Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bulach to Geneseo, Lenardon on Turik



Smoke Eaters Captain Ryan Bulach is headed off to SUNY Geneseo in the NCAA. Bulach will have another Smokies alumni with him in New York as Stef Decosse played there this season. They're two of the classiest guys I've met in hockey so that should be awesome for the school. Bulach's attitude, work ethic and determination will be a huge boost for any team. He also proved he can be a player at both ends of the ice this season as he was Trail's leading scorer and MVP. Bulach will be taking education and one day I imagine will be a terrific teacher. Congratulations Ryan, you deserve every opportunity in the world.

Ryan Bulach on Mountain FM's Overtime

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Quickly I also wanted to add the interview I did with Smokies legend Norm Lenardon on the passing of Frank Turik. Norm was great as always.

Norm Lenardon on Mountain FM's Overtime

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Leafs Audio


(Photo by J.R. Ross)

I had the chance to travel with the Nelson Leafs in their KIJHL championship series. Here's some audio from the victory. Trail fans will be familiar with former Smoke Eaters Miles Houston, Brock Monroe and Scott Jago. Seveal Leafs were APs with Trail this year including Michael Spring, Tommy Rizzardo, Jacob Perich and Dylan Walchuk. The Leafs are now off to the Cyclone Taylor Cup to compete for the provincial crown. Good luck to them! The Neil Murdoch Division continues to produce some terrific hockey year after year here in the West Kootenay Boundary.

Game 4: Nelson 6 Kamloops 5 on Mountain FM

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Game 3: Nelson 6 Kamloops 2 on Mountain FM

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Post Game 4 Interviews with the Leafs

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Nelson Coach and GM Simon Wheeldon

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Parade and Tail Gate Party Audio

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Defenseman Taylor O'Neil

Click here to download


Forward Gavin Currie

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Defenseman David Picard

Click here to download


Forward Cody Carver

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Defenseman Adam Makaroff

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Smoke Eaters Legend Dies



"Frank Turik passed away this week at 83. He was a top scorer with the
senior Smoke Eaters in the 1950s and led the junior Smokies to the
1944 Memorial Cup final. A service will be held Thursday at Rosewood
Village. Everyone's encouraged to wear orange and black or a hockey jersey."
My sympathies to his friends and family.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Leafs Win KIJHL Championship


(Photo by J.R. Ross)

The Nelson Leafs won the KIJHL Championship last night. They swept Kamloops and lost only a single game in the entire playoffs. Congratulations to former Smoke Eaters Miles Houston, Brock Monroe and Scott Jago for being part of the victorious club. It's a classy organization that deserves all their success. I had a blast calling games 3 and 4 on Mountain FM, and they made me feel very welcome. I could talk hockey with all the guys there for hours on end. Several of the Leafs were APs with the Smokies this year and perhaps we'll see some of them in the orange and black next season. Again my congrats to Simon Wheeldon and company for a terrific achievement. Next up for the Leafs is the Cyclone Taylor against Richmond, Abbotsford and Jadon Porterfield's old Oceanside squad. I wonder if Porterfield and former Leaf Riley Loyst will be chirping each other a little bit while this goes on.

Good luck, Leafs! They'll be holding a parade on Saturday starting at 2:45pm at the Nelson Community Complex.

Here's some more photos sent to me by JR Ross. Thanks JR!


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Watch Rollheiser's BU Squad Win Hockey East

...on Sportsnet right now BU's game against UML is on live.

For those of you in the West Kootenay, lets fill up that Nelson Community Complex tonight for game 1 of the KIJHL finals!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Nelson Winners, Quick Conference Finals Prediction

Congrats to the Nelson Leafs for making the KIJHL finals. We'll be back on the air to broadcast the road games for Nelson in championship series. Wednesday, Thursday and possibly Sunday next week in either Kamloops or Sicamous. The home games are this Sunday, Monday, Saturday and possibly the following Tuesday. Lets fill the rink up and cheer on the West Kootenay's last junior team left standing this spring.

Also congrats to the Kaslo/Nelson Bantam Rep Tier 3 team for winning the provincial championship! That's a wonderful accomplishment for Coach Jeff Hunt and his 16 players. They even had a parade down Baker street tonight. I'll have some audio from them, local WHL players, the KIJHL Leafs, other local teams at provincials and more coming up sometime this weekend.

