Thursday, October 30, 2008

Interview with Salmon Arm's Coach

Download Shawn Mullin - Rylan Ferster Interview

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Guess Whose Back?

(Marco Raimondo in action - Photo Randy Emery)

Marco Raimondo is back in town after recovering from his injury in Montreal. The original estimate had Marco missing close to two months of action. Instead, it looks like the athletic 20 year old goaltender is going to be back on the bench for the Smokies this weekend when they play the top ranked Salmon Arm Silverbacks in a home and home.

Will Marco be at 100%? I doubt it. Frankly I'd be surprised if he saw any action when he only returned to practice today. However, you know he's got to be itching to get back into things. As a twenty year old with a lot of talent, this year is Marco's last chance to earn himself a scholarship. He's got the ability to do it. I'm sure he also wants to be part of what has been happening here in Trail. The Smokies are playing the best hockey they have in years and have as good a vibe among the boys on this team as any group I've seen.

Marco is of course going to have to prove himself anytime he gets a chance to play. Paul Barclay has been terrific as Trail's go to guy over the past month. He's been between the pipes as the Smokies climbed to top spot in the Interior Conference and were ranked nationally. There's certainly no urgent need to rush Marco back in.

Of course it'll be nice to get Barclay a rest here and there! He may be one of the better conditioned athletes in the league, but everybody needs a break. I know he was battling a little bit of sickness early this week. I'm sure he'll be ready to go this weekend.

The return of Raimondo puts Trail back in the admirable position they were in before. They've got two goaltenders who could start for most teams in Junior A. Two veterans that could be #1 on their own that will keep pushing each other as they battle for wins and for starts. If one isn't hot, the other one likely will be. It's as much talent in goal as any team in this league could hope to have.

They'll need all the help they can get against the potent Salmon Arm scoring machine this weekend!

Wednesday Notes

Lots of stuff to get to. The good news is that Marco is going to be back this weekend as the back-up goaltender situation was getting iffy. Jason Greenwell joined the Smokies from Fernie to serve as the regular back-up while Marco was out, but he got injured in practice as well! He served the Smokeis well and has now returned to Fernie to heal and prepare to defend the KIJHL championship. Those Ghostriders could end up winning three consecutive league crowns if things go well again this year. See more on Marco in the post just above this one.

Alex Ross could be the goalie of the future for the Smokies and he got a taste of the Junior A life with a couple of games as back-up. While he's playing well for the Kootenay Major Midget Ice right now, Ross could be back in the orange and black again some day. Wall also was very good to come in and help out the team last minute on Saturday. It didn't really end up mattering who was on the bench for Trail because Barclay did a great job the whole time Raimondo was away.

For now I think the Smokies brass are just happy to see Marco back. I'm sure he'll be back to form in no time. Can't wait to see he and Barclay pushing each other again.


After two weeks in the CJAHL Top 15, the Smokies dropped out with a 1-2 week and two pretty bad losses. The 5-0 loss to Penticton was a pretty ugly display on Trail's part and that was probably enough for them to slip out of the rankings. The first period against Westside was also pretty ugly. The Smokies played perhaps their best game of the year against Victoria, and their second and third against Westside was not bad... but not enough to keep them in the top 15. That being said, the Smokies did play a part in bringing Victoria down the ladder.

The CJAHL Top 15 as of Saturday, October 25th

1.(1) Humboldt Broncos (SJHL)
2.(3) Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL)
3.(5) Pembroke Lumber Kings (CJHL)
4.(4) Lindsay Muskies (OJHL)
5.(6) Fort William North Stars (SIJHL)
6.(9) Les Cougars du College Champlain - Sherbrooke (LHJAAAQ)
7.(7) North Bay Skyhawks (NOJHL)
8.(8) Portage Terriers (MJHL)
9.(2) Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL)
10.(10) Georgetown Raiders (OJHL)
11.(12) Nanaimo Clippers (BCHL)
12.(14) Melville Millionaires (SJHL)
13.(NR) Salmon Arm Silverbacks (BCHL)
14.(NR) Penticton Vees (BCHL)
15.(15) Nepean Raiders (CJHL)

Honorable mention goes to the Powell River Kings (BCHL), Vernon Vipers (BCHL), Trail Smoke Eaters (BCHL), Grande Prairie Storm (AJHL), Calgary Canucks (AJHL), Winnipeg Saints (MJHL), Thunder Bay Bearcats (SIJHL), Aurora Tigers (OJHL), Huntsville Otters (OJHL), Oakville Blades (OJHL), and the Summerside Western Capitals (MJAHL).

The previously unranked Vees and Silverbacks certainly deserve their spot in the top 15. Salmon Arm is probably the hottest team in all of the CJAHL right now. Penticton had a no-show in Merritt on Sunday, but I think that was too late for the rankings anyway. Last week saw them win impressive games against Trail and Victoria. That was probably enough to nudge them back in.

