Saturday, August 30, 2008

Exhibition Game 4: Smokies 4 Merritt 1

(Paul Mailey's line with CJ Legassic and Andrew Pickering made a big impact on the game. Photo by Randy Emery.)


First Period

No Scoring

Second Period

1. (PP) Merritt - #22 Devin Hobbs from #8 Todd Fletcher and #14 Brian Kang (1:42)

2. Trail - #4 Steven Koshey from #25 Paul Mailey and #22 Justin Brown (14:31)

3. (PP) Trail - #27 Patrick Martin from #18 James Kellington and #23 Travis St. Denis (15:25)

Third Period

4. Trail - #19 C.J. Legassic from #16 Andrew Pickering (5:41)
(Long shot from along the left wing boards handcuffs Nielson)

5. Trail - #16 Andrew Pickering from C.J. Legassic (13:56)
(Legassic's point shot bounces off the boards back into the crease for Pickering to knock it in)


First Period

1. Merritt - #2 Matt Mazzarolo 2 minutes for high sticking (1:23)

2. Merritt - #7 Jake Baker 2 minutes for high sticking (3:10)

3. Trail - #20 Jadon Porterfield 2 minutes for hooking (7:37)

4. Trail - #2 Graeme Strukoff 2 minutes for checking from behind and a game misconduct (10:36)

5. Merritt - #6 Steve MacDonald 2 minutes for hooking (15:08)

6. Trail - #3 Patrick Raley 2 minutes for interference (19:58)

Second Period

7. Merritt - #7 Jake Baker 2 minutes for tripping (2:06)

8/9. Co-incidental minors for roughing... didn't catch the names (14:09)

10. Merritt - #11 Casey Fratkin 2 minutes for high sticking (14:56)

Third Period

11. Trail - #16 Andrew Pickering 2 minutes for high sticking (2:29)

12. Merritt - #8 Todd Fletcher 2 minutes for tripping (5:55)

13. Merritt - #18 Dustin Johnson 2 minutes for slashing (15:11)


Trail: 1 for 7
Merritt: 1 for 4


Trail: Paul Barclay stopped 26 of 27 shots

Merritt: Kyle Nielsen stopped 40 of 44 shots

(No particular order)

Justin Brown (91) - Kyle St. Denis (92) - Patrick Martin (88)
Jacob Perich (91) - Tyler Tusonian (90) - James Kellington (91)
CJ Legassic (90) - Andrew Pickering (89) - Paul Mailey (90)
Taylor Quinn (88) - Riley Loyst (89) - Jadon Porterfield (88)

Pairings I'm not sure of because Strukoff got kicked out of the game early. These are just the guys that played but I'm not sure who the set pairings were supposed to be.

Shane Oatway (90) - Patrick Raley (89)
Dan DeKeyser (90) - Braden Kinnebrew (89)
Steven Koshey (90) - Graeme Strukoff (91)

Last night's top line of Bulach, Gehon and Boisvert all had the night off. We didn't see any of the former Smoke Eaters in either game. (EDIT: Brian Kang did play both games and is a former Smoke Eater. Thanks to the comment for reminding me. None of last year's Smokies got into the line-up though) Brad Davis didn't make the trip from Merritt while Cam Brodie and Dylan Herold were in the stands lats night and this afternoon. I had a chance to talk to them though and they both sound very enthusiastic about the opportunities they'll have in Merritt. I'd love to see Herold put up a ton of points and Brodie establish himself as a clear cut #1 in this league. There's no reason they can't do that with the ice time they should be able to earn. Both have the right attitude and will be missed here.


I'm just going to pick guys from Trail for the exhibition games here. In the future I would gladly include players from the other team, but I've been heavily focusing on the Smokies players throughout these games so I can get a sense of what they bring to the table.

1. Andrew Pickering (1G, 1A) - Drove the net hard, had great chemistry with Legassic and Mailey, back checked hard, hits, digs for pucks in the corner and made some nice offensive playes. Looks like Trail has found their second line. Legassic and Mailey both easily could have been stars in the game.

