Sunday, January 31, 2010

Points over 60 games



I've compiled a list of what Trail's individual point totals would look like if everyone had played 60 games (current total divided by games played times 60) and here is how it turned out. Obviously some players have larger sample sizes than others.
  • Mike Betz - 71
  • Scott Jacklin - 68
  • Nick Sandor - 67
  • Sam Mellor - 63
  • Travis St. Denis - 57
  • Matt Wilkins - 41
  • Steve Koshey - 40
  • Darnell Dyck - 35
  • Paul Mailey - 33
  • Mitch Kaufmann - 29
  • Tommy Rizzardo - 25
  • Wade Bennett - 24
  • Curtis Tonello - 20
  • Graeme Strukoff - 20
  • Justin Brown -19
  • Thomas Abenante - 17
  • Steve Oursov - 17
  • Ben Matthews - 15
  • Sean Nugent - 11
  • Eric Walker - 11
  • Taylor Swaffield - 9
  • Josh McEwan - 7 (227 PIM)
If you did the same exercise for last year's team only one player (Ryan Bulach) would finish at 60 points or higher. Two seasons ago there wouldn't have been a single one. Three seasons ago again there would only have been one (David Arduin) at 60 or higher. The last time Trail had this many players who would finish at 60 points or higher was 2004-05.

What does that say? Lack of skill isn't a problem when the roster is relatively healthy. At one time the back end was inexperienced, but with 50 games under their belt and the addition of a couple of experienced guys it's harder to say that now. Plus there are 5 different defencemen who would put up 20 or more points over 60 games at their current pace. Bottom line is young or not these guys are good enough to win hockey games and play better than they did this week. They proved it in some great games against teams like Penticton, Vernon, Powell River and others. They showed just a glimpse at what this group is capable of over December and early January. The question is not what can they accomplish, the question maybe is will they do what it takes? Do they believe and realize how good they can be? Can they be consistent enough to use that talent to the right ends?

This injury situation sucks there's no question about it. It's hard to play without 3 out of 4 of your centers. It's tough to play without 3 of your experienced minute eaters on the back end. It's tough... but there is enough talent on this roster that they should have been better this week and we all know they can be. There's no reason for this group to only score twice in 2 games at home. There's no reason for this group to ever go 20 minutes without a shot.

It doesn't look like they're going to lose much ground this weekend although Prince George and Merritt still have games on Sunday. However, the Spruce Kings play Williams Lake, Nanaimo and Burnaby as a part of their final month, while Trail only has one game against a team with a losing record. The playoffs are far from certain. Their work ethic better be more consistent than it was against Langley and Powell River or these guys may not make March... and that would be a terrible shame given just how talented they are.

I don't think they'll waste it.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Smokies Jersey Auction Closed



Thanks to everyone who bid on the 1939 Smoke Eaters replica jerseys. Auction is now closed and winners will be notified.
  • Kiefer Smiley: $165
  • Garrett Beckwith: $200
  • Graeme Strukoff: $250
  • Ben Matthews: $150
  • Wade Bennett: $250
  • Curtis Tonello: $145
  • Eric Walker: $210
  • Steve Koshey: $250
  • Tommy Rizzardo: $175
  • Travis St. Denis: $500
  • Darnell Dyck: $140
  • Sam Mellor: $225
  • Scott Jacklin: $150
  • Matt Wilkins: $150
  • Nick Sandor: $150
  • Josh McEwan: $170
  • Mike Betz: $170
  • Sean Nugent: $250
  • Justin Brown: $200
  • Thomas Abenante: $160
  • Taylor Swaffield: $165
  • Steve Oursov: $180
  • Paul Mailey: $300
  • Mitch Kaufmann: $210

Friday, January 29, 2010

Zanier talks 4-1 loss to Langley


Smokies Assistant Coach Barry Zanier on Mountain FM's Overtime

Click here to download

Jan 29th Retro Jersey Auction Update



Updates are in bold. You only have until tomorrow night at 6pm to get your bids in. Check this page and the official website for updates up until the deadline.