It's interesting to see Victoria and Nanaimo still ranked ahead of Penticton and Salmon Arm. Wouldn't Victoria's winless road trip through the Interior indicate that perhaps they aren't (as they stand right now) better than the top teams in this conference? The Grizz dropped games on the road against Salmon Arm, Penticton, Trail and Vernon. They've also now lost to Westside in their own rink. The Interior is absolutely deadly this year. Any team could beat any team on any given night. However, they are also all very good teams. I'd be comfortable with any of the top 6 teams representing the BCHL in the Doyle Cup and eventually the RBC. You would think that the Interior's domination over Victoria would mean that their teams would be ranked ahead of the Coastal Conference squads. I'm not sure how they work it out.

Perhaps it's worth examining how Interior teams have done against Coast teams so far this season. That's something for another post.

As for Trail's spot in the rankings, they could jump right back in with two big wins over Salmon Arm this weekend. That won't be easy, but no game is going to be with the kind of competition we're seeing right now. It was a terrific accomplishment for the Smokies to get into the Top 15 with so many young players who are still coming together. It only stands to reason that as they keep getting better the Smokies should keep getting better. It wouldn't surprise me to see different Interior teams jumping in and out of the Top 15 as the season progresses. Trail is still an honourable mention so they are not far off. If you include the honourable mentions, four out of the eight Interior teams are among the best in the country. Prince George and Westside have good arguments that they are just as good as those four teams as well.


Asking what is the best thing about the new season and I have to wonder if the parents of rookies or the rookies themselves voted in this poll! The overwhelming winner of the poll was "13 rookies making an instant impact." I have to say that has been a great surprise. I knew the talent that Coach Ingram and company recruited was going to be solid, but who knew they could all jump into the line-up and perform as well as they have this soon?

This team has done things so far this year that Trail fans always ask for. They're tougher, they score at a clip as good as anyone in the conference, they are getting wins over teams that they couldn't touch last year, and they have five contributing local players.

Time for a new poll and I'll put one up on the side of the blog ASAP.


Very strange deal this week in the BCHL as Penticton picks up veteran goalie Jordan White from the Cowichan Valley Capitals. The deal involved seven teams in the BCHL, AJHL and MJHL. Penticton alone was dealing with four other teams. In talking to Penticton Coach Fred Harbinson I found out the deal was so complicated that it took more than twelve hours to complete on the final day of negotiating. It seemed to me that Anthony Borelli was coming along well for the Vees, but I guess Penticton didn't want to take their chances on a rookie tandem. White has been a starter at the RBC before (with Prince George) and has experience in the WHL. He's also a former Vee. He's got a similar resume to that of Castlegar's Alex Evin, the goalie that carried the Vees to the BCHL championship laast season.

Here's how it broke down:
  • 26-Oct-08 - The Penticton Vees Hockey Club transfers the Jr A playing rights of Chris Van Duynhoven (89)(D) and future considerations to the Cowichan Valley Capitals Hockey Club in exchange for the Jr A playing rights of Jordan White (88)(G).
  • 26-Oct-08 - The Penticton Vees Hockey Club transfers the playing rights of Brad Bourke (89)(D) and Alex Goodship (89)(F) to the Merritt Centennials Hockey Club for the Jr A playing rights of Chris Van Duynhoven (89)(D)
  • 25-Oct-08 - The Penticton Vees Hockey Club transfers the playing rights of Morgan Bell (89)(G), David Andreason (88)(F), and Jordan Wilkins and future considerations to the St. Albert Steel Hockey Club of the AJHL in exchange for the playing rights of Brad Bourke (89)(D) and Alex Goodship (89)(F).
  • 25-Oct-08 - The Penticton Vees Hockey Club transfers the playing rights of Antony Borelli (89)(G) to the Winkler Flyers Hockey Club of the MJHL in exchange for the playing rights of Morgan Bell and future considerations.
  • 23-Oct-08 - The Merritt Centennials Hockey Club transfers the playing rights of Stephen Ceccensse (89)(F) to the Surrey Eagle Hockey Club in exchange for the BCHL Jr A playing rights of Chris Van Duynhoven (89)(D).
  • 21-Oct-08 - The Burnaby Express Hockey Club transfers the playing rights of Stephen Ceccanese (89)(F), Jordan Soquila (89)(F) and Alex Valenti (89)(F) to the Merritt Centennials Hockey Club in exchange for the playing rights of Cameron Brodie (89)(D), Dylan Herold (89(F) and future considerations.

We also saw all three former Smokies leave Merritt this past week. Cam Brodie and Dylan Herold are off to Burnaby. That will probably make both young men happy as they'll be very close to home. Brodie will make any team better with his defensive skills, physical pressence and underrated offensive ability. Herold has the potential to be a big scorer in this league and hopefully he's going to get that opportunity in Burnaby. At the very least he's a good face off man and penalty killer who can play a hard nosed game.