2. Paul Barclay (26 saves on 27 shots) - Absolutely rock solid in his two game so far. He's playing with a new level of poise and confidence. While more pucks are hitting him instead of him having to reach for them, he continues to display his athletic ability and flexibility. Both Barclay and Raimondo are very athletic goalies. In talking to him I get the sense that Paul has a renewed passion for the game and is ready to take his play to the next level. This veteran pair in Trail's net is going to make life a lot easier on the young team.

3. Travis St. Denis (1A) - While others may have produced more, St. Denis made something happen whenever he was on the ice. His line with Justin Brown (who is significantly stronger and faster than he was last year) and Patrick Martin (who has some underrated offensive chops) gave Merritt fits all night. I'm not the only one who noticed that whenever St. Denis was on the ice he made something happen. His speed, creativity and hockey sense are going to make it very difficult for Trail to send him to Junior B. He may be small and only 16 years old, but Travis looks like a player who can make an impact in the BCHL right now. Will he get hit? Sure, but if today is any indication he'll also get right back up. If he, Koshey, Brown and Quinn all end up staying in Trail that's quite a chunk of last year's excellent Beaver Valley team making the leap to the Smokies. It would also mean that St. Denis never ends up playing for them. That's how diffcult life can be recruiting for Junior B teams. It's the same for Nelson who carded Strukoff and now he's almost a sure thing to play in Trail. KIJHL squads never know if the guys they recruit are going to end up making the leap. As for St. Denis, he's clearly showing that his family's hockey talent didn't skip him.

(Kellington can't quite put the puck in during the play of the game. Photo by Randy Emery.)


Defenceman Dan DeKeyser set up behind his own net and launched the puck in the air up the middle of the ice right on to the tape of James Kellington's stick at the Merritt blue line. It was a picture perfect passing play. Kellington couldn't put the puck in behind Nielsen, but the play was a thing of beauty.


That does it for the exhibition season. The Smokies have a lot of stuff planned for the home opener and for entertainment at the game all season long. When we get more official details I'll pass them on. Lets try and fill Cominco Arena next Saturday night when the defending BCHL champions from Penticton come to town. The boys are doing their part in creating enthusiasm with a 3-1 record in exhibition play. My own questions about goal scoring got put on hold this weekend when they put up 8 goals in two games, doubling their out put from the Powell River contests. The locker room seems positive, enthusiastic and united. There's a ton of young talent that may take some time to gel, but it's going to be exciting to watch.

I'll have some more thoughts from the two exhibition games, post game audio and season preview material coming up in the next few days on the blog and on Mountain FM's Overtime from 6pm to Midnight weekdays at 104.1 FM in Trail. If you have any thoughts or questions feel free to send me an e-mail at or

In the mean time, enjoy Beaver Valley at Nelson tonight at 7, Nelson at Beaver Valley tomorrow at 1pm and the money round of the Grand Forks International Baseball Tournament tomorrow and Monday. I know I'll be doing my best to get all around the Kootenay Boundary for the rest of this busy long weekend.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Exhibition Game 3: Smokies 4 Merritt 2

(Ryan Bulach putting in a gorgeous pass from Gehon. Picture by Randy Emery.)

I'm in a rush so I'll talk more about what I liked sometime tomorrow. For now I'll leave you with basics.

First Period

1. Merritt Goal: McDonald from Devin Hobbs

2. Merritt Goal: Brian Kang from Devin Hobbs (PP)

Second Period

3. Trail Goal: Ryan Bulach from Chad Gehon
(beautiful cross crease pass from Gehon for a tap in by Bulach)

Third Period

Jadon Porterfield and Tyler Barr fight right off the draw. Porterfield gets some shots in but loses his balance and Barr feeds him a couple of time son the way down. Both get kicked out.