For those of you looking for your chance to bid on a certain player's jersey here are the current bids. If you want to try and top the current bid send an e-mail to Tom at remax1@telus.net

  • Kiefer Smiley: $140
  • Garrett Beckwith: $200
  • Graeme Strukoff: $210
  • Ben Matthews: $150
  • Wade Bennett: $250
  • Curtis Tonello: $145
  • Eric Walker: $200
  • Steve Koshey: $240
  • Tommy Rizzardo: $175
  • Travis St. Denis: $500
  • Darnell Dyck: $140
  • Sam Mellor: $200
  • Scott Jacklin: $125
  • Matt Wilkins: $150
  • Nick Sandor: $130
  • Josh McEwan $130
  • Mike Betz: $130
  • Sean Nugent: $200
  • Justin Brown: $190
  • Thomas Abenante: $150
  • Taylor Swaffield: $125
  • Steve Oursov: $180
  • Paul Mailey: $300
  • Mitch Kaufmann: $200
The auction closes on January 30th at 6pm. All bids must include a name and phone number.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

2010 Trail Smoke Eaters Spring Camp


The Trail Smoke Eaters are holding their annual spring camp this year on April 2nd, 3rd and 4th at the Cominco Arena in Trail. Participants are guaranteed at least five on ice sessions and a t-shirt. The camp is open to all players born between the years of 1990 and 1994.

Goaltending spots will be determined by invite only.

To register for the camp download the application form and fax it to (250) 364-9920, scan and e-mail it to tsecoach@telus.net or send it to:

P.O. Box 313
Trail, BC
V1R 4L6

Should you have any questions or require further information feel free to contact Coach and General Manager Jim Ingram via e-mail or by phone at (250) 364-9994.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ingram talks Powell River loss


Smokies Coach and GM Jim Ingram on Mountain FM's Overtime

Click here to download

January 27th Retro Jersey Auction Update



Updates are in bold.

For those of you looking for your chance to bid on a certain player's jersey here are the current bids. If you want to try and top the current bid send an e-mail to Tom at remax1@telus.net

  • Kiefer Smiley: $140
  • Garrett Beckwith: $200
  • Graeme Strukoff: $200
  • Ben Matthews: $150
  • Wade Bennett: $250
  • Curtis Tonello: $145
  • Eric Walker: $180
  • Steve Koshey: $225
  • Tommy Rizzardo: $175
  • Travis St. Denis: $500
  • Darnell Dyck: $140
  • Sam Mellor: $200
  • Scott Jacklin: $125
  • Matt Wilkins: $150
  • Nick Sandor: $125
  • Josh McEwan $130
  • Mike Betz: $130
  • Sean Nugent: $200
  • Justin Brown: $190
  • Thomas Abenante: $150
  • Taylor Swaffield: $125
  • Steve Oursov: $150
  • Paul Mailey: $300
  • Mitch Kaufmann: $200
The auction closes on January 30th at 6pm. All bids must include a name and phone number.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Brown carries torch and road trip audio



Smokies forward and Trail native Justin Brown got the chance to carry the Olympic flame in Cranbrook this weekend. The injured Smoke Eaters alternate captain chatted with me tonight on Mountain FM's Overtime.

Smokies forward Justin Brown talks torch

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Congrats to Justin on what was I'm sure a pretty cool experience. Now we're just hoping to see him and all the other injured Smoke Eaters back in the line-up as soon as possible. Right now a total of seven Smokies are on the mend. Graeme Strukoff, Mitch Kaufmann, Thomas Abenante and Brown didn't make the road trip. Travis St. Denis, Curtis Tonello and Sam Mellor all got hurt during the trip. At this point only Abenante's injury appears to be season ending, but you never know what you're going to get until that hurt player steps back onto the ice. We'll see what kind of line-up the Smokies can put together tomorrow night against Powell River!

