BROADCAST: You can year tonight's game on Mountain FM. The City of Trail pre-game show starts at 7:15pm. We're available at 104.1 in Trail, 99.3 in Castlegar, 103.5 in Nelson and 96.7 in Grand Forks. If you're out of our listening area we now have a listen live feature on our website. Click here to see if that works for you. The broadcast should also be available in the BCHLFanzone, but it's not a sure thing depending on the quality of my internet connection. You can also follow me on Twitter this season, but I don't know how much I'll be able to post during games.
GAME STORY: After six long months hockey season is finally back. Today's game is all about fresh starts. The most obvious one of course is for the Merritt franchise. At the end of last season many observers felt they were as good as gone. The team was either going to move or fold. However, thanks to new local investment the Cents have new life. Private ownership may have fallen through for now and there have been a couple of coaching changes over the summer, but there is still hope. The terrific attendance for their exhibition games proves there is still hope. This is also a club with a significant number of returning players and some key pick ups from the futures deals they made last year. The man to watch may just be 16 year old goaltender Cole Holowenko. If he's as good as some people think he is, Merritt may just be able to surprise us all.
For the Trail Smoke Eaters the fresh start is more on the ice than off. After a fantastic fall of 2008 (first place in the Interior, ranked nationally, top power play in the BCHL) the wheels fell off. Injuries sunk a promising season to the point that players and fans forgot what a win feels like in January, February and March. Now this group can white the slate clean and start again. It's a fresh start for several players who believe they have more to give. Guys like Colin Lidster, Darnell Dyck and Tye Lewis come to Trail from other Junior A experiences with hopes they can be a bigger piece of the puzzle in a new city. It's a fresh start for 8 rookies that want to show why their success at lower levels wasn't a fluke. It's also a fresh start for returning vets that believe they and their team are capable of accomplishing more than two straight first round exits.
Before the puck drops on the first game of the regular season every team has lofty ambitions. They all have visions of championship glory and scholarships. Tonight is our first chance to see whose dreams may just come true.
Here's a pre-game interview I did with Coach Ingram last night on Mountain FM's Overtime...
Of note from the interview? Colin Lidster is the third and final alternate captain for the Smoke Eaters this season. He joins Justin Brown and Sean Nugent as alternates. Paul Mailey wears the C. I should also note there is a significant local contingent on this year's team. Mailey, Brown, Steve Koshey, Travis St. Denis, Thomas Abenante and Eric Walker. They're all West Kootenay boys. When you expand that list to the East Kootenay you can include Matt Wilkins, Sam Mellor and Scott Jacklin.