exciting player to watch, but you want players who want to be there. At the end it sounds like he wasn't happy and that's not good for anyone.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Kevin Limbert: All-Star

First I just want to say when it comes to rumours you read online, don't believe everything you read. I suppose that goes without saying.

Of course when it comes to anything I write, take it as gospel ;)

A couple of days ago the BCHL announced the rosters for this year's All-Star Game. A game like that at this level is certainly different than at the pro level. These young men are still trying to prove their worth to pro teams and schools. It's an opportunity to showcase your skills in front of a ton of scouts and against other very good hockey players. These guys aren't going to take it easy out there.

The Trail Smoke Eaters are going to be represented at the game by their Captain. Kevin Limbert is as natural a choice as you could make from Trail's roster this year. He does it all. Limbert is the guy they'll call on if it's late in the game and the team needs a goal. He's also the guy that will see the ice if it's late in the game and they're only up by a goal. Limbert is a two-way player who never takes a shift off. He's not a big guy, but he plays with a physical edge and some grit.

You want an example of his contributions? Look back to the overtime win against Prince George on Saturday. Limbert scored a power play goal to put Trail up 1-0. He won key face offs. He killed penalties. He had a couple of assists. On the winning goal in overtime, Limbert crunched Jordy Christian into the boards inside the Smokies zone. He followed the play up the ice, took a drop pass from Corcoran, dropped the puck to a wide-open Westover and watched Corcoran put home the puck for a Trail win. He made a big hit, was in the right place in the other end and he made a good heads up pass. It's typical of the way that Limbert contributes to his team in every respect.

You want to talk about respect, how about the way he was awarded the Captaincy? According to former Coach Tim Kehler, when he asked players at the end of last year who should be the new Captain... every single player (with the exception of Limbert) told him it should be Kevin Limbert. Who else can say they have that much respect on their team?

A Fruitvale native and a player who grew up in the Trail area, he's a perfect representative of the orange and black at the All-Star Game. He's also a representative of the style of play the coaching staff wants on this team. Hard work, two-way play, unselfish play and integrity. Coach Ingram told me the other day he doesn't think there's a harder working player in the league. Just watch him. Even if the team is down 5-1 in the third period, Limbert will still fight for every puck.

Congratulations to Kevin Limbert for making the team.

We should also mention that former Smoke Eater sniper David Arduin made the team as well. Arduin spent most of his season here and earned the All-Star nod as a Smoke Eater. He deserves the nod as one of the most dynamic offensive players in this league. One thing that doesn't often get mentioned about Arduin's game is his face-off abilities. Often he would get sent out to start a shift just so he could win a face-off. It's a very important and often overlooked skill. Arduin has scored three times for Westside in three games, and I suspect he'll continue to have success with the Warriors.

Could there have been more players from Trail on the team? We saw a great number of guys from teams who have had less success than the Smokies this year. However, Trail plays a game where team is emphasized. They don't focus on one or two lines or one or two guys back on D. When you focus on your depth often the individuals don't shine as brightly.

I still think Grant Rollheiser was overlooked at goaltender. We saw two goalies picked from teams under Trail in the standings. Rollheiser has consistently had a very good save percentage. It's a stat that I think is as important as any when measuring a goaltender. Rollheiser has almost always done what was necessary to give his team a chance to win. I can think of one game where he really had an off night. He may be a rookie, but he's still among the more reliable goaltenders in this league. I look forward to seeing him develop. He could be a top 2 or 3 goaltender in the BCHL next season.

Also I'd like to congratulate Castlegar native Alex Evin for being named the starting goaltender. He's done a very good job in nets for Penticton. Had a shut out against Trail earlier this year as well. Well deserved honour for a player who is saving his best for his last year in the league.

Here's a link to an interview I did with Smokies Captain Kevin Limbert on being named to the All-Star Game roster. Humble as always he was surprised to get the nod, but he shouldn't have been. Congrats again to Limbert, Arduin, Evin and all those who will get the chance to represent their team and the league.

Friday night is Trail hosting Vernon. The Jones twins return home to the scene of the first game of the year. Vernon won that one in double overtime. Should be a fun game. Puck drops tomorrow night at 7:30pm from Cominco Arena. I'll be there live hosting Overtime by the merchandise booth, come say hello! After the game you can join us live at Rave's Restaurant for the post-game show.

Don't forget you can always call in and talk Smokies hockey on Overtime. We're also talking today about the possibility of a BCHL team coming to Nelson. What do you think? 1-877-560-1010.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Northern Road Trip Recap

Don't forget KIJHL fans that you can see Grand Forks take on Beaver Valley tonight in Fruitvale. 7pm puck drop. Wish I could see the game but work calls.

Here's some audio from the weekend off of the Mountain FM website. You can hear stuff like this weeknights on Overtime from 6pm to Midnight. Also feel free to call in at 1-877-560-1010, I'd love to hear from Smokies fans or any other BCHL fans that want to talk some hockey. You can talk about whatever you want.