ROAD TRIP AUDIO

Nelson Ford Smokies Play by Play: Trail 5 Powell River 4

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Nelson Ford Smokies Play by Play: Victoria 4 Trail 1

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Nelson Ford Smokies Play by Play: Alberni Valley 4 Trail 2

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Nelson Ford Smokies Play by Play: Langley 8 Trail 5

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Former Smoke Eater Tye Lewis of the Alberni Valley Bulldogs

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COAST VS. INTERIOR

I mentioned on my twitter that I was going to look up the stats comparing the coast to the interior when it comes to penalties taken. The coastal teams average just under 1 more "time shorthanded" per game than the interior teams. The top 4 most penalized teams are coastal clubs (Langley, Burnaby, Nanaimo and Surrey) while the 4 least penalized teams are interior teams (Prince George, Trail, Penticton and Vernon). Langley (who Trail played on Sunday and will host Thursday) is either on the power play or shorthanded an average of 12.68 times a game, while Trail is on the power play or shorthanded only an average of 9 times a game. I don't think it's a co-incidence as it appears the game is called somewhat differently on each side of the province.

Post Game: Langley 8 Trail 5

I had one fan e-mail me to ask if I was just as annoyed with the amount of penalties in today's game as I was for yesterday's even though this time Trail had the majority of the power play chances.

It did annoy me sure and I said as much on the broadcast. It wasn't quite the same thing because the man advantages weren't all concentrated basically in one period. However, I will say I find that when there are so many calls like that it really takes the flow out of the game. It's just not interesting for me to see teams on the power play that often. Maybe that's just me as others seem to want the games called really tightly. I prefer more even strength play as I think it's usually pretty wide open 5 on 5 in this league. Here's the recap from this afternoon:


Langley, BC - Trail's offense finally woke up, but it was too little too late. After only generating 5 goals in their last 8 periods, the Smokies scored 3 in the third against Langley to start what would have been an improbable come back.

Goals by Steve Koshey, Scott Jacklin and Steve Oursov cut Langley's 7-2 lead to 7-5 with lots of time left. However, a Matt Wilkins penalty and the resulting power play goal by Brandon Thompson put it out of reach.

The Smokies certainly had their chances as they went 1 for 9 on the man advantage. Langley won the special teams war by scoring twice on their 3 power plays and adding a shorthanded goal by Trevor Gerling when the game was still close.

Brad McBride scored a hat trick for the Chiefs to pick up first star honours. Langley handed Trail their third straight loss to close out a road trip that started with a promising overtime win in Powell River. The Smoke Eaters will get another shot at the Chiefs on Thursday in Trail.

Mike Betz and Sam Mellor had the other Smoke Eater goals. Koshey added an assist to his goal for a 2 point night. Nick Sandor picked up 2 assists.

The next action for Trail is a visit from Powell River at the Cominco Arena on Tuesday night.

ON THE TRAIL: The injuries are piling up for the Smoke Eaters. Both Curtis Tonello and Sam Mellor left the game against Langley banged up. The extent of their injuries is not known at this point. Add them to an injured list that includes Travis St. Denis, Justin Brown, Thomas Abenante, Graeme Strukoff and Mitch Kaufmann. Trail is now down to 10 healthy forwards and 5 defencemen ... Smokies Coach Jim Ingram yanked his goaltender for the second straight game. In Port Alberni he sent Garrett Beckwith in relief of Kiefer Smiley while in Langley the roles were reversed. It wasn't a great night for any of the 3 goaltenders as the teams combined for 13 goals on 67 shots. The shots were quite even as the Chiefs had 34 to 33 for Trail ... The end of this four game road swing leaves Trail with only 3 games left away from the Cominco Arena. The Smokies will play 7 straight games at home over the next few weeks with an opportunity to solidify their playoff position.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Stolen Game

I know I question calls here and there so it's not like I go easy on referees generally. It's part of the game. That being said, I don't think I'm normally a ref basher. I know they have a hard job, they're underpaid and the only thing anyone ever pays attention to is when they make a mistake. It's not fair. That being said, tonight`s display was a disgrace.