4. Trail Goal: Paul Mailey from CJ Legassic and Andrew Pickering
(terrific moves by Legassic down his off wing into a cross crease pass that Mailey tapped in)

5. Trail Goal: JF Boisvert from Graeme Strukoff (PP)
(Smokies get caught in their own zone until Strukoff makes an outstanding outlet pass to Boisvert at the Merritt blue line for a breakaway that Boisvert wrists in on his forehand)

CJ Legassic and Zalba get into it and have a pretty good tilt. Legassic gets free of the wrestling and throws a few nice shots in. Again both players get ejected.

6. Trail Goal: Andrew Pickering from Jayson Reardon
(Reardon fires a good low point shot that Pickering knocks in on the rebound)


Trail's Marco Raimondo stopped 25 of 27 shots for the win

Merritt's Graeme Gordon stopped 30 of 34

(CJ Legassic in action, once again from Randy Emery.)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Exhibition Game 2: Powell River 4 Smokies 2

Trail's goals were scored by Riley Loyst and Andrew Pickering. Local defenceman Steven Koshey got the assist on both of them. I've liked what I've seen from both Loyst and Pickering in camp. They seem to have a nose for the net. When I noticed them it was usually somewhere around that crease area. The Smokies need that. So there were four different goal scorers in the Princeton games. Splitting two games with a tough Powell River team certainly isn't a bad result. Lets see how they do against a physically imposing Merritt squad.

I talked to Coach Jim Ingram after the game tonight. He says the Smokies really didn't wake up until the final 15 minutes of the game. It's possible we'll see some efforts like this as the very young team adjusts to each other and the BCHL. That being said, the coaches also tell me that this group is showing the kind of passion, work effort and desire they were hoping for. Assistant Brian Youngson told me before the game that the players are doing little things even now that they couldn't get last year's team to do.

Ingram says Rusty Abbott played a nice game in net for Trail. The young goaltender's story is an interesting one. He impressed everyone at the spring camp despite being at his linebacker weight after the football season. The coaches asked him to drop the weight and Abbott was able to knock off 40 pounds before reporting to Trail. He has been very good in camp. Rusty had a shut out during the scrimmages, he let in the fewest goals during the inter squad game, and he's impressing people with his commitment. Paul Barclay's return and strong performance makes it hard to imagine that Abbott would make the team, but he is certainly making an impression. If he doesn't make the team I could certainly imagine him playing for a local KIJHL with the Smokies keeping a very close eye on him.

While the forward group on the ice tonight was largely the same as last night, it was a very different group on the back end. 92 forward Travis St. Denis made his exhibition debut tonight, but that was the only change up front. However, only Eric Gethers played both games on the blue line. That must mean they've giving the former Beaver Valley Nitehawk (who played some Junior A hockey in Ontario) a long look. I guess Tuesday night's group had a better time out there. In talking to the coaching staff and others close to the team it's obvious the Smokies are facing some seriously tough choices with their defencemen. You would think the injuries to Jimmy Geerin and Shane Oatway would make it tough for the Smoke Eaters to fill their defensive depth chart. Instead they are still having a hard time cutting enough guy to fit under the roster rules. A couple of guys who end up cut by Trail will still be Junior A level players. It's a tough situation but a great problem to have.

It's also interesting to note that Wade Waters got the win for Powell River. He had a very strong showing at the Smokies camp last year. I'm glad to see him catching on with the Kings. Waters had an excellent year for Creston in the KIJHL and he deserves the chance.

Goal scoring is still a concern for Trail. Four goals in two games is not a disaster, but it would be nice to see a little more of an offensive output for the Smokies on Friday and Saturday against Merritt. That being said, championships are built from the net out. Strong veteran goaltending and a deep, creative and poised blue line is something any team in this league would love to have. The Smokies just need to put the right guys in the right situations to get that production they need from their forwards.