CONFERENCE FINALS

So far I'm 6/7 in my BCHL playoff predictions so I figured I shouldn't give up on them. I don't have time to do full previews like I did in the first two rounds, but I think you can forgive me given that I have a full time job and the Smokies have been out for a couple of weeks now! Why does the off season have to be so long? Lets have a summer league too...

Vernon vs. Salmon Arm: The season series was really tight. They both have terrific depth on the blue line. I think the Silverbacks could have had the edge there before Vernon made the huge additions of Brodie and Leidl at the deadline. As it stands it's pretty close. Up front the Silverbacks have the more explosive top units, but Vernon can kill you from the first through to the fourth line. Goaltending should be close too. Both coaches are experienced and talented. Forward depth to me is the main difference in the series. Vipers in 6.

Victoria vs. Powell River: I actually predicted a Capitals upset and it was looking that way for a while at the end, but Victoria played a near perfect game to close the series out. The Kings are obviously very talented and have a high powered offence, but the season series was almost all Grizz. I don't know exactly what it was about the match up that seemed to favour Victoria, but you can't argue against what happened. I'm going Victoria in 5. That being said, the playoffs can be a whole different story and I'd love to see the community owned Kings make the finals. It'd be great for smaller market teams across the league to see them go for the Fred Page Cup.

Looks like I'm expecting a Vernon vs. Victoria final. Not exactly going out on a limb, is it?

What do you think?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Spring Camp, Wheeldon


Scroll down for the Smokies season in blog posts I put together today...

I talked to Smoke Eaters Coach and General Manager Jim Ingram about their spring camp on Mountain FM's Overtime tonight. The Smokies signed five players out of their spring camp last year and kept four of them for the whole season. Ingram says they take the camp very seriously as a tool for not only filling next season's roster, but also for starting relationships with players who could develop with the local KIJHL teams before making a jump to the BCHL.

Smokies Coach and GM Jim Ingram

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If you want more details on the Trail Smoke Eaters spring camp in Princeton check out the official website.

KIJHL PLAYOFFS

As I told you earlier this week, Nelson advanced to the KIJHL semi-finals with a series win over Castlegar. The Leafs now face the two time defending champion Fernie Ghostriders. Fernie beat Nelson in the finals in 06-07 and knocked Beaver valley off in the semis last season. They are a veteran team who knows how to win come playoff time while Nelson is a speedy, skilled young team that tore up the league in the regular season. Game 1 is Saturday at 7pm in Nelson with the second game on Sunday afternoon at 4pm. Here's Simon Wheeldon on how the teams match up...

Nelson Coach and GM Simon Wheeldon


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Hope to see you at the game tomorrow night! Also check out the peewee provincials in Rossland and Trail this week and the midget girls provincials in Nelson.

A Season in Posts


(Smokies celebrate their first win of the year - Photo Randy Emery)

I've decided to go through this past season and pick out some posts that I think can summarize the ups and downs of a dramatic BCHL season for the Smokies. Just a note that not all the audio still works as some of it has been purged from the Mountain FM website.