When I say "stolen game" in the title of this blog I don't specifically mean tonight's game was stolen from Trail. I certainly don't mean to denigrate how the Alberni Valley Bulldogs played. They're a very talented team who absolutely could beat any team in the BCHL on most nights.

Instead I mean tonight's game between the Smoke Eaters and Alberni Valley Bulldogs was stolen from both teams and the fans.

Referee Steven Bratt called 20 minor penalties during tonight's game. That's 40 minutes of minor penalties in a 60 minute game. The teams combined for 16 power plays. Basically half of the game was one team holding the man advantage. After a pretty entertaining first period it seemed like we didn't go 30 seconds without a whistle for something.

As for how Bratt called the game from Trail's perspective, I would think the numbers speak for themselves. The Smoke Eaters had to kill off 11 power plays. Given that they average having to kill 4.6 power plays a game Trail must have been particularly nasty tonight! That's kind of funny since only Vernon and Penticton have been shorthanded less than Trail this season.

In the third period alone the Smokies were shorthanded 8 times. That's nearly twice the number of times Trail is normally on the penalty kill in a full game... all in a single period. One of those times was a full 2 minute 5 on 3 that they dramatically killed. The period also included the ejection of the usually calm and collected Trail Captain Paul Mailey during a discussion with the referee. I wonder why Mailey was upset? Possibly because what we witnessed during the third period of tonight's game was an absolute embarassment.

Don't let it seem like my outrage was reserved only for Bratt's treatment of the Smoke Eaters. It also seemed quite obvious in the game that he had some kind of issue with Mitch MacMillan. The Bulldogs sniper found himself in the box three times including an unsportsmanlike conduct minor. Bratt also ignored what I thought would be an obvious penalty against Trail (given everything else he had called in the game) when the infraction was committed against MacMillan. Someone gives him a little bit of grief and suddenly he's under the magnifying glass all game.

Hockey is an emotional game. Players and coaches get mad sometimes and give referees hell. You can kind of see why they would. Their jobs and careers depend on winning hockey games. The referees? The result means nothing to them. That's why the good ones don't get emotional. That's why the good ones don't let anything that happens in a game or anything that is said to them influence the way they call a game.

The bad ones? Check out tonight's boxscore.

We all make mistakes. I screw up all the time as I try hard to improve my craft relatively early in my career. I expect the same reality to apply to young referees in the BCHL who are early in their careers as well. However, there's a big difference between screwing up a call or two and ruining a hockey game. I've been looking forward to getting my first look at the Bulldogs this season and seeing how the Smoke Eaters would match up. As far as I'm concerned the officiating tonight ruined the game and stole that opportunity from the fans.

Referees should not be the story of the game. They should never act like they're a big part of the show. They can't get emotional. They especially shouldn't take over a game to the point that they can't seem to stay out of the way. Tonight's game was a virtual seminar on how not to call a game. I credit the Smokies tonight for not giving up in the third period. They battled in cutting the deficit to 2-1 and 4-2 at the start and finish of the period. They battled hard in killing a full 2 minute 5 on 3. They battled in keeping the Bulldogs to only 2 power play goals in those 11 opportunities. The Smoke Eaters can hold their heads up high for how they keep fighting to stay in the game no matter what was thrown in their way.

Next time fans at home get set to complain about our local refs try to remember what we saw in Port Alberni tonight. We are lucky to have the guys we have at the Cominco Arena every weekend. As far as I'm concerned they're the class of the league. I can't wait to see the Bulldogs come to Trail so we can actually see what a real game between the two teams would be like.