After a couple more cuts tomorrow Trail will be much closer to their opening day roster when they play Merritt this weekend. Welcome your new Smoke Eaters to Trail this Friday and Saturday. Welcome Cam Brodie, Brad Davis and Dylan Herold back to Trail this weekend. Welcome hockey back to our lives! I know I can't wait. Remember the start times are 7pm on Friday and 2pm on Saturday. Hope to see you there.

Tomorrow I should have some audio up from Brian Youngson and Jim Ingram sometime in the early evening. I like what I'm hearing from the coach so far this year. I sense optimism in his voice. This will be an exciting, hard working, passionate, young hockey team. Bring your Orange and Black this Friday. Lets drop that puck.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Exhibition Game 1: Smokies 2 Powell River 1

I just got a report from Coach Jim Ingram that the Trail Smoke Eaters beat Powell River 2-1 in the first exhibition game of the season for the Smokies. The two teams are playing a two game set in Princeton. Paul Barclay played the whole game in net for the Smoke Eaters. He stopped 24 of 25 shots for the win. Welcome back, Paul! Captain Ryan Bulach and rookie defenceman Graeme Strukoff had Trail's goals. They'll play again tomorrow night at 7pm. I don't know much about the game, but a win to start the season is certainly at least a good omen.

Just for the record, AM Ford Trail Smoke Eaters Hockey broadcasts don't start on Mountain FM until the first road game of the regular season. We will be live at all home games with updates but not full play by play coverage.

The Smokies will be back at Cominco Arena for two games with Merritt this weekend. Friday's game time is 7pm. Saturday's is a rare 2pm start. Hope to see you all out there.

Tomorrow is also the start of the Grand Forks International Baseball tournament. Mountain FM will be on top of the event all week. Listen to Overtime from 6pm to Midnight for all the latest.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday Morning Audio

Here's some audio from interviews I did mostly yesterday after the inter squad game. Remember you can hear most of these interviews for the first time on Mountain FM's Overtime where we have new coverage of the Smokies and all local hockey every night from 6pm to Midnight. The Simon Wheeldon audio is from an interview earlier this month where he discusses carding Graeme Strukoff. Looks like Simon and the Leafs may not get him, but he told me at the game he's very glad for Strukoff.

Black vs. White Game


1. BLACK - Chad Gehon from JF Boisvert and Ryan Bulach
(Back hand tap in after a scramble in front)

2. WHITE - Tyler Tusonian from CJ Legassic
(Quick rush down the left side on Tusonian's off wing, makes a sweet move and puts the puck upstairs on Marco Raimondo)

3. BLACK - Graeme Strukoff
(Quick shot from the half boards hits something in front and goes in behind Ben Meisner)

4. WHITE - Sam Corcoran from Derek Tyron
(Raley and Koshey leave Corcoran open behind them as they start the rush but Tyron is able to hold the puck in and feed it to a wide open Corcoran in front who goes top corner on Raimondo)

5. WHITE - Ryan Komari from Tommy Rizzardo and Patrick Martin
(I'm not entirely sure on this one but I believe Rizzardo gets the puck in front into traffic where Komari is able to put a low backhand into the net)

***At this point Rusty Abbott replaces Marco Raimondo and Paul Barclay replaces Ben Meisner in goal***

6. BLACK - Chad Gehon (2) from Patrick Raley
(I missed the goal but am told Raley's shot went off the back boards and in front where Gehon put it home)

7. WHITE (PP) - CJ Legassic from Tyler Tusonian and Paul Mailey
(Legassic with a quick, hard shot on a well played PP)

8. BLACK - Travis St. Denis from Graeme Strukoff and Brandon Clark
(St. Denis knocks a backhand in after a ton of pressure with just over 10 seconds left in the game and Tusonian missed an empty net that would have iced the game for White)

9. BLACK - Riley Loyst from Jadon Porterfield and Kyle Leung
(Good pressure in front of the net and a bad bounce for White turns into a Loyst winner)

