Click here for video highlights from Saturday's game. Here is some audio that aired tonight on Mountain FM's Overtime as the Smoke Eaters get set for their re-match with Merritt on Tuesday night. Don't forget our broadcast of Nelson Ford Trail Smoke Eaters Hockey will be live on Mountain FM at 6:45. Incidentally, one of the interviews in this post is with former Smoke Eater Dylan Herold from before Saturday's game.
...Eddie Gregory has the Burnaby perspective from Saturday's game and the rest of their Interior trip. Their winless visit to this part of the province reminds me a lot of when Victoria had the same trouble last season. Burnaby is a very good team and will I'm sure continue to be a force in the Coastal Conference. They've got 17 guys who are at least 6 feet tall! Gregory says they likely really missed their Captain Dylan Herold on Saturday. It's nice to see his career has reached the potential many thought Dylan had after two seasons in Trail. I hope that progression keeps up.
...Speaking of former Smoke Eaters, Merritt picked one up just before their game against Trail. The Cents dealt defenceman Brad Bourke to Prince George for forward Andrew Pickering. Both players are 20 year olds whose starts don't quite match up with what they are capable of producing. Pickering at different points of last season was a point per game player for both Trail and Prince George. Bourke has 22 points in 30 games after being moved to Merritt from the AJHL. So far this year Pickering has 4 points in 8 games while Bourke played much of the first month at forward and hadn't really found his game under the new Merritt staff. I think this kind of a deal could be very good for both sides as it may be a classic example of a change of scenery and new opportunity re-igniting a player's season. I know last season I was very impressed by both players and expect they will both be key cogs with their new teams. Looking forward to catching up with Andrew in Merritt and to seeing how he'll fit in with this scrappy Merritt squad. Click here for the Cents blog take on the trade and click here for the Sprucies blog take on the deal.
...The Vernon Vipers finally lost! For the first time since the fourth game of the BCHL finals last season Vernon tasted defeat on Saturday. What an impressive run for a team that is really an example of a well oiled machine. As for the Vees, they appear to have been badly out shot in the game, but they got a couple of key things that count more than shots. Denver Manderson and Sean Bonar proved their worth as clutch players with the game winning goal and shut out respectively. The Vees are a very skilled team who also showed on Saturday that they can grind it out with the best. I expect that match up will be a very good one all year long. Click here for the VDHF blog report and click here for all the fallout on Ryan Pinder's Boston Pizza Vees This Week broadcast. By the way the Vipers and Vees are ranked 1 and 2 in the country this week. Who said the Interior Conference was tough?
...Some credit to the Kootenay Major Midget team this week. After a 9-0 loss to the Okanagan Rockets on Saturday they pulled up their socks and battled their butts off in a 4-3 loss on Sunday morning. There are a ton of challenges in putting together a Major Midget team in this area and these boys deserve a ton of credit for battling hard. If they keep heading in the right direction like that the wins will come.
...Former Smoke Eater and Rossland native Patrik Martin had two points as his Simon Fraser University team hammered Selkirk College 11-0 in BCIHL action on the weekend. The Selkirk squad has a lot of talent and will find their way, but SFU looks like an early favourite.
...In the KIJHL, Erik Wentzel returned to Castlegar from Williams Lake and promptly scored a hat trick in an 11-1 win over Columbia Valley. Spencer Brodt had 5 goals in Castlegar's two weekend victories. They were the team of the weekend in the Neil Murdoch Division and are now tied with Nelson for second in the division. They both also have three games in hand on Spokane. Beaver Valley lost both their weekend games, but after getting down 6-0 after the first period in Spokane the Nitehawks fought back to get within a goal. They ended up losing 8-5 on a couple of last minute goals, but it took a lot of heart for them to battle back like that when the game appeared to be over early. We are blessed with a lot of great hockey in the West Kootenay Boundary! I think all of Nelson, Beaver Valley, Castlegar and Grand Forks will provide us with some great drama and entertainment this year.
...I can't believe how many Vancouver Canuck fans are freaking out already. After three games I would say it's just a little bit early to panic!