I'm not saying the officiating was the reason the Bulldogs won. Instead I'm saying it was the reason we didn't actually see a hockey game tonight. I'm not sure what it was... but it sure wasn't a hockey game.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Video Highlights: Trail 5 Powell River 4 (OT)

Post Game: Victoria 4 Trail 1

Thanks to Bruce Stotesbury for the pictures from tonight's game in Victoria.

Victoria, BC - The Grizzlies put Trail's offense into hibernation on Friday night. Despite averaging 39 shots in their last 6 games, the Smokies could only put 17 on Victoria goaltender Ryan Holfeld in a 4-1 loss.

The Grizzlies got out to a quick lead with 2 goals in 61 seconds mid-way through the first period. The fast start allowed Victoria to play a shut down game the rest of the way in what was a smothering display of defensive hockey.

It looked like the Smokies would get out of a lopsided second period still only down by 2 when Brandon Fagerheim may have put the final nail in Trail's coffin by scoring with 16 seconds left in the frame.

With a 3 goal deficit to overcome in the third the Smokies just couldn't get anything going. Victoria held them to only 9 shots in the final 40 minutes.

Trail came to life a little bit when a Gregory Simpson hit from behind on Sam Mellor drew the ire of both Steve Koshey and the referee. The Smokies defenceman dropped the glove to defend his teammate and Trail was able to take advantage of the resulting power play. Scott Jacklin scored the goal by tipping in a point blast from Curtis Tonello.

The goal was Jacklin's 15th of the season and his team leading 9th power play goal. Mellor got the other assist on the play.

Garrett Beckwith made 27 saves on 30 shots against before heading to the bench for a 6 on 5 attack late in the game. Joel Lowry put an end to that attack with an empty net marker.

The win was the 7th straight for Victoria since their 4-0 loss on December 19th in Trail.

ON THE TRAIL: The Smokies list of walking wounded grew after their overtime win in Powell River. Travis St. Denis joins Graeme Strukoff, Mitch Kaufmann, Justin Brown and Thomas Abenante on the list of injured Smoke Eaters. Trail had to call up affiliate player Nikolas Vanstone from Kerry Park in the VIJHL to fill in for the injures St. Denis ... The game was Trail's first in Victoria since the 2007-08 season. It ties the season series at a win each ... It was a home coming for Sean Nugent who played lacrosse for the Victoria Shamrocks. Nugent showed the edge that makes him a tough opponent in both sports when he dropped the gloves in a lively tilt against Brad Pawlowski ... After allowing an early power play goal the Smokies penalty kill held Victoria's man advantage off the board on 5 more opportunities. Trail went 1 for 2 on the power play.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fernie to host 2011 Cyclone Taylor Cup

Congratulations are in order for the Fernie Ghostriders as they've been named the host of next year's Cyclone Taylor Cup. The bidding came down to Fernie, Nelson and Penticton. Fernie will be a proud and successful home of the 2011 BC Junior B provincials. It's unfortunately another let down for Nelson as the Leafs were finalists for this tournament just as they were for this year's Keystone Cup. Kamloops is hosting the Keystone. I felt all along that Nelson and Fernie were the two cities who would do the best job hosting the tournaments and it's too bad that one of the cities had to go without.

I'd certainly rather have seen the Leafs get one event while Fernie got the other. Instead all the local KIJHL teams will have to get to both tournaments the old fashioned way... by winning. Nelson made it to the Cyclone Taylor Cup last year and was a game away from the Keystone. Beaver Valley has a fairly recent Cyclone Taylor Cup on their resume. Given the strength of the Neil Murdoch Division this season I would certainly say that any team coming out of it would be a favourite for the KIJHL championship. I guess we'll see.

GAME TONIGHT

Don't forget tonight in the BCHL your Smoke Eaters are back in action against the Victoria Grizzlies. Trail beat Victoria 4-0 back in December but the Grizzlies were at the end of their long road trip and will be tougher to beat tonight. We'll have the broadcast for you from Victoria on Mountain FM brought to you by Nelson Ford. It's 104.1 FM in Trail and available at www.mountainfm.net

Video Highlights: Trail 5 Williams Lake 2

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Jan 21 Retro Jersey Auction Update



Updates are in bold.