GAME NOTES: (Just random thoughts I wrote down during the game)
  • Chad Gehon with two goals
  • Tyler Tusonian, CJ Legassic and Graeme Strukoff with two points.
  • Rusty Abbott had the statistically strongest performance in goal as he only let in one goal in his half of the game. That's been a theme for Abbot throughout camp.
  • Brandon Clark is very smooth with a strong and accurate shot.
  • Terrific move by Tusonian on the goal.
  • Gehon, Bulach and Boisvert look strong as a possible top line.
  • Gehon and Bulach's chemistry is obvious in the passes they're making. They seem to know where each other are going to be.
  • F Jacob Perich threw a couple of nice hits despite not being all that big of a guy.
  • D Skyler Smutek seems to play a very fast an aggressive game.
  • F Justin Brown is going to the net, digging in the corners and looks to be a lot stronger this year.
  • D Jayson Reardon gets a roughing penalty.
  • F Paul Mailey goes off for hooking.
  • Meisner and Raimondo looking calm and sharp in net.
  • D Patrick Raley looks to be in better shape, stronger and more confident.
  • Clark jumps into the rush effortless and nearly scores.
  • D Tommy Rizzardo with some nice moves and a very solid pass for a scoring chance.
  • Raley and D Steven Koshey somehow leave Sam Corcoran alone behind them and he scores.
  • Boisvert nearly took a run at Meisner in goal and then slashes his glove when he's got the puck. Gets a penalty for it. Aggressive guy who apparently looked really good in a fight early this week in camp.
  • D Liam Gorges is playing a smooth game and seems to have nice hands. Liam is the cousin of Montreal Canadiens D Josh Goerges.
  • Boisvert came out of the box a little slow and let White take advantage of the extra man to score their third goal.
  • Mailey uses a quick burst of speed to draw a tripping penalty on Koshey. White takes advantage of it with their fourth goal.
  • D Graeme Strukoff is impressing everyone in the crowd. I've had four or five people talk to me about him including officials from other local junior teams. He's looking very poised, making quick decisions. Has a good, hard, low slap shot and quick release when pressured.
  • G Paul Barclay is back in camp looking very relaxed and confident. His love for the game is back after nearly quitting the sport to start his personal training in April.
  • F CJ Legassic is firing some strong, accurate wrist shots towards the net. He's fast and aggressive with wicked hands. A guy who can get under your skin and play.
  • D Braden Kinnebrew goes off for tripping. Missesd the penalty.
  • F Jeff Jones with a great set up for F Thomas Abenante that Baclay stops.
  • Barclay with the save of the game diving across his entire net to rob Gehon on a cross crease pass. Spectacular athletic stop had the whole crowd buzzing.
  • F Travis St. Denis and Brown crate some great pressure down low and Barclay again denies them.
  • F Scott Jago made a strong drive to the net and into the corner.
  • F Andrew Pickering goes off for a penalty I missed.
  • F Dylan Walchuk is a 16 year old from Kamloops that is showing some hard work and good creativity. Both Walchuk and St. Denis are making it hard to send away the youngsters.
  • Clark is throwing his weight around on the penalty kill with two solid hits and some smart position play. He's going to anchor a strong blue line.
  • Gehon is buzzing all around the net. The puck seems to be following him.
  • Kinnebrew takes his second penalty, this time for high sticking.
  • Raley takes a spill and Perich nearly beats Abbott on a nice backhand deke. Rusy was able to get the back of his pad on the puck to keep it out.
  • Koshey with a big one time slapper that Barclay stops.
  • Walchuk with a heads up steal in the offensive zone and gets a quick shot on Abbott.
  • Nice neutral zone hit by Jones.
  • Bulach seems to have some nice jump and looks energized even late in the game.
  • Tusonian misses a sure thing empty netter to the put the game away. St. Denis nearly scores once before getting another chance and knocking it in.
  • Team Black Coach Corey Ross says after the game he got screwed by three bad bounces. That's hockey, Corey! Ross gets beat by a rookie behind the bench, former Smoke Eater Travis Gawryletz. Maybe something he can do when he's finished his pro career. For now, Travis off to the Binghamton AHL camp in September.
It was great to be back at the rink yesterday for game action. Very nice to see friendly and familar faces sitting or standing in their usual spots. Even if it was just an inter squad game, I'm practically giddy that we have hockey back. That's not a very macho word is it? On Sunday two full teams of potential Smoke Eaters did battle to try and win spots on the team.