March 6: Herold to Merritt
April 16: Smokies Add Three KIJHL D
April 17: More New Smokies
April 18: Captain Bulach
April 22: Boisvert to Trail, Aiken to Anchorage
April 23: Dustin's Camp Story
May 20: Smokies Trade Corcoran for 2 Caps
June 20: Smokies Trade Brodie for Gehon
June 20: More Trade Details
June 21: Grant Rollheiser Drafted
July 15: Johns Retires
July 15: Alumni Weekend
August 21: Training Camp (audio doesn't work)
August 25: Black vs. White Game
August 26: Exhibition Game 1
August 27: Exhibition Game 2
August 29: Exhibition Game 3
August 30: Exhibition Game 4
September 2: Kang Returns
September 4: Final Roster (Alaskan Boys Traded)
September 6: Game 1 Preview
September 8: Game 1 Result: Trail 5 Penticton 4 (OT)
September 19: New Players
September 19: Gameday: Saturday Notes
September 23: Weekend Review
October 1: Prince George Notes
October 3: Updates from Former Smokies
October 3: Trail 3 at Salmon Arm 5 (Injury Notes)
October 7: More Alumni Updates
October 9: Mountain FM Night Photos
October 10: First Place!
October 17: 15th in Canada
October 23: 11th in Canada
October 25: Victory!
October 29: Guess Whose Back?
November 2: Smokies Trade Smutek, Add Gummer
November 6: Trail 3 Alberni Valley 2
November 10: Scary Scene Cancels Game
November 17: Weekend Audio and Loyst
November 17: Smokies Top Pinder's Power Rankings
November 18: Penticton at Trail Video
November 20: Trail 7 Merritt 2 Video
November 24: Trail 6 Westside 4 Video
December 2: Weekend Audio
December 3: Interior All-Stars
December 3: Ingram Extended
December 5: Trail 6 Prince George 2 Video
December 7: Trail 6 Quesnel 2 Video
December 9: Ton of Audio
December 9: Trail 3 Penticton 2 (OT)
December 17: Smokies Weekend Audio
December 19: St. Denis to Quinnipiac
December 23: Trail 3 Quesnel 1 Video, Trail 4 Quesnel 1 Video
January 6: Road Trip Three Stars
January 9: Dutch Smokies Fan
January 10: Buy or Sell?
January 10: Smokies Make Their Moves
January 12: Brett Corcoran Interview
January 13: Who is Scott Jacklin?
January 19: Trail 4 Salmon Arm 2 Video
January 27: Coast Trip Audio
February 4: Third Jersey Poll
February 4: Raimondo and Legassic's Seasons Over
February 12: 100 Years Ago Today...
February 24: Final Weekend Audio
February 25: Awards Night Audio
February 27: Playoff Preview
March 2: Weekend Playoff Audio
March 4: Post Playoff Audio
March 4: 08-09 Highlight Video
March 6: Trail Times Letter, Guy Bertrand

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Boisvert to McGill


(Boisvert in his final Smoke Eaters game - Photo Randy Emery)

Add J.F. Boisvert's name to the list of departing Smokies as the 1989 born sniper and Interior Conference All-Star has decided to attend McGill University next season. Boisvert had some NCAA Division I interest, but unless a player gets the "full ride" scholarship that can be exceptionally costly. Instead J.F. is going to a very good school right in his backyard. McGill has a strong hockey program and are second in their division.

The departure of Boisvert of course makes it more and more important for Trail to track down additional scoring in the off season. That being said, there's a limit to how many 20 year olds Trail can bring back. There are other 89 born players like Nick Sandor, Sean Nugent, Patrick Raley, Riley Loyst, Adam Gummer and Paul Barclay who could return. This decision opens the door to have all of them come back barring a trade.

Congratulations to Boisvert who had a very good season with Trail and earned himself a spot on a top notch Canadian University team. We'll miss having him here next season and I know I'll miss being able to call out "Et Le But!"

Don't forget for anyone interested in getting a foot in the door with the Smokies, they're holding a spring camp in Princeton this April. For details check out http://www.trailsmokeeaters.ca/ and I'll be talking to Coach Jim Ingram about the camp tomorrow night on Overtime.

Also check out the comments on the Trail Times post to see a very well thought out note from former Smoke Eater (and Nitehawk) Stef Decosse. He has an excellent view of things because of his time in both the KIJHL and BCHL. Thanks Stef! I keep saying I think he's gonna be stealing my job someday.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Leafs Win, Pinder Preview



The road to a repeat of the Fred Page Cup is getting rockie for the defending champs from Penticton. The Vees and Vernon Vipers head into a huge game four tonight at the South Okanagan Events Center. The Vees won the first game, but Vernon have grabbed the last two and the big "mo" in the series. A must win game for Penticton tonight? Close to it. Here's Ryan...

Vees Broadcaster Ryan Pinder on Game 4

Click here to download


We also chatted about the attendance in the series so far which has been somewhat underwhelming given the usual numbers in those cities. Why do you think the numbers have been down? Economy, marketing, short notice of the dates, expectations of a conference or league final?


Speaking of teams with high expectations, the top ranked Nelson Leafs finished off the Castlegar Rebels in the second round of the KIJHL playoffs last night. The Leafs are powered by former Smokies Brock Monroe, Scott Jago and Miles Houston... as well as Smokies APs Tommy Rizardo, Peter Alexander, Dylan Walchuk, Michael Spring and Jacob Perich. There are more than a few connections there, eh? Congrats to Simon Wheeldon's Leafs on another step towards what could be a run at the KIJHL Championship at a Cyclone Taylor Cup maybe? Wheeldon won his third consecutive Coach of the Year award and sure seems to be establishing an elite program. If he wasn't such a big part of that community I'm sure a BCHL team would've scooped him up by now.