As for Brad Davis, it looks like he has gone home. He isn't on the Merritt roster anymore and I can't say I know what happened. If Brad wants to keep playing I hope they find him another team. Maybe Quesnel as that's Brad's hometown. Davis is a guy who will give you absolutely everything he has. He became a fan favourite in Trail last year for putting everything on the line no matter how bad things were going. He's not even 200lbs and was fighting every heavy in the league. He's also quick, strong and knows how to handle play in the corners of either zone. If this is it for Davis he can hold his head high for what he brought to the table.

Speaking of Quesnel, they sent Danny McSween to Grande Prairie of the AJHL. That's too bad for the Mills as I thought McSween was one of their best players out there in the games we saw. He was especially dominanent in the 11-4 Quesnel win last month. The Mills also added young goalie Kiefer Smiley from the Cowichan Valley Capitals. If Smiley can play as well as he did last season he will be a huge help in filling the void left by Jeff Malcom's injury. However, Smiley has had a rocky start this season. We'll see if he can turn things around up north. The Mills now have three goalies carded with Malcom on long term injury. Will any of Demharter, Smiley or Karambelas emerge as the #1 who can bring Quesnel back into the playoff picture? Malcom is a hard guy to replace.


Check out the Taking Note blog for all the details:

Castlegar native Travis Green is the new Assistant GM and Assistant Coach for the WHL's Portland Winter Hawks. He'll work under new Coach and GM Mike Johnston. However, that means the end of Trail native Rich Kromm's tenure as the Portland coach. It's strange that the local connection continues as they move from one regime to the other.

This move must signal the end of Travis' playing career. He played some in Europe last year, but I guess that's it for him. Green had a very good NHL career and now steps into the coaching ranks. He's given his time to Castlegar for over a decade in promoting a local charity golf tournament. I hope he has great success in Portland.

As for Kromm, he's got coaching in his blood. Both he and former GM Ken Hodge have been offered a chance to stay with the Winter Hawks. However, I imagine Kromm will be back behind the bench somewhere before you know it.


Finally, the Trail Smoke Eaters are giving a Halloween treat to all their young fans. Any kids or students who show up at Friday night's game in costume will get in for free. If it's a good costume you could also find yourselves winning a prize! It'll be a lot of fun. The game should just start after all the kids are done their trick or treating. Just go directly from the road to the rink. Keep those costumes on and the kids get into the game at absolutely no cost! I can't think of a better way to round out what should be a terrific Friday night.

Salmon Arm will be in town on Friday and it will be another big test for Trail. We saw how they responded to the last two tough tests that came into the Cominco Arena. Exciting wins over Penticton and Victoria sent both big crowds home happy. You don't want to miss out an another fast paced, physical and skilled hockey game this Friday.

It's the best time to bring the whole family too. If you're say a family of two adults and two kids you are all basically getting in for half price if the kids come dressed up. Hope to see as many of you there as possible! Should be a blast.

By the way, adults are free to get dresed up too! Lets all get into the spirit of it. Anyone have ideas for me?

Monday, October 27, 2008

October 26 Smokies Alumni Update

I'm going to try and keep a running list of where to get statistical updates on former Smoke Eaters that are playing hockey around the globe this season. This is an incomplete list and I'll be updating it as often as I can. If you have a link to a player I have not been able to find please pass it along at

This week we saw former Smokies Cam Brodie and Dylan Herold traded from Merritt to Burnaby. Former Trail alternate captain Brad Davis is no longer in Merritt either though I'm not sure what the future holds for Brad at this point. Major changes for the Cents obviously. We also saw a 9 point weekend for Miles Houston in the KIJHL. Scott Warner picked up his first NCAA point. Chris Shudo is dominating in the CHL and Brett Skinner continues to make the case that he deserves an NHL shot.

Update: Link to Ryan Hill's profile fixed and Braden Kinnebrew (in the NAHL) added. Thanks for the e-mails!

Post-Game with the Coach

Download Shawn Mullin - Oct 25 Coach Ingram Interview

Warning: the audio quality is quite poor so I'm not able to use it on Overtim. There's lots of good stuff here though so I think it's worth posting.

AM Ford Trail Smoke Eaters Hockey: Westside 5 Trail 3

(Captain Ryan Bulach battles Captain Ron Kelly - Photo Randy Emery)

Download Shawn Mullin - Oct 25 Westside 5 Trail 3

That's the longer version of the usual highlights. For the coles notes version check out the Mountain FM website:

Here's the boxscore:

Saturday, October 25, 2008


(JF Boisvert scores the empty net goal - Photo Randy Emery)

Trail 5 Victoria 3

Saturday night the Smokies are in Westside. Listen to the broadcast of AM Ford Trail Smoke Eaters Hockey on Mountain FM at 6:45pm.

Friday, October 24, 2008

KIJHL Statement

The KIJHL released a statement on the Beaver Valley incident today. From

"The KIJHL has penalizied the Beaver Valley Nitehawks for playing an in-eligible
player in their games of Oct.3, 4, 10 and 11. The result is a default of those
four games and the loss of the eight points earned in those games. This decision
was reached by the Disipline Committee as it pertains to Regulation 26 of the
league constitution. All player stats for the teams involved remain
First of all, I'm not a great speller and I have my share of typos on this blog, but it's kind of ugly to see two spelling mistakes in one small paragraph released onto a league's official website. Spell check! They also claimed the Nitehawks lost eight points earned in those games. Beaver Valley only earned seven points in those games. They won three of them and lost one of them in a shoot out. How much can you get wrong in one paragraph?

