Late breaking news tonight that the Trail Smoke Eaters have made a change in goal. Devon Murtagh and the Smoke Eaters parted ways today as the veteran 20 year old goaltender just could not get his career in Trail off the ground. Everyone I talk to about Murtagh stresses how classy and mature he is. I know Jim Ingram told me today that Devon will succeed at whatever goals he decides to pursue in life, and they're very disappointed that it didn't work out in Trail. That being said, the goaltending tandem will now change as the Smoke Eateres have acquired Kiefer Smiley from the Cowichan Valley Capitals for future considerations.
Smiley went into this season as the starter for the Capitals but seems to have been supplanted by the arrival of 16 year old Laurent Brossoit from the WHL. Kiefer is a goaltender Coach Ingram knows well as he coached him as a 16 year old in the VIJHL. Smiley had a very successful season under Ingram with the Kerry Park Islanders and I know Jim has been following his career ever since. For Kerry Park, Smiley had a 2.86 GAA and 89.31 save percentage in 32 games as a 16 year old. Smiley spent last season bouncing between Cowichan Valley and Quesnel as the Capitals loaned him to the Millionaires when that northern squad ran into some serious injury troubles between the pipes. Perhaps this move will give Kiefer a positive change of scenery and a chance to establish himself in one place.
Two seasons ago as a 17 year old Smiley had a save percentage over 90% in over 30 games. He can play at this level. Ingram expects him and Garrett Beckwith to form a very solid tandem for the Smokies that will give his skaters a chance to win every night. He also mentioned to me that he's very happy with the way Beckwith has played while under siege every night recently in the Trail net. The compete level is something Ingram stresses when discussing both of these goaltenders. He says Smiley is excited to come to Trail and may even get into one of this weekend's games.
There was also another move today as the Smoke Eaters sent Matt Malenstyn home. Malenstyn gamely converted to forward this season after playing his entire career on the blue line. He worked his butt off to try to make it work, but it appears the experiment in Trail at least is over. I hope that this hard working and classy young man gets another opportunity to take his career to the next level. There should be plenty of chances for a 6'7 monster who has the right attitude.
I know I personally hate to see anyone go and can't imagine how hard a GM's job is at this level. I wish both Malenstyn and Murtagh the absolute best of luck in whatever they end up doing next. As for the Smoke Eaters, they need to put a smile (Smiley?) on their faces and force themselves to enjoy the game again this weekend. Suck it up and get that losing vibe out of their system. We'll see if these guys have the character to fight out of this hole and play the hockey they are capable of this weekend at home.
I'll see you at the rink tomorrow night against Quesnel and Sunday afternoon when Williams Lake is in town. Tune in to Mountain FM just after 8pm tonight for an interview with Coach Ingram on tonight's changes. It'll be up on the blog later.