Castlegar and Beaver Valley both had strong teams this year that could have emerged from other divisions in the league, but Nelson just had more depth. Congrats to all teams in the Neil Murdoch for another very competitive season. The one thing that has kept me going after the Smokies exit was the exciting playoff hockey we saw in our region. The Leafs did sweep the second round, but 3/4 of the games were decided by a single goal.

Here's Brock...

Former Smoke Eater and Nelson Leafs Captain Brock Monroe

Click here to download
Finally just a quick note that the Smokies executive also responded to the "move to the KIJHL" letter in the Trail Times. Rick Basso's letter is a must read, but I think most Smoke Eaters fans always knew what we've been saying about Trail's place being in the BCHL. The future is still bright in my eyes.

Monday, March 9, 2009

March 9th Smokies Alumni Update


(Jason Bay and Shawn Horcoff on CBC)

Before we get to the stats, here's former Smoke Eater Shawn Horcoff and Trail's Jason Bay paired up in an interview on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada. Both men continue to make the West Kootenay proud in their respective sports. Thanks for Guy Bertrand for the heads up that this interview was going down on the weekend. If only the World Baseball Classic was going better for Canada. Looks like they might be done early.



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 shawnsamsmullin@hotmail.com

(Grant Rollheiser with BU)

After a couple of shaky starts in the fall freshman Grant Rollheiser seemed to lose the battle for the Boston University starter's job. However, he recently starred in a relief performance and has taken advantage of some opportunities to show what he can do. It's another late season run from Rollheiser who became a star in both the KIJHL (for Nelson) and BCHL (for Trail) with his spectacular play in the second half of the saeson. It looks like he's doing it again. The Maple Leafs draft pick shut out Providence to help secure BU's regular season title. It was his first NCAA shut out. As always for more information on Rollie and BU check out The Terrier Hockey Fan Blog. As you can hear on the blog, BU Coach Jack Parker was very proud of "Roloson" for getting the victory. Oops. They do have the same nickname and jersey number so you can forgive Parker for the slip.

The BCHL careers of former Smokies Brad Davis, Nathan Westover and Brian Kang have now come to an end after their teams were eliminated from further competition. Congrats to all three for long and impressive junior careers. Hopefully the dream doesn't end here. Chad Gehon could also be playing his last junior games with Westside down 2-0 to Salmon Arm after the first weekend of their series. The Warriors have had to play without Justin Schultz and any team is going to hurt when their best player is injured.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Trail Times Letter, Guy Bertrand



I had a letter on the Smoke Eaters printed in the Trail Daily Times today. Before we get to that, I had a chance to talk to their BCHL award winning sports editor Guy Bertrand on Mountain FM's Overtime this week. We broke down this season for the Smokies and what to expect for next year. Here's Guy:

Trail Daily Times Sports Editor Guy Bertrand

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As for the letter, it was in response to a letter calling for the Smokies to drop back down to the Junior B KIJHL. I don't want to seem like I'm denigrating that hockey as I think it's an excellent league with great local teams. However, this was my response (the paragraphs are theirs not mine):

After reading the letter from Ben Postmus on moving the Smokies back to the KIJHL I felt the need to respond. I know Ben has had a history of volunteering his time to hockey at different levels so I certainly appreciate his dedication and take on the issue, but I think he's way off the mark.

Ben asked if the Smoke Eaters' time in the BCHL has been a success. I suppose that would depend on your definition of success, but the Trail franchise has one of the most consistent and loyal fan bases in the league.

Over the past six seasons they've never averaged less than 881 fans a game or more than 988. Their average attendance over that span amounts to 13% of the City of Trail's population.

If you ranked teams in the Interior Conference by that mark, Salmon Arm comes in second spot by drawing in only 7.6% of their population. Other small market teams like Quesnel and Merritt draw only 6.7% and 6.4% of possible fans. Those same fans buy merchandise, food and tickets to all the fundraising events every year.

The people here support their BCHL hockey at a higher rate than anywhere else in the Interior. The team also probably has the hardest working staff of volunteers in the league and great corporate support.

