Friday, September 18, 2009

Game Day Audio, Chaput

Home openers are always magical games. No matter the result there's that feeling in the air that hockey season is finally here. You'll see some familiar faces that you may not have seen all summer. You'll feel that brisk shot of cold air when you walk through the doors into the Cominco Arena. The line starts to form around the Sud Shack... the fries are in mid-season form over at the Spud Shack... Tiger's legendary voice fills the air reminded everyone that season ticket holders have reserved seating... and of course the most educated fans in the BCHL gather around the railings to talk strategy. "How is the roster looking?" "Are we big enough this year?" "We need to put a big body in front of the net on the PP." "Nice to see all those local boys in the line-up." "Who is this Chaput kid?" This is a fan base that knows their stuff. They may not be the loudest crowd in hockey (unless there's a bad call...) but they sure are a dedicated and smart bunch. I'm looking forward to the first of many good talks.

Who better to open the home schedule against than the defending national champion Vernon Vipers? Two seasons ago they opened against Vernon and lost a very dramatic overtime game. Vernon also knocked Trail out of the playoffs two years in a row in 2007 and 2008. They're a team that feature two of the best BCHL players from the Kootenays (Jones twins) and a team the fans in Trail love to hate. A great challenge? Absolutely, but also a great way to test this team. A win tonight would sure have the city buzzing.

Last year's season series against Vernon didn't go Trail's way. You can get details over at the blog of vipersdiehardfan. The Vipers won it 6-2. However, Trail did get two early wins against Vernon when the Smokies actually had a healthy line-up. They did it with energy, hard work, physical play and strong goaltending. That's a recipe for success against the skilled Vipers if everything clicks. We'll see if Trail can execute that tonight. Expect Devon Murtagh to get his first start with the Smokies tonight. I imagine there will be a rotation early until one guy really stands out. I had the chance to chat with both coaches to preview the game on Mountain FM's Overtime. Here's what they had to say...

Smokies Coach Jim Ingram

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Vipers Coach Mark Ferner

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Game time is 7:30pm tonight. Don't miss it. The home opener is a really good way to set the tone for the way this season could go. I'm hoping this can really be a banner year for fan support in Trail.


As I mentioned earlier, the Smoke Eaters acquired defenceman Marc-Antoine Chaput from Surrey for future considerations today. He's a 1991 born defenceman who from what I hear plays with a lot of speed and skill. The Quebeec native is listed at 5'10 and 170lbs. He's only 17 yet as he has a December birthday. Chaput was also on the radar of the QMJHL as you can find his profile page on their website. Looks like it was Chicoutimi who was having a look at him. Chaput played last year for the Harrington College Icebergs, but I have had a ton of trouble navigating their website to try and find any statistics for him. Usually my digging turns something up! Looks like he'll have to remain a mystery until we see him in the line-up. That may happen tonight if he makes it in time. Chaput also played one game for the Eagles and was a third star for them in one of their pre-season games. I spoke to both Coach Ingram and Surrey Coach Shane Kuss about what we can expect from Chaput...

Coach Ingram on Chaput

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Surrey Coach Shane Kuss on Chaput

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Kuss speaks very highly of Chaput's skills. I guess we'll have to see for ourselves either tonight at home or tomorrow in Vernon. I'm just psyched we have another player from Quebec so I can bust out the "ET LE BUT" call! I thought it was dead after JF Boisvert went to McGill. See you at the rink tonight!

EDIT: You know why I can't find information on Chaput's stats? The Harrington College Icebergs played in the United Junior Hockey League for most of last season until they actually left the league in February. Sounds like that was quite a gong show. In fact the four Canadian teams that left the league together had their own playoff and it didn't even go down as planned. Harrington lost in the semi-final, but the team that beat them (Saint-Lawrence) refused to play against their opponent (Team Ulysse) in the championship series due to an earlier incident between the two teams. Harrington took up the spot in the finals and actually won the "league championship" for the UJHL's spare parts. Such a strange story. No wonder I can't find any statistics.

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