It was a really tough day for coaches and players. Sunday also marked cut down day for the team. After the morning scrimmages a number of players were let go, and even more went home after the inter squad game. It'll be easy enough for fans to figure out who isn't around anymore on their own so I don't want to linger on it. I can't imagine how hard it is for a coach to have to tell someone that they didn't make it. Especially when that player was counting on making it. That's one of the many times I'm glad I just broadcast the games.

The Smokies have had a lot of hard working, talented players in training camp. It's a testament to the hard work of the ever expanding hockey operations department. From the coaching staff to the scouts they've made every effort to re-stock this franchise. Hopefully a number of the younger players who didn't make it this year will stay in touch and work their way onto the team after another year of development.

The Black vs. White game itself was fun to watch. The second half was a little sloppy as both teams were showing some fatigue after a long week and morning scrimmages. However, it's obvious there's a lot of talent. Everyone at the rink was talking about the blue line. The feeling is that 8 to 10 of the guys in camp could make most BCHL teams. That doesn't even include Jimmy Geerin and Shane Oatway who are out with injuries. That's obviously very promising, but also means the coaching staff has some hard decisions to make in the next week. I don't envy their choices. I honestly can't really decide who I wouldn't keep from the group we saw play today. That'll make these pre-season games even more important. We know Kinnebrew and Raley. We heard about Clark, Koshey, Smutek and Reardon. Now Strukoff, Smith, Gethers, Dekeyser, Rizzardo and Gorges and making strong cases for themselves. I wish I could get to Princeton to see those games with Powell River.

I think there is also a tremendous battle for the final few roster spots up front. I'd say they have a pretty good idea who at least 9 or 10 of the forwards are going to be. However, 4 or 5 spots are still wide open for the remaining guys. That's how I see it, but I'm sure the coaches have a better idea what they're looking for. Basically there is still a lot on the line in the exhibition games.

Overall I love what I'm seeing on defence and in net. I think there are some dynamic players up front. Gehon and Bulach should do some great things together. Mailey, Boisvert, Legassic, Tusonian and a few others were showing nice offensive upsides. Lots of hard workers. However, I would say if there was anything the team had to address at this point it would be to add more goal scoring. I know one guy they were hoping could put points up is James Kellington, but he had to sit out today's game with what I'm told is a minor injury. There are certainly capeable forwards on the team, but I think we're more likely going to see 2-1 and 3-2 wins than 6-5 or 7-4. We're also likely going to see a lot of the scoring generated by the dynamic defencemen.


I was surprised to see Paul Barclay back in uniform this weekend. I had talked to goaltending coach Pasco Valana earlier this week and knew Barclay was looking to get back into the game. However, Valana said at the time that Paul was mainly looking at Western Hockey League options. Barclay's reality is that he could start a lucritive career right now if he wanted to. He's in better shape than almost any player in the league and had a job lined up as a personal trainer. Apparently when Barclay was playing this summer with some of the pros and semi-pros he was training, they told him that he'd be nuts to give up hockey. Barclay had told the Smoke Eaters in April he was going to give hockey up so they moved on and traded for Marco Raimondo. This week the two sides talked again and decided to get together and see what happens. I'm excited to see him back. Paul seems energized and more confident than I've ever seen him. If he is staying Trail will only be richer for having two reliable, athletic, veteran BCHL goaltenders. Plus he's a familiar face in a dressing room of strangers for me right now.