Secondly, this doesn't really spell out what happened. If I didn't know what happened all ready I'd have thought from this release that the Nitehawks brought in some ringer that wasn't allowed to play in the league. This release begs for more detail to clarify what actually occurred. If what Terry Jones told me isn't the whole story, hopefully they'll enlighten us.

Thirdly, why would it take until now to release a statement? They should never have posted the changes to the standings on their website without first releasing a statement explaining it.

Other questions also remained unanswered. Such as what would have happened had the clerical error the Nitehawks made gone undiscovered for 30 games? The whole season? Would they have had to forfeit every single game? Should there not be a system of checks and balances to ensure that a problem with paperwork doesn't steal four games worth of hard work from the young men on that Beaver Valley team?

Thus far my calls to the league office have not been returned.

I do want to say that I'm glad the league has ensured the player stats from the involved teams remain unchanged. Those players earned their points and they are important to their futures. I'm curious about the goaltending statistics. Do the Nitehawks goaltenders get credit for their wins? Will the opposing goaltenders still be credited with losses? I'll have to do that math.

What are your thoughts?

KIJHL Controversy

A wild story out of the KIJHL this week. The league stripped the Beaver Valley Nitehawks of 7 points for playing an in-eligible player in 4 games. Before I explain things I'll let you hear about it from the horse's mouth. I had BV GM Terry Jones and Grand Forks Coach and GM Rob Fitzpatrick on Overtime tonight to explain things.

If you don't want to listen to the audio version let me do my best to explain it. The Nitehawks recruited talented young defenseman Keon Vick from Alberta. The 18 year old made an immediate impact this season. He's got 6 points in 6 games and plays a very aggressive, physical style.

Jones told me that he was sure he had Vick carded. Sure enough to play him for 4 games without any concern. However, after those games he was informed by the league that Vick hadn't been properly carded and was not in the system. Grand Forks noticed the problem and informed the league. Jones says he was able to correct the "clerical error" within 10 minutes, but that didn't stop the KIJHL from taking action.

They stripped the Nitehawks of the 7 points they earned (2 wins over Grand Forks, 1 win over Kimberly and a shoot out loss against Summerland) and gave their opponents forfeit victories. They also suspended Jones for 3 games. Jones is fine with the suspension as he knows he made a mistake, but he told me he'd rather serve a longer suspension than to have his players punished like this.

Fitzpatrick provides the other side of the issue. He says Vick made a significant difference in the games he played. It's impossible to know what would have happened in those games if Vick hadn't played so he says the forfeits are justified. At the very least that's the current rule.

I don't blame Grand Forks for their role in this, but I have to say I find this whole situation a little baffling. I think the most interesting thing Jones said to me was when he asked what would have happened if no one noticed the carding problem for the next 30 games. Would the Nitehawks have had to forfeit every one of those games?

I can understand this kind of reaction if the player had not been allowed to play in the league. However, there are no problems with Vick playing in the league now that the paperwork was done right. We're talking about a clerical error that the Nitehawks would have fixed if they knew there was a problem. I'm not saying Jones is blameless here (and neither is he) but this punishment seems inordinately extreme. Shouldn't the league bare some of the responsibility here for not being remotely aware of what's going on with the rosters? Vick was on the boxscores, he was on the website, he was in the games... nobody was hiding him. Do you think this kind of thing would have happened in the BCHL or WHL?

In a lot of ways the KIJHL is among the top Junior B leagues. The level of play is high and player development is excellent. However, things like this frankly make them look bush league. This issue absolutely must be addressed so the same kind of thing can't happen in the future.

Beaver Valley made a mistake, but it's a mistake that should never have cost the team 7 points. 7 points that may be huge difference makers come playoff time. 7 points that could be the difference between home ice and starting on the road.

It's not right.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Penticton Highlights

Here's some audio from the game:
Ugly game for the Smokies on Tuesday night in Penticton. Maybe they were in awe of the South Okanagan Events Centre? The first period was actually very even, but it seems like Manderson's early goal in the second completely took the wind out of Trail's sails. They're not going to win every game!

Coach Ingram told Jeff Sargeant on Overtime last night that people have been coming up to him after the loss worried that the wheels are falling off. Calm down, folks! It's one loss. The last time the Smokies lost a game like that they followed it up with an 8-2 victory. This team has proven several times this season that they can bounce back from a poor effort or some kind of set back. We should also remember that the Penticton Vees... they're a pretty decent hockey team. They beat Victoria tonight. They have the second best winning percentage in the league. A team that talented is sometimes going to get the best of you.

