(Paul Mailey's line with CJ Legassic and Andrew Pickering made a big impact on the game. Photo by Randy Emery.)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
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.