Barclay gave the fans a taste of what he can do in the Black/White game. His cross crease diving save is a part of the athletic package that could absolutely make him a starter in the BCHL. I'm sure the Smokies will go with Raimondo to start the season, but it's good to know they have options.

Ultimately, I'm just glad Paul Baclay didn't give up on his obvious gift. He's got a new lease on his hockey life. Lets see where it takes him.

(...and now he can give me some work out tips to get rid of this summer beer belly I seem to have put on. I blame open bars at Italian weddings!)


Team Black

G Marco Raimondo 88
G Rusty Abott 91
D Brandon Clark 88
D Graeme Strukoff 91
D Steven Koshey 90
D Patrick Raley 89
D Eric Smith 91
D Eric Gethers 89
F Chad Gehon 88
F Ryan Bulach 88
F JF Boisvert 89
F Richard Hubscher 91
F Travis St. Denis 92
F Andrew Pickering 89
F Justin Brown 91
F Riley Loyst 89
F Jeff Jones 91
F Thomas Abanante 90
F Jadon Porterfield 88
F Kyle Leung 90

Team White

G Paul Barclay 89
G Ben Meisner 90
D Skyle Smutek 90
D Dan Dekeyser 90
D Jayson Reardon 90
D Braden Kinnebrew 89
D Tommy Rizzardo 90
D Liam Gorges 90
F Paul Mailey 90
F Tyler Tusonian 90
F CJ Legassic 90
F Jacob Perich 91
F Dylan Walchuk 92
F Trevor Kang 91
F Corey Allen 90
F Patrik Martin 88
F Ryan Komari 89
F Sam Corcoran 89
F Scott Jago 89
F Derek Tryon 90

Thursday, August 21, 2008

More Training Camp Audio

Don't have a lot of time but I wanted to pass on some audio from camp today. If you want to check out the action it's all very organized. They even have a list of the players on each team so you can follow it. Incidently, Jimmy Geerin and Shane Oatway are not at camp right now due to injuries. Both defencemen should be with the Smokies by fall.

Great to see more depth in the hockey department for the Smokies. That will go a long way towards building a strong program. Ross is still16 but obviously has a future with Trail if he wants it. It's just a matter of when. Meisner had a very strong career in Ontario prep school, and I think he could have the inside track at the second goaltending position for the Smokies.

Jago returns to Smokies camp after having to leave the team last season to fight a winning battle with cancer. Great to see him back. Quinn faces an uphill battle as a 20 year old trying to make it to the BCHL. His heart, determination, leadership and goal scoring sure made a big impact for the BV Nitehawks in the playoffs last year. No team can have enough of that. I'll have more information on what I thought about the first day of camp tomorrow on this blog.

Check the Smokies official website for the full schedule. Scrimmage starts at 5:30 tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Pre-Camp Audio

Smoke Eaters training camp gets officially started tomorrow morning at 11:30am. While it may seem like a quick return to hockey for some, I feel like the wait has been way too long. It may be August but I'm really excited for another year of Smokies hockey. The team held a "Summer Skate" on Monday and Tuesday with players from around the region who wanted to make an impression on the team. It was also a chance for some new faces to get onto the Cominco Arena ice for the first time. I had a chance to watch the early scrimmage on Monday. Andrew Pickering was the first player to catch my eye at camp. Seems to have a good shot and quick release, plus he was working hard and smart on the back check. Hard to even know who you're looking at when you're just seeing them for the first time and don't have a list of numbers though. I'm excited to see these players that we've only just been talking about all summer.

I talked to Jim Ingram, Marco Raimondo and JF Boisvert after the first scrimmage. We'll have more audio from Day 1 of camp tomorrow night on Overtime. Here's a link to the first few interviews of the new season.

I also ran in to former Smokies Captain Kevin Limbert who is just a few days away from leaving for Yale. I want to wish all the former Smoke Eaters and BCHL stars good luck wherever they ended up this year. I know I'll be doing my best to keep you all up to date on how they're doing.