We all knew the Penticton games were going to be tough. I think Smokies fans should be happy that the team picked up four of a possible six points against the Vees so far. That they were somewhat listless in the game is a bit of a concern, but this team works too hard for anyone to think that will continue.

That doesn't mean it's win or bust on Friday night against Victoria. The Grizzlies are ranked second in Canada and have as loaded a line-up as you'll see in Junior A hockey this season. They're built to win the Royal Bank Cup and will be a great test for this young Trail team. If Trail plays like they have all month (with Tuesday's 2nd and 3rd periods as an exception) they will give Victoria a run for their money.

If there was ever a time Smokies fans should show up in droves I would think it's now. Your home team is ranked 11th in the country. The 2nd ranked team is in town. Both teams have a lot of skill and speed. It's the only time all season long the two teams will face off. You absolutely don't want to miss this. Tell your friends!

Puck drop is 7:30pm.

Incidently, we'll talk to Victoria GM Jackson Penney tomorrow night on Overtime. Listen to the show before the game gets started. We'll be there live tomorrow. Come say hi!


The new arena in Penticton is something else. Just a gorgeous building with a world class scoreboard. Coach Ingram put it best when he told me that it was basically a mini-NHL arena. The building is going to be the envy of all Junior A teams in Canada.

However, there are a couple of issues. First of all, how often are they going to get 5000 people? They even had less than 2000 for Victoria tonight. Those are great crowds for a Thursday night, but will the arena seem and sound empty when it's less than half full? I know I felt like it didn't quite have the same atmosphere as the old Memorial Arena when we were there on Tuesday. It's a better facility, but it certainly won't be as intimate.

There's something to be said for a packed crowd of 2500 versus a sparse crowd of even 3000. What do you think? It will certainly be incredible come playoff time if they can get close to a sell out.

The other thing that concerns me won't matter to any fans other than perhaps those listening to the broadcast of the games from the SOEC (I say we start calling it the Sock). The broadcast position is actually far from ideal. The press box is well on its way to being world class, but it's not a great spot for calling a game. We're positioned far into one end of the ice and way up high. When the face off is in the far end I can't see the numbers of any of the defending players. There's a reason 95% of press boxes are in the middle!

That's why I'm going to have to say that for now Vernon stands alone as the best press box in the league. Sorry Penticton. Your arena is fantastic, but I'm selfish!


Victoria has dropped both games on their Interior road trip so far. They had a rough time in Salmon Arm and lost in overtime against the Vees. The best team on the Coast isn't exactly having their way with the Interior so far. Last year Penticton won the BCHL title in convincing fashion over Nanaimo. Is it fair to say the Interior has been a little big stronger lately?

We'll see! Something to keep an eye on.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tonight's Broadcast

You can hear our broadcast of AM Ford Trail Smoke Eaters Hockey as usual on Mountain FM at 104.1 FM in Trail.

However, if you're out of our market we should be back up on the BCHL Fanzone tonight. Please let me know if the broadcast is working for you. Go to the Fanzone and try the Away broadcast. If it works or doesn't work for you please let me know at or just in a comment to the blog.


11th in Canada

The Smoke Eaters moved up four slots in the CJAHL Top 15. The list is as of October 18th so it would take Trail's 4-3 overtime win over Penticton into account. Here's the link:

The CJAHL Top 15 as of Saturday, October 18th

  1. (1) Humboldt Broncos (SJHL)
  2. (3) Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL)
  3. (5) Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL)
  4. (4) Lindsay Muskies (OJHL)
  5. (2) Pembroke Lumber Kings (CJHL)
  6. (7) Fort William North Stars (SIJHL)
  7. (6) North Bay Skyhawks (NOJHL)
  8. (8) Portage Terriers (MJHL)
  9. (10) Les Cougars du College Champlain - Sherbrooke (LHJAAAQ)
  10. (13) Georgetown Raiders (OJHL)
  11. (15) Trail Smoke Eaters (BCHL)
  12. (NR) Nanaimo Clippers (BCHL)
  13. (NR) Truro Bearcats (MJAHL)
  14. (NR) Melville Millionaires (SJHL)
  15. (14) Nepean Raiders (CJHL)

Speaking of rankings, you can head over to Ryan Pinder's veesblog to check out his weekly radio show. On it he discusses Friday's Smokies/Vees game as well as announces his updated Interior Conference power rankings. This week the Smokies fell a spot to second place with the red hot Salmon Arm Silverbacks moving into top spot. Trail didn't really do anything to lose their top spot, but as I've said before it is nearly impossible to make serious distinctions between all the top teams in the conference. Any of them could end up from first to sixth before the end of the season.