How about success on the ice? While it's true that the Smokies have yet to win a championship or reach the league finals, they have hardly been a punching bag. Recently they've finished no lower than sixth and no higher than third in their division. Their overall franchise record is right around .500, they've been in the playoffs eight straight times and they've produced a number of young athletes who have gone on to success in college and pro hockey. Just this season a former Smoke Eater (Brett Skinner) made his debut in the NHL while another (Grant Rollheiser) was drafted by Toronto.

This year's team may have had a long losing skid to close out the season, but no one who regularly attended this season's games could argue they didn't put on an entertaining product. Who could forget the thumping of top ranked Victoria? How about four dramatic overtime wins against Penticton?

This team only returned five players from last season, and while completely rebuilding with 12 rookies they still flirted with first place and were ranked nationally in the fall. There is also lots of reason for optimism with the return of up to 15 players for 2009-10.

Ben mentioning the revolving door behind Trail's bench is unfair given the recent trend. Tim Kehler spent three successful seasons with the Smokies before climbing the ladder to the WHL. Jim Ingram has just completed his second season and signed a three year contract extension that should provide for coaching stability with longtime assistants Barry Zanier (six years) and Brian Youngson (three years). Things have changed.

He also asked what has being part of the BCHL done for Trail. I couldn't properly answer that question in just one newspaper.

First of all, the BCHL franchise provides Trail with the best on ice product in the West Kootenay. KIJHL hockey is very entertaining, but all you have to do is talk to a player who has made the leap to find out how much more speed, skill and physicality you'll see in Junior A. It's simply a higher level of hockey and that's why KIJHL teams take pride in moving players to the BCHL.

Junior A hockey in the region also gives us an opportunity to watch future NHL stars like Kyle Turris as they develop into elite talents.

It gives us a home for local players who are skilled enough to play at this level and earn college scholarships. If we didn't have the Smokies great local talents like Paul Mailey, Travis St. Denis, Justin Brown, Steve Koshey, Patrik Martin and Kevin Limbert (to name just a few) would have had to play their BCHL hockey elsewhere. Would we rather they were playing on the coast or in the Okanagan?

Ben speaks about more opportunities for local kids to play with an additional KIJHL team, but Beaver Valley and Castlegar seem to do the job just fine. If there was such a need for additional KIJHL spots for locals why do the Nitehawks and Rebels have to fill out their rosters with players from other parts of the country?

Any additional team would just dilute the regional Junior B talent pool and make our teams less competitive.

If anything the loss of a BCHL team would probably have a negative influence on minor hockey as they wouldn't have a Tier II team to strive for.

It would also hurt the ability of local KIJHL teams to recruit the high end talent that wants to be close to and on the radar of a BCHL team in Trail.

Local rivalries are great and there's nothing stopping any fans from enjoying games just down the road in Fruitvale, Castlegar, Grand Forks and Nelson. The Smokies also have some very intense rivalries with the likes of Vernon and Penticton.

A couple of early playoff exits in a row and it's time to quit? That doesn't make any sense to me. Why can't we just enjoy having two thriving levels of junior hockey in our region? Ideally we'd be able to follow all the terrific local talent as they move up the ranks from minor hockey to the KIJHL and eventually the BCHL Smokies. If you want to do just that pick up your season tickets for 2009-10 when I'm expecting a whole lot more magic out of St. Denis, Mailey, Brown, Koshey and the rest of the gang.

Shawn Mullin
Castlegar

Second Round Predictions



I don't really have time to do the audio previews I did for the last round. My apologies, but there's lots of "real life" work to catch up on at the radio station now that my hockey life away from work is over for another year. However, I did go 3 for 3 in my first round predictions so I didn't want to risk missing out on a 100% record throughout the playoffs!

INTERIOR CONFERENCE


The first place Vernon Vipers come off their first round bye to take on the defending champion Penticton Vees. Last year the roles were reversed with fourth place Vernon taking Penticton to seven games before the Vees advanced and went on to win the Fred Page Cup. Now Vernon is the deep, veteran team while Penticton has a bunch of first year skill players finding their playoff feet. With the roles reversed this season will we see the opposite result? For more on this series check out both the vipersdiehardfan blog and Pinder's Vees Blog.

