(Tye Lewis showing another side of his game in the USHL)
As the two playoff overtime games against Westside slipped away from Trail to end last season there was a great cry from Smokies fans... if only we had that "one shot scorer" who could break a game open with one flick of his wrists. If only we had a sniper to convert all the chances our hard work generates. If only... Tye Lewis had been in town a little early?
Perhaps the search for that elusive one shot scorer is over. Through three games Tye Lewis has scored 2 out of 4 of Trail's goals. He didn't do anything fancy. There was no one timer or spectacular deke. Lewis just came down the left wing and ripped one shot far side and the other shot short side. He plain and simple beat two different goalies with clean and open shots. Professional quality shots.
Lewis' game isn't completely polished. He's a good enough athlete with a good enough shot that if his game were totally polished he'd probably be in college already. He has played in the USHL and the NAHL with his share of success. Now in his 20 year old season he has to prove he can be a go to guy in a top level Junior A league. However, he's got all the tools to absolutely be one of the best offensive players in the BCHL. It also gives Trail a look they haven't had since Jim Ingram took over. Most of the team's goals will still be scored by battling, driving the net, tipping pucks, making passes... but now they also have a guy who can flick his wrists and put the puck top corner. When the opponent has to respect that weapon they also have to leave some other space open elsewhere in the offensive zone. His addition should also make a difference on the man advantage though we haven't seen much from the power play yet.
Am I jumping the gun here? Probably. But you don't need to see a guy shoot the puck a thousand times to know what kind of a shot he has. That doesn't mean he's going to take advantage of his gifts the way he could. It doesn't mean he doesn't have to keep improving his all around game to be an overall plus player on the team. It doesn't mean his teammates are going to do a good enough job getting him the puck. It just means suddenly Trail has a one shot scorer who can change the game with that shot. I caught up with Tye last night on Mountain FM's Overtime and asked the junior hockey veteran about the team's reaction to Coach Jim Ingram's frustration with their recent play...
Tye seems to understand that he has to develop his whole game in order to move on to the next level. It's the age old story of a player with all the tools who just needs to keep learning how to use them. He of course isn't the only one. There are lots of players with offensive tools in their toolbox on this team. So far we haven't seen enough use out of them. Paul Mailey and Nick Sandor have the talent to be point per game guys and they've yet to get on to the score sheet. Colin Lidster and Darnell Dyck said this summer they want a chance to prove they can produce in the BCHL with more ice time, but they've yet to get on to the score sheet. Riley Loyst, Justin Brown and Sean Nugent all play a strong two-way game, but we haven't seen any scoring yet. Only two Smokies have more than a single point! Those are just a couple of names out of a whole team of players who have to start making things happen offensively or they're not going to keep getting those opportunities.
It is absurdly early and I'm not saying it's time to write anyone off. However, a couple of goals and an assist in four games should not mean that Tye Lewis has been involved in 75% of Trail's goals. If you want to be a go-to guy and earn a chance to continue your career in college and in the pros you have to produce against the best. Playing Vernon is no excuse if you want to play against Boston University. This game against Penticton is another opportunity for these guys to test themselves and see what they're made of.
...Beaver Valley lost 3-1 to Spokane in KIJHL action tonight. 1992 born Braves forward Dylan Tappe scored a goal and has 12 points in 6 games so far. That's after scoring 50 points in 52 games as a 16 year old. How is this player still in Junior B? The loss means BV and Spokane split their two games this week as the Nitehawks beat the Braves 4-3 on Sunday. Spokane leads the Neil Murdoch Division, Nelson is 2 points back with a game in hand, BV is third, Castlegar fourth and Grand Forks fifth. There are players from Trail's spring camp and training camp all over this division. It's also a league that has produced a lot of future BCHL talent.
...As you read on the new Trail Smoke Eaters website, D KodiSawkwa (90) has been dealt by Trail to the Laronge Ice Wolves of the SJHL to make room for Marc-Antoine Chaput's addition. I only met Sawka briefly, but I could tell he's a class act and someone who deserves to find success if he does head to Laronge. If not, I could see him heading back to Lloysminster to lead his team to another provincial Junior B championship. Kodi is tough, smart and seemed to me to have good hockey sense. I think he could at least be a 5-6 guy for most teams at this level. Unfortunately the numbers game and being a 19 year old rookie can catch up to you even if you're good enough for the job.
...The BCHL message board is ripping Penticton Coach Fred Harbinson for trading forward JCLirette (89) to the WinklerFlyers for the playing rights of Sam Gemmell and future considerations. When someone moves in and out that quickly perhaps it just wasn't the right fit? Why does every trade have to be seen as a broken promise? Until you have an actual reason to believe that there was some kind of "betrayal" involved I don't think it's fair to speculate. Of course that's an easy game to play on an anonymous message board. I will admit all too often teams and players are all too willing to break commitments they made to each other. However, there is no reason to believe that was the case in this situation.
...Quesnel also made a deal with Winkler by trading D Josh Martin (90) to the MJHL team for future considerations. Martin is a solid stay-at-home type who hadn't played yet this season so obviously needed to find some playing time. I wish him luck in Manitoba, but I can't help but think of one thing whenever Josh Martin's name comes time mind...