Smokies Alumni Updates

I'm going to try and keep a running list of where to get statistical updates on former Smoke Eaters that are playing hockey around the globe this season. This is an incomplete list and I'll be updating it as often as I can. If you have a link to a player I have not been able to find please pass it along at

Weekend Audio and Game Notes

(Ryan Bulach scores one of two goals on Friday - Photo Randy Emery)

Here's some recent Smokies audio from Mountain FM's Overtime:
Here's the boxscore from Friday:

The Smoke Eaters continued their winning streak with a 4-3 overtime victory over Penticton. It was like deja vu as Riley Loyst set up Brandon Clark for the winner just as he did in the first game of the regular season. It was a nice way for Loyst to return to action after missing the last few weeks with an injury. Ryan Bulach also got an assist on the goal. It was quite a night for the Smokies captain as he scored two goals in the first before helping out on the winner.

The game never should have made it to overtime as Trail had a 3-2 lead with only seconds to play. The skilled Vees pressed hard in the final minutes, but the Smokies had several chances to clear the puck away from the front of their net before Denver Manderson tied the game up. It was an unfortunate end to the period for Trail after Andrew Pickering put them ahead and they did a great job killing off an extended 5 on 3. The Smokies rebounded from the last second let down and got the victory in extra time. This team has responded positively to set backs time and time again this season. They have exceptional resolve.

(Examples of the physical game Trail has to play against the Vees - Photos Randy Emery)

While Coach Ingram felt the team played too passively in the first two periods, they had some strong individual performances. Bulach was obviously the game's top star on his 3 point night. The way he's playing and leading this team schools should be knocking down his door. Andrew Pickering extended his point scoring streak to 7 games with a nice power play goal off of Paul Mailey's feed. Brandon Clark scored his third overtime winner and fourth game winning goal of the season. Paul Barclay again put on a terrific display against the Vees. After stealing two points from Penticton to start the season, they're going to start having nightmares starring Trail's #1. They also played a strong third period and overtime to get the two points and extend their winning streak to six games.

However, the Smokies will have to bring a more complete effort for tonight's game in Penticton. The Vees were short thanks to some suspensions and injuries on Friday night. I thought Castlegar Rebels defenceman Bob Pond did a very nice job for them as an AP. Trail will have to deal with the full Penticton line-up tonight. The Vees are a tremendously skilled team who can do some amazing things with the puck and make it seem effortless. The Smokies had some success containing that skill with their hard work, smart play and a physical edge. I can think of several times when Smokies forwards and defencemen made Penticton's forwards pay a physical price in the Trail zone and the Vees weren't able to generate chances. That's the way they'll have to play.

The Smokies will have to do the things they do best. Work hard, play smart, win puck battles, bring an aggressive fore check, shoot pucks, go to the net, move the puck quickly and swiftly out of their own zone, and execute on the power play. Trail needs to throw a lot of pucks on net and look for rebounds and tip ins. The rookie Penticton goaltenders have had some trouble with consistency and the occasional soft goals. It's important to try and rattle their confidence early. The Smokies line-up is filled with guys with terrific shots who can put the puck in the net if they get a decent. Those guys have to take advantage when given the chance. They will also again need a top notch performance by Paul Barclay against Penticton's top two lines. With Manderson in the line-up, their top forward units are now both exceptionally dangerous. Of course the Smokies can say the same thing. Most teams in the BCHL would kill for one line that has produced as well as the Pickering/Gehon/Sandor line or the Bulach/Mailey/Boisvert line.

I'm not saying any of this because I believe Penticton is a better team than the Smokies, but the defending champs are still the team to beat in the Interior Conference until someone proves otherwise. Trail has made a couple of big steps in that direction at this early stage. We have to remember that the Vees have still only played three games at home and twelve overall. They've put together a .667 winning percentage even though they've played 75% of their games on the road. This isn't a team anyone can take lightly. I know the Smoke Eaters will be ready and I'm excited for the broadcast tonight. You can hear it as always on Mountain FM with AM Ford Trail Smoke Eaters Hockey. The City of Trail Pre-Game Show starts at 6:45pm on 104.1FM in Trail.

I'm looking forward to checking out the new arena in Penticton. Word is that it's fantastic. They're in for a couple of great games there this week. First the Smokies who have played two very dramatic and exciting games against Penticton. Then on Thursday the Vees will host top ranked Victoria. That's a game that everyone has been marking on their calender. Friday it's Trail's turn to host the Grizz. 2nd in the country vs. 11th in the country. The two teams with the top winning percentage in the BCHL. If you're a hockey fan in the Kootenay Boundary you'd be crazy to miss that one.


...Smokies goaltender Marco Raimondo is returning to town this week after spending some time at home in Montreal recovering from his injury. He's still a ways away from returning but it's good to hear he'll be back in Trail. Paul Barclay has been terrific since Marco was hurt. However, there's nothing better than having two all-star goaltenders on the same team.

...With Marco still out Trail will continue to rely on Jason Greenwell as their back-up. He did a fine job for the Smokies against Quesnel and should be able to step in if the need arises. I'm not sure if he'll get a start this week, but I wouldn't be surprised if he was between the pipes on Saturday against Westside. I know the Smokies have a lot of confidence in him. They also don't want to run Barclay ragged. Of course Paul is one of the best conditioned athletes in the league, so that shouldn't be too much of a problem.