Now let's check out the season series:

Oct 5: Penticton 2 at Vernon 6
Nov 22: Vernon 4 at Penticton 3 (OT)
Nov 29: Vernon 3 at Penticton 1
Dec 5: Penticton 4 at Vernon 5
Jan 10: Vernon 1 at Penticton 5
Jan 24: Penticton 2 at Vernon 4
Feb 17: Penticton 1 at Vernon 2 (OT)
Feb 21: Vernon 3 at Penticton 5

PREDICTION: Vernon only lost twice against Penticton, but two of their six wins were in extra time. The other note is that Penticton has one of the best home records in the league and have won their past two games against Vernon at the South Okanagan Events Centre. If the Vees get a split the Vipers could be in trouble. That being said, Penticton is less experienced, not as deep, not as tough, missing their MVP (Manderson) and coming off a five game war with Prince George. I think the very skilled Vees put up a fight, but this series goes to Vernon in 6. I don't know if anyone can beat Vernon.



The second place Salmon Arm Silverbacks take on the third place Westside Warriors. Salmon Arm had a bye while the Warriors swept Trail. However, Westside had to go to Overtime twice against the Smokies and seem to be dealing with some injury troubles. Sniper Jordan Gagne missed two of the games while the Interior's best defenseman Justin Schultz went down in game 3 and didn't return. Will they be ready? The Warriors were hot down the stretch while Salmon Arm kind of sputtered.

Now let's check out the season series:

Sept 24: Westside 7 at Salmon Arm 2
Nov 11: Westside 3 at Salmon Arm 6
Jan 3: Salmon Arm 3 at Westside 2
Jan 4: Westside 3 at Salmon Arm 6
Jan 9: Salmon Arm 2 at Westside 5
Jan 24: Salmon Arm 2 at Westside 3
Feb 11: Westside 3 at Salmon Arm 4
Feb 21: Salmon Arm 2 at Westside 4

PREDICTION: This series is without question the toughest call. The season series is straight up tied at 4 games each. The Warriors were on a roll at the end of the year while Salmon Arm was inconsistent, but it looks like Westside is a little more banged up. Salmon Arm has more high end skill while Westside has more depth. The Warriors have three killer offensive lines right now while Salmon Arm gets most of their scoring from the first and second lines. The first especially is just deadly. Both teams have very good playoff experienced goaltending. Both teams have very good playoff experienced coaches. Both have tough and smart veteran defensive cores. Flip a coin? My gut tells me Westside is a better playoff team and this pick could be a mistake (never question your gut!), but if Gagne and Schultz aren't 100% I'm going with home ice advantage. Salmon Arm in 7.

MAINLAND DIVISION


The first place Powell River Kings take on the third place Surreay Eagles in what should be an interesting mainland series. The Kings are an offensive force, but Surrey is riding great momentum after the first round. The Eagles also have the most unique ice surface in the league so that provides a hightened home ice advantage for games 3, 4 and 6. These two teams are obviously very familiar with one another after playing 247 times this season.

Now let's check out the season series:

Sept 12: Powell River 3 at Surrey 5
Oct 10: Surrey 2 at Powell River 5
Oct 11: Surrey 3 at Powell River 4
Oct 18: Powell River 3 at Surrey 2
Nov 1: Powell River 5 at Surrey 8
Nov 7: Powell River 3 at Surrey 2
Nov 28: Surrey 2 at Powell River 5
Nov 29: Surrey 4 at Powell River 3 (OT)
Dec 29: Powell River 3 at Surrey 4 (OT)
Jan 25: Powell River 4 at Surrey 1
Feb 20: Surrey 1 at Powell River 6
Feb 21: Surrey 3 at Powell River 7

PREDICTON: Surrey only beat Powell River four times in twelve games this season. Two of those wins took overtime. That means the Kings picked up 18 of a possible 24 points for them in the series. That's fairly one sided. Surrey does have a win on the road in the series, but their last two games against the Kings were both blowouts and don't bode well for getting a split this weekend. If they can't I have a hard time seeing them advancing. Tartaglione is a money goaltender and a potential game stealer, but the Kings pounded the tar out of him the last two times they faced off. The Eagles are very good on their olympic sized home ice, but the Kings did win three out of six games there this season. Surrey doesn't seem to have close to the scoring depth that Powell River does either. I was big on the Eagles in the first round, but everything points to Powell River in 5 here.