Again you can hear first run material like that on Overtime weeknights. Let me know if you find this stuff useful.

Thanks to those who passed on the kind words about the blog. I haven't posted a whole lot that would lead to discussion here on the blog. I wonder if there are enough people reading so that we could have a good discussion about stuff in the comments section? I guess we'll see if anything worth debate comes up!

Did anyone listen to the game on Saturday night? How did you feel about the sound quality we got? We tried using a computer broadcast system as opposed to the typical phone system. Did you notice the difference? If so, was it a positive or negative difference in your mind? Let me know here or by e-mail at

Quite a trip for the Smokies. It was bumpy as hell from day one. We were supposed to leave at 9am on Wednesday and ended up actually leaving at 11pm that night thanks to mechanical problems. We left Prince George after the game on Saturday night and ended up stuck in Vernon for 4-5 hours in the wee hours of the morning. That's what happens on the bus sometimes! It sure made for a tired, road weary group piling off that bus on Sunday afternoon. We won't have a full weekend road trip again until the new year.

The team also saw a new side of Coach Jim Ingram this weekend. After 5-1 and 6-2 losses to start the trip, Ingram really let the boys have it before and during Saturday's game. They responded well with a terrific effort on Saturday night. Prince George is a good team with some great young talent. They're going to challenge everyone in this league. They're also going to be incredible fun to watch as those young players develop. Three out of the four games between the Smokies and Spruce Kings have gone to overtime. They've been the most exciting games of the year. When PG is back in Trail later this year you don't want to miss those games.

We also saw the Smokies show a physical side they haven't shown all year. They were the least penalized team in the league coming into the weekend before fighting 5 times in the third period of the Quesnel game and getting involved in a mini-brawl at the end of the first Prince George game.

Despite a disappointing 1-2 record, I think this group did a lot of team building on the trip. Lots of soul searching, refocusing and bonding. Now they're suffering for those two losses as Coach Ingram puts them to work this week. 6am workouts, three workouts a day, heavy practice... as he told me on the weekend, "It's time to go to work." How will the boys respond to a more hands on and intense leadership approach from the Coach?

We'll see where that takes them now that the Jones boys and the Vernon Vipers come into town for the first of a home and home on Friday.

I'll have a post up later discussing Kevin Limbert's all-star team selection. Congrats to one of the hardest working players in the league for a well deserved honour!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Game 33: Trail at Prince George *UPDATED*

As usual for road games, we are live tonight on Mountain FM with AM Ford Trail Smoke Eaters hockey. If you're out of our broadcast region you can listen live on the BCHL Fanzone.

So is this going to be the second round of a weekend war? In case you missed it, the last 7.7 seconds of the Trail/PG game last night turned into a bit of a battle. Cam Brodie and Davies went one on one in a good, legit fight. Brad Davis hit Jordy Christian and it turned into a mini-brawl with Patrick Martin and McLeod. Davis apparently pushed the linesman and he's out for at least three games with a gross misconduct. Sam Muchalla jumped into the Brodie/Davies fight as the third man in. Paul Levarsky followed him in to even the odds, and Forsythe jumped into that fight as another third man in for Prince Geroge. Finally, Dylan Herold evened the odds so that the fight was 3 on 3. The linesmen quickly broke it all up before anyone got hurt. From what I can tell all the players involved came away relatively unscathed.

Unscathed, but not unpunished.

Davis received a gross misconduct while Dylan Herold got a game misconduct. I still haven't figured out why Herold was singled out for punishment. He came into the fight to make sure Levarsky wasn't double teamed. Seems odd to punish him for that.

McLeod, Muchalla and Forsythe also received game misconducts. The score sheet specifically mentioned Muchalla being the third man into a fight. It didn't mention the same thing in regards to Forsythe so I'm not sure if that's why he got the misconduct or not. McLeod is another case where I'm not sure why he's getting a misconduct. From my perspective both Herold and McLeod were justified in their actions. Davis, Muchalla and Forsythe all likely deserve to sit.

So will we see the re-match tonight?

Saturday, December 8th, 2007: Trail (14-15-1-2) at Prince George (12-14-1-5)

For the first time in several months the Smoke Eaters are sitting under .500 in regulation. They're winless in five games after a couple of great wins over Salmon Arm and Penticton. Right now the momentum is anything but positive.

We still haven't heard whether or not Ourosov's suspension after the game in Quesnel is one game or two. That will be the difference between Trail being down a full line or just two players. Prince George will apparently lose three guys for the game. I heard their midget teams are out of town so there are no AP options. If that information is accurate, we're going to see a couple of short handed teams tonight.

One might think that we're going to see these teams go to war again tonight. I have a feeling they're going to play a pretty clean game. With McLeod and Forsythe out of the line-up, PG is likely going to move Davies back to D and sit with 5 D and 10 forwards. That's what I would guess anyway. Trail is going to have all six guys back on the blue-line, but they may be down to 9 forwards. If Ourosov plays they'll have 10, without him there are no additional players for Trail. They came on the trip without any extra players so they'll be short tonight one way or another.

