Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Smokies, RTMH Address H1N1

This is Edmonton Oilers defenceman Ladislav Smid taking a tumble. He is one of three NHL players who contracted the H1N1 virus. I don't know if any of you caught one of the stories on the flu bug running through the Oilers dressing room, but it certainly is just another example of how quickly any illness can spread on a hockey team. With all the concern about H1N1 this fall (especially in light of a young player dying in Ontario) it is no surprise that local hockey clubs are doing what they can to protect their players. Today on Mountain FM's Overtime I had a chance to chat with both Brian Youngson of the Smokies and Rossland Trail Minor Hockey President Shawn Brandt about what precautions their respective organizations are taking.

Smokies Assistant Coach Brian Youngson

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Rossland Trail Minor Hockey President Shawn Brandt

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I know we're all crossing our fingers and hoping we don't see any cases in our area or in the BCHL. Odds are there will be and these efforts should help contain the spread. Hopefully all teams across the province are vigilant.


...The BCHL did a nice article on Smoke Eaters leading scorer Tye Lewis this week. It seems like the odds were stacked against Tye ever getting to play a high level of hockey but his family supported him and he's worked hard to get here. Here's hoping he'll get that college opportunity he's looking for. First let's hope the Smokies get those wins he was talking about too!

...The owner of the Rider News Blog left a comment on this blog letting us know that Fernie Ghostriders forward Jesse Niemi will be joining the Smoke Eaters this weekend. It's late so I haven't had the chance to chat with the Smokies staff about that, but I would assume he would be coming as an AP. Niemi has an interesting history as he hadn't played hockey for a year and a half before jumping into the KIJHL with Fernie last winter. He was their top scorer in the playoffs with 14 points in 11 games and is now is third in KIJHL scoring as a 20 year old with 25 points in 15 games. If he is joining the Smokies for the weekend it is another step in quite a come back for Niemi.

...In KIJHL news, Grand Forks continued their early season deck shuffling by sending 20 year old forward Bent Lucente to the VIJHL's Peninsula Panthers for 20 year old defenceman Adam Taylor and 18 year old forward Jake Newman. Newman tried out with both Williams Lake and Merritt in the BCHL this season. The Panthers are partly owned by former Victoria Grizzlies GM Jackson Penny. Lucente only lasted 13 games with Grand Forks but will now have a chance to play with former Smoke Eater James Kellington on a very good Peninsula team. It's a long way from home but perhaps his best chance to end his junior career on a winning note.

...Also of note in the KIJHL this past weekend two different players in the Neil Murdoch Division scored four goals in a game on the same day! Castlegar native and 1993 born Aaron Hadley scored four times against Fernie for Beaver Valley while veteran Castlegar Rebels tough guy Joel Robinson put four goals in against Grand Forks. The next day former Smoke Eater and current Nelson forward Scott Jago scored five points against the Border Bruins.

...Former Smoke Eater and Trail native Steve McCarthy didn't get very long to get to know his new coach. The Chicago Wolves of the AHL fired Don Granato after a 1-5 start to the AHL season for the usual power house farm team of the Atlanta Thrashers. McCarthy isn't having a great start to the season either as he has only a single point and is a -6 in 8 games. He is also getting a chance to play with Chris Chelios for a while. The ageless wonder played his first two AHL games with the Wolves on the weekend and had 2 points. Hard not to learn from him! Manny Legace is one of their goalies and Angelo Esposito is on the roster. It's a pretty loaded squad and I'm sure they'll bounce back.

...The Smoke Eaters played their best road games of the season in Nanaimo and Cowichan Valley when they were set up in a "home base" in Nanaimo and weren't forced to travel any great distance to and from the games. The Smokies are doing the same thing this weekend for their games up north against Williams Lake, Prince George and Quesnel. Just something to keep an eye on.

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