ISLAND DIVISION


The first place Victoria Grizzlies take on their hated rivals, the second place Cowichan Valley Capitals. The Grizz have a spot ready for them at the RBC in Victoria this spring and there's nothing the team from Duncan would like better than to get a ticket to that party as well. Those teams on the island all seem to have a healthy hate for one another and this should be a really good, high energy series. The last time a BCHL team hosted the RBC (Prince George) they went out early in the playoffs and had a long break before the tournament. Victoria desperately wants to avoid a similar situation.

Now let's check out the season series:

Sept 23: Cowichan 2 at Victoria 4
Oct 3: Cowichan 3 at Victoria 8
Nov 4: Cowichan 3 at Victoria 6
Nov 7: Victoria 2 at Cowichan 3 (OT)
Nov 8: Cowichan 2 at Victoria 5
Dec 27: Cowichan 4 at Victoria 3
Jan 10: Victoria 2 at Cowichan 3
Jan 16: Victoria 2 at Cowichan 3
Jan 23: Victoria 2 at Cowichan 4
Jan 30: Victoria 4 at Cowichan 1
Feb 14: Cowichan 4 at Victoria 5 (OT)
Feb 21: Victoria 5 at Cowichan 4

PREDICTON: Victoria dominated the season series in the early going, but at one point Cowichan won four straight games against the Grizzlies. Since that time Victoria has three consecutive wins against the Caps. Victoria holds the edge here, but it was a very tight series. I think that is about where we are heading into the playoffs. Victoria has a slight skill edge heading into this series. They also have home ice advantage. Were is Cowichan's edge? The Caps have momentum after knocking off Nanaimo in three games. They also have the goaltending edge with the Coastal MVP Chris Rawlings in goal. I think the Caps have an edge in toughness too. The additions of Pajimola and Perdicaro were big moves in terms of getting playoff ready guys with an edge into their line-up. However, Cowcihan only won once in Victoria this season. I think they'll have to win there at least twice to take the playoff series. This is another very tough series to call. I think perhaps given Victoria's guaranteed RBC spot the Caps may just want this one a little bit more. I also want to call at least one upset here. Capitals in 7.

As usual take all my predictions with a grain of salt. Especially those for the teams from the coast. I only saw them each once this season. I am 100% so far these playoffs though. Lets see if that trend keeps up. Only a few minutes away from puck drop now. Wish the Smokies were still in it. Oh well, next year!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

New Bulldogs Head Coach

According to the Nanaimo Daily News (and before that a post on the BCHL message board), Nanaimo Clippers Assistant Coach Nolan Graham is set to become the next Head Coach and GM of the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. This would be (from my understanding) Graham's first head coaching job in the league. However, he has been an assistant on a team that went to the BCHL finals last year and won a championship the season before. Graham scored 149 points in 2 BCHL seasons with Chilliwack before heading off to R.P.I. in the NCAA. He then played 3 seasons of pro hockey in the ECHL and CHL before joining the Clippers coaching staff.

It's not the experienced head coach with a winning track record that I'm sure some Bulldogs fans wanted. On the other hand, he's learned from one of the best and experienced what it takes to get to a championship in this league. Every great coach has a first job. This could be it for Graham.

The Bulldogs have a press conference tomorrow to make it official. I'm sure there will be more coverage on Hammer's blog when that happens. I certainly hope this is a step in the right direction for those great fans in Port Alberni.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Pinder Previews Game 5

The game is just underway but here's a chat I had with Penticton broadcaster Ryan Pinder on the fifth and deciding game of the Vees/Spruce Kings series.

Vees Broadcaster Ryan Pinder on Game 5

Click here to download


Good luck to both teams. It's only been a few days and I'm missing the hockey badly.

UPDATE: The Vees take it in dramatic fashion. Congrats to Penticton on a hard fought win. Also congrats to former Smoke Eater Andrew Pickering and the Spruce Kings for nearly pulling off the upset. Playoff hockey at its best. Now the second round is set with Penticton vs. Vernon, Westside vs. Salmon Arm, Surrey vs. Powell River and Cowichan vs. Victoria. I do also want to note that I went 3/3 in my predictions!