With each team down that many men it wouldn't be all that wise to start getting into penalty trouble. The last thing either team needs is to have players sitting in the box for 5 minutes at a time. They certainly can't afford to have anyone kicked out of the game.

This could be exactly the kind of thing Trail needs. It's a put up or shut up kind of game. They've been badly outscored in two games on this road trip, now they're going to be short players and are at risk of falling to 7th place with a loss tonight. If they can't find passion and motivation going into tonight's game than I don't know when they ever would. You can see the looks on their faces today. It's a determined group. They absolutely don't want to go home empty handed.

There have been some positive notes for Trail this weekend. Corcoran looks very determined to take on the role of the top goal scorer on this team. He leads the team with 15 goals including two more this weekend. He's working very hard in the corners and fighting for pucks... driving to the net. Corcoran is one of the players who absolutely has to step up in Arduin's absence, and so far he's doing just that. You certainly can't ever question the hard work of Casey Shade and Kevin Limbert out there. They kept fighting and battling for pucks even when the team was down 5-0. Ryan Bulach had a couple of glorious chances including his goal last night. He's a player who will certainly be counted on to take on additional responsibilities. I like the progress Braden Kinnebrew has made lately. He seems strong on the puck and more confident in his decision making. It may not seem obvious in 5-1 and 6-2 losses, but I think Kinnebrew is really coming along.

These guys all work hard, they all want to win. Game in and game out there are several people on this team who I can point to and say those guys give it their all. But when you're losing there has to be another gear. Everybody has to step up their game to get Trail out of this funk and save this season. This is still a veteran group. They've only moved two 20 year olds. There are still a lot of 87 and 88 born players here. Those kinds of teams can't be satisfied with what they've produced lately.

On the other side, Prince George has improved a lot since we saw them in September. The young players are growing and maturing. Ketlo is very composed in net for a 16 year old. Christian is nothing short of a superstar in this league. Even with a line-up full of rookies, nobody can take these Spruce Kings lightly. They're going to just keep getting better in the last couple of months of the year. This is a team to watch.

It's gut check time for the Smoke Eaters. Win and they have something to build on. Lose again... get blown out again... and it's back to the drawing board on Monday. It's hard to imagine there won't be more moves if things don't improve.

Gotta love the drama. That's hockey, baby!


The official word is in on the suspensions and I have to say I'm a little bit shocked.

For Trail:
  • Brad Davis is suspended for at least one game, but no official word on if it'll be longer.
  • Dylon Herold is out for one game in a call I still don't understand. Herold's only action in the fight was to follow Forsythe when Forsythe was the third man in on Levarsky/Muchalla. Herold just evened the odds. Should he have let his teammate get double teamed? What am I missing?
  • Cam Brodie is suspended for continuing to pound on Davies in their fight. A fight that both parties agreed to and that nobody broke up. They in fact both stopped fighting for a while, but since no one broke them up they started up again and Brodie took him down. Should he have simply walked away from the fight? Neither man did, but both could have. Why is Brodie faulted for winning when no ref or linesman stepped in to tell them to stop or to break them up?
  • Assistant Coach Brian Youngson is suspended for the game because he was the Coach at the time of the incident. Ingram had been kicked out earlier and will be back on the bench tonight, but by himself.
  • Steve Ourosov serves the second of a two game suspension for being in the second fight after a whistle in Quesnel.

For Prince George:

  • McLeod is gone for the game for I'm not sure what. His suspension like that of Herold seems very strange to me. He was getting involved in what was a four person pile up in front of Trail's bench, but I didn't see him doing anything particularly worth of suspension.
  • Forsythe is gone for a game for what I assume is being the third man in when he went after Levasky... who had gone after Muchalla... who had been the third man in on Brodie's fight with Davies. But Herold also got suspended for evening those odds.

That's it.

Muchalla somehow avoids suspension despite the fact the he was obviously a third man in. I don't know how that can possibly be justified. Let me paint a picture for you.

Brodie and Davies had a fight. They were standing there taking a breather while there was a pile up by the Trail bench. They start to go again a little bit. Muchalla, from the other side of the ice, skates all the way into the Trail zone to try to break up the Brodie/Davies fight himself. That or to help Davies against Brodie I don't know. Either way he skated halfway across the rink to get involved in a fight that had been going on for like two minutes between two guys who had both consented to the fight.

How do you define third man in? Is that not the most blatant example possible?

Paul Levarsky quickly followed Muchalla into the Trail zone to even the odds. He did so because his teammate was now facing two Prince George players. It's the same action Herold took, evening the odds to make sure his teammates weren't out-matched.

Someone please explain the logic of these rulings to me.

I think I'll try to phone the league on Monday and find out before my Overtime show. I don't know if they'll talk to me, but it's worth a try.


