Wednesday, October 29, 2008

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?

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