I promised that picture from Alaska but I don't have it on this computer right now. We'll get that up here sometime in the next couple of days. Expect more audio as well. This is an exciting time as the Smokies have a lot of roster spots to fill and the camp should be very competitive.

11:30am to 10pm tomorrow! See you there.

Friday, August 15, 2008

California Dreamin'

The Trail Smoke Eaters will have another California product on the Cominco Arena ice this season. Tyler Tosunian actually comes from the same home town as former Smokie August Aiken. Both are skilled forwards from Whittier, CA. Coach Jim Ingram says Tosunian plays a similar game to Aiken. Hopefully he'll be able to help replace the production Trail will lose now that August is heading up to Alaska to start his NCAA career. Ingram actually carded Tosunian site unseen. He relied on glowing scouting reports from a number of different people the coach trusts. It'll be interesting to see all the players from around North America as they come together for training camp. There are a lot of impressive statistics, but it's hard to know what we have here until you actually see the guys play. Ingram is expecting a competitive camp with tons of spots up for grabs.

Tosunian scored 14 goals and 37 points in 41 games with the LA Junior Kings AAA Midget team last season. Click here for a link to their stats page. Tyler also played 13 games for Wichita Falls in the NAHL. He had a goal and an assist with a +1 rating and 12 PIMs. Hopefully he'll be able to increase that production as he returns to junior hockey this season with an extra year of experience and physical maturity. The 1990 born forward stood 5'7 and came in at 165lbs last year. Those numbers will probably be a little different at training camp this year, but it looks like he's going to be a smaller, shiftier offensive player.

For more information on Tosunian check out the interviews I did with him and Jim Ingram on Mountain FM's Overtime.

This blog is going to get a lot more active as we get set for training camp. The Smoke Eaters will be on the ice on Monday and Tuesday with a bunch of local players. If you're 15-20 years old and interested in getting in some practice and scrimmage contact the Smokies office before Monday. Check out for more details.

Trail will also have four exhibition games this pre-season. They'll play Powell River on the 26th and 27th in Princeton before coming home for games on the 29th and 30th against Merritt. It'll be nice to see former Smokies Cam Brodie, Brad Davis and Dylan Herold back in town so early.

In the next couple of days we'll have some more audio from Jim Ingram leading into camp. I also have a neat picture to post from a trip a couple of Smokies took to Alaska to visit their former teammates from the northern state. Apparently the boys are pretty good fishermen.

Younger Getting Hitched

I just want to quickly congratulate Smokies Assistant Coach Brian Youngson as he ties the knot this weekend. I don't want to reveal any more personal information than that so I'll just say they're both very lucky and I wish them well in their long journey together. Plus I owe them both big time for introducing me to a certain someone...

Play By Play Returns to Mountain FM

Lastly I wanted to announce happily that AM Ford Trail Smoke Eaters Hockey will return this year to Mountain FM. We'll be proudly broadcasting every road game on the Smokies schedule. We're also going to be actively involved in helping to promote the hockey team and add some extra entertainment to home games. The Smoke Eaters are committed this year to not only improving the on ice product, but the off ice product as well. They've hired a marketing man and Jack is going to do a great job getting things lined up this year. As a community owned organization the Smokies don't have the resources other teams have for promotions, but we're all going to work together this year to try to bring some extra entertainment to the rink and the community. I personally will be working hard to make sure our broadcasts of the road games do the best job we can do at painting the picture of the action you have to miss while your Smoke Eaters are on the road.

Get your season tickets over at Remax in Trail. It's going to be a fun year.

Frankly I'm itching to get going. Off season is too long! In the mean time you should all do your best to check out the BC Summer Swimming Provincials at the Trail Aquatic Centre this weekend. The Kootenay swimmers have been doing a great job representing our regions, and the volunteers have put on a terrific show.

See you at the rink!