08-09 Highlight Video (LINK UPDATED)



If you want your own copy of the Smokies highlights video (without the youtube censorship of my music and audio) check it out here: https://rcpt.yousendit.com/745714563/f1312dc38c141f6964a347927d5585f4

Post Playoff Audio


(The Warriors and Smokies battle - Photo Randy Emery)

Just wanted to say a quick congrats to Andrew Pickering for a hell of a playoffs so far. That line of Ambrosie/Pickering/Muchalla has willed the Spruce Kings back into their series with Penticton. It's the only first round series going to a fifth game. Should be a war in Penticton with Vernon licking their chops to play the battered winner. I wish we were seeing a game 5 tomorrow... man it was close!

More to come on the end of the season for the Smokies. I want to spend some time breaking down what went right and wrong this season. I want to talk about the 20 year olds whose junior careers are now over. I want to spend some time thanking everyone who made this season possible. However, it's 2am and I have to get to bed. For now here's some audio to tide you over. Of note, I couldn't get access to the first or second period of Monday's game. That's why the highlights are limited to the third and overtime.

Game 3 Third Period and Overtime Highlights

Click here to download


Trail Smoke Eaters Coach Jim Ingram

Click here to download

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Thanks You Smokies



Thanks to the fans, coaches, volunteers, executive and players for a fantastic season. You are all class acts. I only wish it ended much later. A fantastic effort that just fell a little short. Thanks for all the hard work and entertainment. I had a blast. With 17 players eligible to return (though really only 15 thanks to limits on the number of 20 year old players) I can only hope to see most of these guys back next year for a run at the Fred Page Cup.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Game 3 Game Day



DO OR DIE

Here's how the season series breaks down...

Sept 13: Westside 4 at Trail 2
Oct 25: Trail 3 at Westside 5
Nov 22: Westside 4 at Trail 6
Nov 23: Westside 3 at Trail 2
Dec 14: Trail 4 at Westside 5
Feb 5: Trail 3 at Westside 4
Feb 14: Westside 4 at Trail 2
Feb 17: Trail 1 at Westside 4
Feb 27: Trail 1 at Westside 5 (Game 1)
Feb 28: Trail 2 at Westisde 3 (Game 2) OT

TOP SCORERS

TRAIL

Ryan Bulach (2-8-10)
Danny DeKeyser (4-4-8)
Brandon Clark (2-4-6)
JF Boisvert (3-2-5)
Paul Mailey (2-3-5)
Travis St. Denis (3-1-4)
Nick Sandor (2-2-4)
Brett Corcoran (1-3-4)
Patirck Raley (0-4-4)
Sean Nugent (1-2-3)
Justin Brown (2-0-2)
Patrik Martin (0-2-2)
Adam Gummer (0-2-2)
Riley Loyst (1-0-1)
Scott Jacklin (0-1-1)
Jadon Porterfield (0-1-1)
Graeme Strukoff (0-1-1)
Jayson Reardon (0-1-1)

WESTSIDE

Ron Kelly (4-9-13)
Rob Bailey (7-5-12)
Corey Pritz (4-6-10)
Chad Gehon (2-7-9)
Jordan Gange (6-2-8)
Justin Schultz (3-4-7)
Vince Mihalek (3-4-7)
Kyle Singleton (3-4-7)
Garrett Watson (2-5-7)
Alex Grieve (3-3-6)
Cam Reid (3-2-5)
Brad Plumton (1-4-5)
Joel Woznikozki (0-4-4)
Brendan Ellis (0-3-3)
Craig Eisenhut (0-3-3)
Grayson Downing (1-1-2)
Tyler Krause (1-0-1)
Michael Quinn (0-1-1)
Jordan Gidaro (0-1-1)

GOALTENDERS

Paul Barclay (TRA) 0-6, 3.82GAA, 0.888% (Playoffs: 0-2, 3.86GAA, 0.890%)
Marco Raimondo (TRA) 1-2, 3.82GAA, 0.882%
Kevin Jebson (WES) 4-1, 2.70GAA, 0.907% (Playoffs: 2-0, 1.45GAA, 0.952%)
Devon Murtagh (WES) 2-0, 2.50GAA, 0.898%

LINE UP

TRAIL

Affiliate Players: Sam Olson from the Grand Forks Border Bruins, Alex Ross from Kootenay Major Midget

WESTSIDE

BROADCAST

No home radio broadcast but the game is available on BCHL PPV with my call and in the BCHL Fanzone with both home and road feeds.