...Smokies played a much better first period. Kept things simple, a very effective penalty kill on their three PKs, stronger on the puck and quicker to the puck in those corners. A few really good chances and a PP goal from Limbert. I believe Rollheiser gets his first BCHL point assisting on the Limbert goal. The Captain had a very good period. One shift in particular on the PK where he intercepted a pass in front of the net, won a puck battle in the corner of his own zone, got the puck deep to kill some time and made a big hit on Christian. That's leading by example. Christian is so fast and dangerous for PG. I think his line is limited tonight because Davies had to move back to D with McLeod and Forsythe were out. Good period, both teams played solid.

...Corcoran scores his second of the game in double overtime for a Smokies win. Possibly the most exciting game of the year. More later. Thanks for listening and reading! Now a 12 hour bus ride home...

Bus Vegas

I've had a couple of people e-mail me or ask me about how certain things happen on the team bus. For example, one person asked me how Coach Ingram reacts after a loss. How do players react. What is the atmosphere like. Who gets along with who.

I like to provide as much information as I can to people. I know that working for Mountain FM on Overtime and as our Sports Director, my job is to be a sports journalist as well as a broadcaster. I can't just put out nice PR pieces about the Smokies. I do have to tell it like it is to the best of my ability. However, I've also come to believe something really important.

What goes on the bus stays on the bus.

It's just like Las Vegas, this is nobody's business. I guess it's as simple as realizing that I'm a guest. The Smokies invite me onto their bus, they invite me to their meals, they invite me to stay with them at the hotel. As a guest it is my responsibility to ensure them their privacy in those moments. I can't be a journalist 24 hours a day, because it's not fair. These guys have to be able to let loose and be themselves or they'd go crazy. Imagine having someone watching every move you make in your down time... just ready to put pad to paper or voice to tape.

I think relatively harmless or cute stories are fair game. I know on the air I talked about the song they play when the team wins. I'll interview a player on the bus and the guys will badger their teammate with some jokes and stuff. I think that's ok. However, when it comes to personal interraction or coach/player relations, that's off limits. Good news or bad news, I don't think it'd be fair to pass that stuff along.

Not that I think there's any real controversy here. These guys get along.

But in response to some of those questions I get... sorry guys, it's not for me to say. If a player or coach passes something along to me in an interview or in a formal setting, I'll pass that information along. If not, I have to respect that trust or I'll be finding my own way to games. I don't think I want to have to drive myself to Prince George!

Viva Bus Vegas.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Game 32: Trail at Prince George

We are live once again tonight on Mountain FM. If you're out of our broadcast region you can listen live on the BCHL Fanzone.

The Smokies are now only one point ahead of Quesnel and three points up on Prince George for 5th place in the Interior Conference. They're dangerously close to being in 7th place. The last few games haven't been kind to the Smokies. It started with the rough game at home against Westside, a loss and a tie against Merritt and a loss in Quesnel. That's one point in their last four games. They now have back to back games with the Spruce Kings. Two wins would put some good distance between the two teams. Two losses would mean momentum for PG and a Smoke Eaters team sitting on the outside of the playoffs looking in. This team absolutely has to show up in a big way tonight.

Everyone had a good sleep in the hotel last night. They've had good meals, they're well rested, they should be ready to go tonight.

Friday, December 7th, 2007: Trail (14-14-1-2) at Prince George (11-14-1-5)

(Click here for the boxscore)

Line combinations last night were as follows:

Shade Limbert Santiago
Aiken Corcoran Paulsen
Mailey Bulach Ourosov
Davis Herold Martin

Warner Brodie
Levarski Westover
Hill Kinnebrew

Not sure if that will be exactly what we see, but the new units may need some time to gel. Santiago told me yesterday that he played half the year last season on a line with Aiken in Westside, and Santiago got very good results last season. It might be something they look at down the line. They do play together right now in the first PP unit. When things change like they did with the Arduin deal there's a lot of experimenting to do with new potential combinations.

Here's hoping for a good game tonight. Should be a heated one! Pre-game show starts at 6:45 on Mountain FM.

UPDATE: Steve Ourosov is out of tonight's game. He was suspended for being in the second fight after a stoppage. Last night both Mailey and Ourosov dropped the gloves at close to the same time, but Ourosov's was just after Mailey's so he's the one who has to sit out.

As a result Corcoran moves to wing and they're going to run with three Cs tonight. There are no extra players here nor is there any AP with the team. With Decosse, Proulx and Jago all out of the line-up they don't have much flexibility at the moment.

Also, Brian Youngson told me the fights in the third yesterday were not really the team challenging Quesnel. The Smokies were being challenged by Mills players and were answering the bell... not necessarily provoking it. That's what he told me in the pre-game.

Looking forward to the game. PG and Trail have had two really exciting games so far this year. The first one saw Trail jump out to a huge lead, PG came back, and Trail won it in overtime. Second one went to double OT and the Spruce Kings won it despite a controversial no call in the other end. Two of the most entertaining games this year.