...Check out some of the upgrades over at the Smokies official website. It's still in a construction phase, but they've added a new display for Randy Emery's game photos. They've also added a discussion forum. You can post your thoughts on the Smoke Eaters without having to wade into the often hostile waters of the Network 54 forum. Keep it civil and we could have a pretty good thing going there.

(Paul Barclay plays another strong game against the Vees - Photo Randy Emery)

Friday, October 17, 2008

15th in Canada (Pre-Game Notes and Audio)

Some good news for the Trail Smoke Eaters spotted in the Trail Times today. I've searched on-line and haven't been able to find a release from the CJHL, but the Times is reporting that the latest Canadian Junior A Hockey League rankings have Trail in 15th spot.

According to the Times, this is the first time since 1997 that the Smokies have found a place in the top 15. That season they were ranked as high as 8th and lost to Vernon in the Interior finals. Check out today's Trail Daily Times for more information.

Congrats to the Smoke Eaters who continue to surprise people around the hockey world. First place in the Interior, five game winning streak, top scoring team in the conference, Chad Gehon is the player of the week and now Trail is in the national rankings. Not bad for a team with 5 returning players and 13 rookies!

Anything can happen in the next 3/4 of the regular season. However, nobody can take away the start Trail has had. Lets hope that the fans respond by filling up the Cominco Arena for tonight's big showdown with the Vees.


Penticton is going to be shorthanded for tonight's game. Head on over to Ryan Pinder's veesblog and check out the latest on the Vees roster situation. Coach Fred Harbinson, F Joey Holka, D Elias Grossman and D Zach Josepher have all been suspended after what Ryan describes as a "near line brawl" against Salmon Arm last week. The Vees are also dealing with injuries to D Matt Paltridge and former Smokies D Nathan Westover. That could mean four blue liners missing the game. Talk about a huge hole to fill. It's possible that Paltridge or Westover could play, but if not we're talking about only 3 guys from the back end making it into tonight's game. Lucikly for Penticton one of them is returning star Devon Krogh.

Pinder suggests that the Vees may try to call up AP D Isaac MacLoed from the KIJHL's Nelson Leafs, but Nelson is down to 6 healthy defencemen themselves so that may not work out.

I did just hear that Penticton has called up G Andrew Walton and D Bob Pond from the Castlegar Rebels in the KIJHL for tonight's game. Walton has been to two consecutive Penticton camps and has played very well for the Rebels this season. Pond, a '91 born Penticton native has 3 points in 8 games with Castlegar so far this season. He had 10 points in 49 games last season. The 17 year old is 6'2 and 190lbs. Walton is a '91 born Castlegar native with a 4-1 record, 2.41GAA and 90.98% save percentage. He had a save percentage over 92% in 16 games last season. The call-ups are at a bad time for Castlegar as the Rebels have lost their last three heading into tonight's game in Grand Forks.

If the Vees are calling up Walton that must mean they will be without one of their two goaltenders for tonight's game. The Smokies will likely be hoping it's Anthony Borelli that will miss tonight's game. He's been by far the better of the two Penticton netminders so far this season. Trail also beat Sean Bonar in the one game between these two teams this season.

Either way it's going to be a challenge for the Vees tonight. However, anyone who remembers last year's game against a shorthanded Westside team knows that you can't take anything for granted. The Smokies will still have to work their butts off to get a win.

There will be one major difference between this team and the one we saw to start the season. Denver Manderson returned to Penticton after making the OHL's Kitchener Rangers. He chose to return to the BCHL where he won a championship with the Vees last year. He is the kind of player that can single handedly make a major difference at this level.

Check out their roster here:


Speaking of the Vees and Ryan's blog, he's got a couple of things up there that might be of interest to Smokies fans. Check out his Interior Conference Power Rankings which now have the orange and black in first spot for the first time. While it is a deserving ranking for the Smokies at this point, I still believe there is so little separating 1rst through 6th. I'd put Quesnel in that group but I think it's going to be very difficult for them to recover from an injury that puts G Jeff Malcom on the shelf for the next four months.

You can also check out an interview Ryan did with me on Boston Pizza Vees This Week on his blog. I warn you that I had only been awake for about 10 minutes when I did the interview. Ryan carried me through it. He has the whole show posted on the blog and it is well worth checking out.

A Smoke Eaters fan recently asked me why we don't do a weekly radio show on the Smokies. That's because Mountain FM has a nightly sports talk show! You can listen to get your sports fix every weeknight from 6pm to Midnight on Mountain FM at 104.1 in Trail, 99.3 in Castlegar, 103.5 in Nelson, 96.7 in Grand Forks. Tonight Overtime will be live at the Smoke Eaters game against the Vees. I really hope you come out to watch the game live, but if you absolutely can't make it we'll keep you up to date. You'd get the best of both worlds if you go to the game and take your radio with you!


