Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bennett to Trail, Jays Earn Top Seed


(Wade Bennett with the LA Jr Kings)

The Trail Smoke Eaters have added another piece to their back end as we move towards what should be another excellent competition for blue line spots at training camp. Los Angeles native Wade Bennett has agreed to join the Smokies for next season. Wade is the older brother of Beau Bennett of the Penticton Vees. Ryan Pinder had the scoop on that signing a little while back. The Bennett brothers were both recruited by the USHL and instead decided the BCHL was the right path for them. It doesn't always go in the other direction!

I met Wade and his father at the Smokies alumni banquet. I got a terrific first impression from them and suspect this is a hockey family that does things the right way. Wade seems really excited to be coming to a hockey hot bed like Trail so he can take his game to the next level. After recently switching from forward to defence he had 5 goald and 11 assists in 77 AAA Midget games for the LA Junior Kings. The 1990 born D is listed as 5'9 and 168lbs but has likely put on some weight since then. Here are my interviews with Wade and with Jim Ingram on the subject...

Wade Bennett

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Jim Ingram on Bennett

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As you can tell from the interview Jim was really impressed by Wade's ability with the puck. I know he saw him in a tournament in early 08 and I believe Wade went to Vernon's training camp this past season. Here's hoping Wade can come in and help replace what Trail has lost on the blue line. As I've said before there are a number of interesting players coming to camp that we haven't announced on the blog yet. We know so far that Steve Kosehey, Graeme Strukoff, Brett Naka and Wade Bennett will be a part of the picture. That's two puck movers and two freight trains. There are several more that I know of who should make things really interesting come late August.

I think we could have another situation where there are up to 10 guys who could play in the league that the team will have to pick from. Of course a lot of fans still believe the team needs to make a move for at least another veteran on the back end. There's still lots of time before training camp, and often those kinds of moves don't get made until early in the season. The team is coming together well and I only heard positive comments about what Jim is doing when I was talking with some people at the BC Hockey Hall of Fame Summer Classic this past weekend.

Speaking of the Summer Classic that was a heck of a good time. Thanks to Ryan Pinder and all the people in Penticton for allowing me to take part. It was a unique broadcast where we had the chance to do some live interviews on the bench during the game. Nothing quite like having Pat Quinn staring down at you from the bench and telling you the other team's goal was your fault because you distracted him... obvious joke or not I can see how that man can get your attention!

Dany Heatley also made an appearance and showed off his ridiculous release. I think that was his first public event and first public comments this summer. Of course all he talked about was the game and the charity. As tempting as it was to ask him about the trade request stuff on our broadcast we knew he was there for a charity (Penticton Minor Hockey) and that had to be respected. As much as anyone can say about him he could have easily stayed home (he was a last minute addition), but instead gave his time to raise money for a good cause. I still think he should make some kind of a statement soon.

There were some big names there and they all did it to raise money and put attention on minor hockey. I was glad to be a part of that.

JAYS ADVANCE TO STATE

In American Legion Baseball, the Trail Jays advanced to the Idaho State Tournament. It was kind of a complicated story to be honest. The Jays beat Cranbrook and Lewis-Clark to start the double elimination North Idaho District Playoffs. The wins put Trail into the finals of the tournament and when Lewis-Clark made it through the loser bracket to get to finals as well it guaranteed Trail the top seed from their region. Lewis-Clark is hosting the State Tournament so they had a special "host" seed and as such it didn't matter who won the district. Since it didn't technically matter both sides agreed to just play one game for the championship. Trail lost that game 12-11 but didn't use their top pitchers when they had a lead late in the game. Normally they would've been due a second game because it was double elimination and they hadn't lost. It seems strange to me that winning your district isn't really significant. However, the State Tournament starts tomorrow and so the Jays wanted to make sure their top arms were rested.

For you BCHL and Vernon fans who have been following the blog for updates... Kellen Jones got the win in Saturday's game over Lewis-Clark and Connor Jones picked up the save. Jays Manager Nick Schuerman says he'll be counting on the twins for big innings if they have any shot of winning State. We'll keep you up to date on what has been Trail's best showing at this level in years. To think only 6 years ago the team was actually on a one year hiatus.

EDIT: Just wanted to add a list of the Jays awards winners for this season from their banquet last night.
  • MVP: Connor and Kellen Jones
  • Top Pitcher: Connor and Kellen Jones
  • Top Hitter: Connor and Kellen Jones
  • Defensive Award: Matt Larmour
  • Most Improved: Jeff Sidey
  • Coach's Award: Ethan Green

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