Prince George is a very young team with a ton of rookies. They're getting better every game. They also feature one of the most dynamic players in the league. Jordy Christian is a pleasure to watch. He'll be off to St. Cloud next season, so lets enjoy watching him while we can.

Rollheiser gets the start again tonight for Trail. He's looking to rebound after a tough start last night. He has been everything the Smokies have asked from him this year. I bet he'll rebound tonight and give them a chance to win it. We'll see if the guys can puck some pucks in the net this evening.

Won't be updating much if at all during the game. But hope you enjoy the broadcast!


...Trail has dug themselves another hole tonight. Outshot 20-3 and outscored 3-0 in the first period by Prince George. This game isn't over by any means, but they just couldn't' get the puck out of their own zone in the first. PG broke up clearing attempt after clearing attempt. Good job by their defenders at the point getting shots through for tips on a couple of those goals. Christian gets his 20th of the year for the Spruce Kings. He's a heck of a player. Trail is letting their position in the standings slip away. They must respond.

...Smokies have 7 shots after two periods. Ingram kicked out of the game for arguing a penalty call. 5-0 PG on a shorthanded goal by Jordy Christian, his second of the game. Not much to say.

...Trail played much better in the third period. 13 shots and 2 goals. Corcoran scored on a one timer while Bulach put a backhand in the top corner. Brodie missed a puck with is gove in the neutral zone allowing Muchalla to break in and score. Things got messy in the final 10 seconds. Brodie and Davies fought. Then Davis apparently cross checked Christian (I missed it) before that turned into a mess with McLeod and Martin involved. Davis got a gross misconduct and is gone for 3 games now. At that point for some reason Muchalla decided to intervene in the Davies/Brodie fight. Just a senseless move on Muchalla's part to become the third man in. Levarsky jumped him to even the odds, so Forsythe followed in and for the second time in 10 seconds Prince George had another third man in. Herold evened the odds and the linesmen worked on breaking it all up at that point. Davis is gone for three games, the rest we're not sure yet. Herold, McLeod, Forsythe and Muchalla all got game misconducts and will miss tomorrow's game. Not sure if any will get additional suspensions. I'm not sure why McLeod or Herold got games. Herold especially was just evening the odds after PG had the third man in for the second time. Muchalla and Forsythe I would think will both face additional discipline for being the third men. I'm not sure how much that would be.

It'll be an interesting game tomorrow night. Both teams will be shorthanded. Apparently the local midget team is out of town so there are no APs available for the Spruce Kings. I guess we'll see three lines for both teams tomorrow. The Smokies desperately need two points tomorrow. They're now only 1 point ahead of both Quesnel and PG.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Game 31: Trail at Quesnel

Don't forget to listen to our broadcast live on Mountain FM! If you aren't in the Kootenay Boundary you can listen through the BCHL Fanzone.

That was a bit of an adventure. Unfortunately we ran into some bus problems yesterday when we were supposed to leave Trail at 9am. Didn't end up leaving until 11pm! Nothing you can do. Our bus driver Daryl and the gang at Columbia did the best they could for us, but in the end the part we needed just wasn't in town. Had to wait for a new bus and we were on our way to drive through the night.

I'm one of those guys who can sleep anywhere, anytime. I was exhausted by the time we got going and I'm not sure I was awake for more than 2-3 minutes of the entire trip. That's the way to do it. Sure it's a 10-11 hour drive but doesn't feel like it if you can sleep most of the way. The boys got a nap this morning/afternoon. They had a couple of good meals. We're ready to go. We were also invited to stop by Brad Davis' house today. His parents were very friendly and welcoming so a big thank you to them.

This is an incredibly big game for the Smokies. They wanted more than 1 of 4 points from Merritt on the weekend and are now unfortunately in a position where either Prince George or Quesnel could catch them for 5th spot in the Interior. This is a spot the Smokies have pretty much owned for a couple of months now. With two teams this close to them they're in danger of falling to 7th unless they have a good showing tonight in Quesnel and the next two days in Prince George.

Thursday, December 6th, 2007: Trail (14-13-1-2) at Quesnel (13-17-0-2)

(Click here for the boxscore)

Quesnel has won 4 out of 5 games between these two teams, including all three games they played at Cominco Arena. During the last northern swing Trail handled Quesnel on the Saturday but lost on the Sunday afternoon. Assistant Coach Brian Youngson says their biggest problem against the Millionaires has been effort level. He also says on our pre-game show that they will be disappointed with anything but 6 points this weekend.

Chris Santiago makes his debut in the line-up for Trail. He's looking to turn his season around as he's sitting at 11 points right now but obviously has the talent to produce more than he has. Looking forward to seeing his speed and skill in game action.

Quesnel features a Castlegar native in their line-up. Tanner Hlookoff had left Quesnel due to the expansion draft, but he's back with the team now and excited about the program developing and heading in the right direction. The 19 year old defenceman is a former Castlegar Rebel and one of this team's veterans.