I have been getting into the habit of ranking the Smokies three stars for every extended road trip. I didn't think to do that earlier this week. It's hard to separate the weekend games from the rest of the week, but I'd have to say that this past weekend it was the Gehon/Pickering/Sandor line carrying the mail for the Smokies. It's funny how one week the Bulach/Maily/Boisvert line was the straw that stirred the drink and last weekend the other big line picked up the slack. That's what it's like to have two legitimate scoring lines. When one doesn't put pucks in the other does. You've got to love having depth.

1. Chad Gehon (2G, 4A) Gehon was the BCHL's player of the week (2G, 7A for the week) and was hugely clutch in scoring Trail's winning goal on Saturday night in Prince George. The playmaker is also finding his scoring touch. Gehon is one of three Smoke Eaters (with Pickering and Boisvert) among the top 20 scorers in the BCHL.

2. Nick Sandor (0G, 5A) Sandor has thrived playing with Gehon and Pickering. It's amazing to think this young man only had 3 points all of last season with the Bulldogs. Trail is giving him a top 6 opportunity and Sandor has absolutely made the most of it. He set up both winning goals on the weekend.

3. Brandon Clark (1G, 2A) Clark scored another hugely clutch goal on Sunday to give Trail an overtime win against Quesnel. That's 3 game winning goals (2 in overtime) in 14 games. He also fired the shot that Pickering tipped in for Trail's second goal on Saturday and helped set-up the winner against the Spruce Kings with a nice pinch.

Honourable mentions: Andrew Pickering (1G, 2A), Danny DeKeyser (2G)

Pickering is riding a 6 game point scoring streak. He has also proven what he can do when given a real opportunity in a scoring role. DeKeyser scored twice on the weekend with a ridiculous wrist shot. As Coach Ingram told me, he beat the goaltenders cleanly without any screen or tip. Both shots were right in the top corner. This young man can fire the puck.


Interviews from Mountain FM's Overtime this week:
Puck drop tonight is 7:30pm at the Cominco Arena. Show the Smoke Eaters you appreciate everything they've accomplished so far this season. First place, 15th in Canada, top scoring team in the Interior, top power play in the BCHL, 3 scorers in the top 20, best 1-2 punch of enforcers in the league... I could go on and on.

This team deserves your support. The Canucks game is on early, there's no MLB game, lets fill the rink tonight! You can join Michelle and I in the arena's parking lot this evening as we do a shoot out for Smokies tickets. Come check it out and you could get into the game for free. Otherwise I hope to see as many of you as possible tonight.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Weekend Audio Summaries

Two more wins this weekend for the first place Smoke Eaters. I'll have more to come on this shortly. For now here's the audio summaries of our broadcasts on AM Ford Trail Smoke Eaters Hockey on Mountain FM.

Congrats to Smoke Eaters forward Chad Gehon for winning the BCHL's player of the week! Check out for more information.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Game 13: Trail 3 Prince George 2, Still First Place!

Happy Thanksgiving Smokies fans! I'm sure you are all giving thanks for a first place team. I'm giving thanks that I just heard I'll be getting some turkey on Monday even though I had to miss the turkey dinner Sunday night.

Tonight's boxscore:

While Prince George took top spot in the Interior back with a win over Quesnel on Friday, the Smokies grabbed it right back with their victory tonight. Trail and Vernon are tied for top spot in the Interior, but the Vipers have played one fewer game and Trail has the head to head victory. I know that first place in October counts for nothing come March. I do think it matters though. Being in first place right now should create some extra confidence in this young team. It'll help them believe that they belong and that they can compete and beat any team in the BCHL. I think being on top will also create higher expectations for this team. Now that they've made it to the top spot in the conference I believe they're going to want badly want to stay there. Once you get a taste for it you want more.

So come on Trail, you've got a first place team here. Lets see you on Friday against Penticton.

As for tonight's game, we again saw a terrific and tight battle with Prince George. I'd almost want to play them every game. They've all been dramatic and a blast to call. Listen for clips of the game on the blog early this week. Stay tuned to Mountain FM on Monday night when Jeff Sargeant and I do a special NHL preview show.

Incidentally, I talked to the guys after the game and Chad Gehon did score the winner. They credited Pickering with the goal but it should be Gehon's. Pickering did get the tip on Clark's show and scored the second goal. I wonder if that would've changed the three stars.

CJ Legassic left the game in the first period and went to hospital for x-rays. He's fine. It's just a bruise. He's sore but CJ is a warrior and I know he'll be ready to go.

Jason Greenwell gets his first start with the Smoke Eaters tomorrow afternoon. The 19 year old AP took Fernie to the KIJHL championship last year. That's a great league and Greenwell is a talented guy. He also doesn't have bad flashbacks to the last time the Smokies were in Quesnel and got shelled. The Millionaires have been struggling lately, but they have owned Trail over the last year or so. The Smokies will surely be looking for a better outing and maybe some pay back. It's never easy to get two points in the Vault, especially if Malcom is in goal.

Game time is 2pm and the pre-game show starts at 1:45pm on Mountain FM. Join us for another broadcast of AM Ford Trail Smoke Eaters Hockey at 104.1FM in Trail.