A big game and they're giving away and ATV tonight! Don't expect too many updates from me tonight as I'm doing a life broadcast you can listen to on Mountain FM in the Kootenay Boundary or online in the BCHL Fanzone.


...Just a brutal period for Trail. Rollhesier got run out of the game after 8 minutes and 3 goals in 8 shots. Becker scores two for Quesnel. Gagnon and Hertz score as well. Nice set up by Williams on the Hertz goal. Trail started the game with no legs. I wonder if they're not recovering from that late bus ride? Either way that's the worst result they've ever had from 20 minutes of play this season. Can they rebound? Certainly would show some guts if they did, but it seems like things are just not going in the right direction today.

....They were much better in the second. Controlled the play had their chances. Corcoran scored on a one timer from Aiken. But Warner's missed pinch caused a 2 on 1 and goal for Williams. Smokies played better but didn't gain any ground.

...The Smokies couldn't seem to get any momentum going. The pucks were bouncing off their sticks all night. Certainly the effort was much stronger in the second and third period. However, I do want to give credit to the boys for being unwilling to let the game go without showing they had some pride. After five third period fights we saw the Smokies send a message to their teammates that no one is ready to walk quietly into the night. Is it better than winning? Of course not. It was still good to see the guys show they really cared and weren't going to just limp out of Quesnel without showing it. Davis, Hill, Mailey and Ourosov all dropped the gloves. For Davis it was two fights in the period in front of his home town crowd. The second one challenging Lee Klapp, a guy who had a significant heigh and weight advantage on him. Gutsy.

Ultimately the slow start was too big of a hole to dig out of. Lets hope they take some positive energy into Prince George.

On a side note I thought that I was AWFUL last night on air. If I'm going to talk about how a team performs I should certainly be willing to rip myself. I don't think I've ever had a game as bad as that one. Even when I did games in school. I just felt like I was completely off all game long. Maybe the bus ride got to me too? Either way, to anyone listening to last night's game my apologies! I promise to do my best in PG to improve on this weak effort on my part. I know the Trail fans and parents are counting on me to give them a picture of what's happening and hopefully I do that more often than not.

FINAL SCORE: Quesnel 5 Trail 1

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Chris Santiago

From the Westside Warriors on You Tube, that's a video of Chris Santiago scoring a nice goal on his backhand as called by Kevin Parnell and Brett Mix. A quick thanks to Kevin for appearing on Overtime last night to discus the Westside/Trail trade. It's always fun for me to talk hockey with another one of the BCHL's broadcasters. Given that most of them have been in this game longer than I have, I usually learn something in the process. Kevin and Brett do a really good job in Westside.

I don't know if this one video displays a tremendous amount of Chris Santiago's skill set. From what I understand, he is one of the best skaters in the league. I have to tell you that I don't remember much from his play in the two games the Smoke Eaters had in Westside. Randy Emery told me he thought Santiago was one of their better players in the 4-3 Trail win a few weeks ago. Kevin tells me he's a very talented young man with a huge upside. The Smoke Eaters are obviously quite high on him as well.

However, Santiago has 11 points so far this season. Looking at Points Per Game (a more accurate stat in my opinion) his 0.5 ranks him in a tie for 8th place among Smoke Eaters. He's tied with Warner, Westover and Paulsen. It's also a drop from the 0.7 PPG (21 goals, 17 assists in 58 games) Santiago put up last year with the Warriors. That tells you he has underachieved this season, but it also tells you he has the potential to do much more than he has. You almost never see an 18 year old's production decline from his 17 year old season. Without really knowing what changed for him in Westside this year, we can't really speculate as to why things have gone the way they have.

I do know that in my conversations with Brian Youngson, Mark Howell, Kevin Parnell, some players and executives... they've all said positive things about Santiago. They all seem to believe he has the ability to break out of his slight decline this year and produce significantly at this level.

I had a chance to interview Chris on Overtime last night. Part 1 and 2 (and they're a bit rougher than my usual interviews, yesterday was a real rush for me) are posted at Mountain FM's website. Here are the links: (Santiago Part 1) (Santiago Part 2)

From this interview we discover that Santiago had asked to be traded. There can be a ton of reasons for something like that to happen. His indication in the interview was simply that things weren't working the way he expected this season and a change of scenery might help. Westside Coach Mark Howell indicated the same thing in an interview we'll air tonight on Overtime. If there was something more to it, neither side is saying.

Howell did also note that Santiago turned down a scholarship offer earlier this year and perhaps that made some difference in his mindset.

Sometimes a change of scenery can be all it takes to take a player to the next level. Trail will now have room on top units and on the PP for Santiago. If he earns ice time in those situations, he can prove that his game has another gear. Perhaps this will be similar to what happened to David Arduin after being moved to Trail from Vernon.

It certainly helps hearing that he has connections to so many of the current Smokies. It sounds like Santiago is going to fit right in with the boys, and chemistry after a trade is always a key factor.

There are two sides to every trade. In the wake of the recent trade most of the attention has been focused on David Arduin. It's not surprising given as he is one of the top scorers in the BCHL. In the first month and a half of this season Arduin was on a wonderful pace. His scoring had slowed this past month, but he is clearly a star in this league. When you trade a star most of the talk is going to focus on him. Especially when that star scores two goals in his first game as a Warrior.

A tip of the hat to Arduin who had to ride the bus to Kelowna on Saturday, get up early on Sunday, fly to Vancouver, wait in the airport for several hours, fly to Prince George, and get into the dressing room in just enough time to play. Howell told me that Arduin that close to game time and still played in every situation, fitting in right away. I think most Smokie fans are hoping that the trade does spark Arduin to get his production and game back on track... just as long as it's not against Trail.

Trades are made for a reason. The Smoke Eaters needed a shot in the arm. They were also at risk of falling out of contention with Arduin, and losing him for nothing in the off season. If you're not among the top 4 teams in the conference with him in your line-up, is it good asset management to keep him? Of course if they don't go on a good run, they may have to ask that same question about other 20 year olds and that's always the trick of managing a junior hockey roster. If management doesn't feel like this team is making strides by the trade deadline, will we see other similar moves?

When talking about the deal I do again want to stress that we can't just focus on Arduin for Santiago. The player Trail could have lost in the Aiken trade is very significant. I don't off hand know the list of players they couldn't chose, but there are a lot of guys that the Smokies absolutely wouldn't want to lose from next year's roster. Taking that choice away from Westside is important. For the Warriors it's a move that Howell told me he'd make every time. They needed a go to sniper. He says it just means that this summer he'll have to work harder to recruit that extra good young player, but it's easily worth it to him to add a guy of Arduin's talent.

In any event, the trade essentially amounts to Aiken and Santiago for Arduin. Or you can look at it as Santiago and Future Smoke Eater for Arduin. Whether that player was going to be Rollheiser, Bulach, Proulx, whomever else Westside may have taken. While that may be a good way to look at it from a Smokies perspective, it doesn't change the fact that this year's team all ready had both Aiken and Arduin. Now they don't. So how much of that slack can Chris Santiago fill?

We'll get our first look at Santiago this weekend against Quesnel (who for whatever reason has had great success against Trail this year) and Prince George. Tomorrow morning is the long bus ride up north. I should have lots of time to write when we get there! I want to take a look at goaltending for the Smokies compared to what other BCHL teams have been getting. I've heard some complaints about goaltending (as there always will be no matter who you have in net) and I want to set the record straight... or at least what from my perspective.

Looking forward to seeing how Santiago fits in. One thing is for sure, the line-up for next year is getting fuller by the day. I know no one in the room is looking that far ahead yet, but it is interesting from a broadcaster's perspective to take a glimpse to the future. At the very least, this trade has given the 2007-2008 Smoke Eaters an obvious boost.

Just for fun, here's an episode of Warriors TV with Santiago. He liked The Holiday? Come on, Chris!

(Anyone who wants to talk Smokies hockey on Mountain FM can feel free to give me a call tonight or any night Overtime is on the air at 1-877-560-1010)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Arduin traded to Westside

You never expect a team to trade their leading scorer. The reality is that things happen in hockey. The Smoke Eaters are a team that just hasn't gotten into a rhythm yet this year. When things aren't quite working a team has to look at all their options. I haven't had a chance yet to talk to Jim Ingram about the trade of Arduin so I don't want to speculate on why specifically he chose to make this move.

What do we know? They got a very talented young player in Chris Santiago. He's a player who was drafted by Regina in the WHL. He scored 38 points last year as a 17 year old. He's had schools watching him and he's a player with a lot of speed and skill. I'll talk more about Santiago later as well. I'm told he's played with a couple of guys on the team before and they're looking forward to seeing him in orange and black. Trail also now doesn't owe Westside anything in the Aiken deal. That means the trade ends up being Aiken, Santiago and futures for Arduin. It looks like a pretty fair hockey deal when you spell it out that way.

However, what I want to do here is talk about David Arduin and his time in Trail. Here's a guy who was practically written off as a top player after being hurt and having a tough year in Vernon his first BCHL season. He worked his butt off to get in good shape and Tim Kehler brought him to Trail. As a 19 year old he broke out and lead the Smokies in scoring, putting up 29 goals and 66 points as part of a balanced attack in Trail last year. He proved he was an elite player and he got the attention of college scouts.

Arduin also scored the first goal I ever called as the Smokies play by play announcer. He's an explosive player and notched it only seconds into that game in Prince George. He followed it with two more for a first period hat trick. He's got very good instincts and a strong shot. His passes are crisp and accurate, and he just seems to always be in the right place in the offensive zone.

David got a scholarship this year to Qunnipiac, one of the fastest rising programs in the NCAA. In talking to coaches and scouts, he's known to be a very good student who worked hard to make sure his academics were strong enough to get him where he wanted to be. Arduin could have folded his tent after a disappointing 18 year old season, but he kept his grades and game in good shape and got what he said he'd always dreamed of, a chance to play Division 1 hockey.

Arduin was easily one of the best interviews on the team. I had him on Overtime for a full hour and there were no slow points. The guy can talk and he knows his hockey. He always had time for me when I needed an interview and that makes life real easy for a guy in my position. He also kept the mood light on the bus and seemed to really love it here in Trail. From what I can tell, his contributions were positive on many fronts.

Nobody is saying bad things about David Arduin here. Hockey is a business and sometimes you've got to make moves that are really tough for everyone. He may be a Warrior now, but David Arduin made a very strong impression on Trail, the fans and his teammates. What's the saying? When you're a Smoke Eater, you're a Smoke Eater for life. Good luck to him.

Game 30: Merritt at Trail

Been busy so no time for a game preview. The big news today is of course that David Arduin has been traded to Westside for Chris Santiago and futures. I think the trade was reported on the BCHL website in record time. Within minutes the players were on new rosters online and the trade was posted in transactions. From my understanding this just happened at around 1pm this afternoon and it was up there almost instantly.

I'll have more on the Arduin trade either later tonight or tomorrow. Needless to say it's a huge shake up and it'll be hard not to miss a guy like that. We'll see how the boys respond!

Saturday, December 1rst, 2007: Merritt (7-18-0-5) at Trail (14-13-0-2)

(Click here for the box score)

Cents are coming off a 3-1 win against Trail last night. Smokies outshot them 44-29 but Merrit did what they had to do to win. Smokies are a man short today with Arduin gone and Santiago couldn't make it in time for the game. He apparently really tried but couldn't get here.

I'm doing the man in the stands for Mountain FM today. Any fans who ever want a gift certificate all you have to do is talk to me over the air for a few seconds. It's easy as pie!


...Paul Barclay getting the start today and Merritt gets on the board first and early. Ruud has been a Smokie killer in the games the two teams have played and he scored 32 seconds in from Zalba who was terrific yesterday as well. Smokies rebounded later in the period. Ourosov made a really nice move in front to tie the game. Later Ryan Hill picked a good time to pinch, made a nice move and threw the puck in from for Ryan Bulach who made no mistake. Bulach is going to be relied upon even more now that Arduin is gone. I think he's capable of taking some of those minutes. Shots 12-11 Trail.

...Second period was another good one for the Smoke Eaters. Corcoran scored short handed on a rebound from Shade's shot. That's always a big lift for the team. Those are two vets who will have to pick up some of Arduin's scoring as well. Merritt cuts the lead to 1 on a really nice rush by Halliday. He sort of strong armed Westover to keep a hold of the puck and put it top corner. August Aiken scored a ridiculous goal to give Trail a 4-2 lead. Just terrific moves. Does he now have the most pure skill on this team? 16-11 shots for Merritt but Barclay had a really strong period.

...Yikes. Third period is not going Trail's way. They've got to do a better job with leads as this third period was similar to the ones in Merritt a few weeks ago. Cents score three goals and take a 5-4 lead. Gehon, Ruud and Koopman get the goals. Gehon with points on all three of them. Some trouble clearing the zone on each goal and it looks like on the last one Barclay was completely screened. Smokies (as they often do) answered right back. Mailey scored his first of the year and it was a huge goal. One thing about Trail is they don't let a little adversity get them down. If they do blow a lead, they often fight back to tie the game and sometimes get he win. 2 minutes left now and chances for both sides. Could see overtime. Great determined rush by Limbert with a minute to play draws a late penalty. He just put his head down and wasn't going to be stopped forcing the Cents to go to the box. Koopman gets the holding call. We're going to OT. Power play will carry over and be a 4 on 3 for 1:17. Shots 9-9 and 36-32 for Merritt tonight. Trail unfortunately lets Merritt at least get one point out of a game where they were up 4-2, but showed good determination in tying the game back up and we'll see what happens now.

...Overtime solves nothing. Each team had their chances, but Mainprize and Barclay shut the door. Smokies hit the post in the final minute of 3 on 3. Smokies outshot Merritt 9-4 in the OT for a total of 41-40 Trail. How rare is it for a team to put up 85 shots in two games and only get a tie out of it? Keep doing that and you'll win more often than not. They'll walk away from this back to back home series against Merritt with only 1 out of 4 points. The recent home stand is now over and Trail goes 2-3-1 in 6 games. If I had told you that they'd only win 2 of 6 games I bet you'd never have guessed the wins would be against Salmon Arm and Penticton. This Interior Conference is just getting more and more competitive right now.

Merritt isn't playing like a last place team anymore. They've added talent and they're going to start challenging for a better spot in the standings. It's up to teams like Trail to prove that they deserve to be in the playoffs over the next couple of months.

FINAL SCORE: Trail 5 Merritt 5