For those of you looking for your chance to bid on a certain player's jersey here are the current bids. If you want to try and top the current bid send an e-mail to Tom at remax1@telus.net
  • Kiefer Smiley: $140
  • Garrett Beckwith: $200
  • Graeme Strukoff: $200
  • Ben Matthews: $150
  • Wade Bennett: $250
  • Curtis Tonello: $145
  • Eric Walker: $160
  • Steve Koshey: $200
  • Tommy Rizzardo: $150
  • Travis St. Denis: $500
  • Darnell Dyck: $140
  • Sam Mellor: $200
  • Scott Jacklin: $125
  • Matt Wilkins: $150
  • Nick Sandor: $125
  • Josh McEwan $130
  • Mike Betz: $125
  • Sean Nugent: $200
  • Justin Brown: $190
  • Thomas Abenante: $135
  • Taylor Swaffield: $125
  • Steve Oursov: $150
  • Paul Mailey: $300
  • Mitch Kaufmann: $200
The auction closes on January 30th at 6pm. All bids must include a name and phone number.

Post Game: Trail 5 Powell River 4

Powell River, BC - Paul Mailey's goal in the second overtime gave Trail a dramatic 5-4 win over the second ranked team in the Coastal Conference. Mailey's goal came after Kings defenceman Reid Campbell lost his footing and turned the puck over to Trail's Captain. It was the 11th point for Mailey in his last 11 games.

The game was a back and forth affair that was tied after all three periods in regulation. Powell River took the first lead on a power play goal by Matt Garabowsky. The Smokies responded on a power play of their own and Nick Sandor notched his 25th of the season.

Trail then took three separate one goal leads on two goals by Sam Mellor and one by Mike Betz. It was the 5th goal in 3 games for Betz since returning to the line-up. Mellor also added an assist. Sandor was the only other Smoke Eater with a multiple point night as he added an assist to his first period goal.

Each time the Smokies took a lead the Kings came back to tie the game. Powell River's power play delivered 3 goals on 7 opportunities while Trail went 1 for 5.

Garrett Beckwith had a strong effort for the Smokies as he stopped 36 of the 40 shots he faced. Beckwith also made key saves at key times. He denied Nelson native Mitch Labreche with 30 seconds left in regulation and stopped a Jordan Grant breakaway in overtime.

The night didn't end well for Powell River goaltender Michael Garteig. After giving up the losing goal Garteig took a match penalty for attacking Smokies goaltender Kiefer Smiley. As Smiley was skating from the bench towards Mailey to celebrate the goal, Garteig twice slashed Smiley in the back of the leg.

The game was Trail's 4th win in their last 5 games and gives the Smokies sole possession of 6th place in the Interior Conference. Quesnel is 1 point ahead in 5th while Merritt is a single point behind in 7th. Prince George is now 6 points out of the final playoff spot and 7 behind the Smoke Eaters.

ON THE TRAIL:
Injuries kept Graeme Strukoff, Mitch Kaufmann, Justin Brown and Thomas Abenante off the road trip. The Smokies only have 18 skaters on the trip and Travis St. Denis left tonight`s game in the third period with a lower body injury. He`s day to day ... The Kings and Smokies meet again this coming Tuesday in Trail ... Powell River has a couple of connections to the Smokies and the West Kootenay. Lebreche is from Nelson and a former Leaf, Chad Niddery played for Grand Forks in the KIJHL and Jordan Grant once played for Smokies Coach Jim Ingram in the VIJHL ... The Smokies will continue their road trip in Victoria on Friday, Port Alberni on Saturday and Langley on Sunday. All games will be available on Mountain FM.

Powell River Interviews (Pre-Game)



Powell River Coach Kent Lewis

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Powell River Broadcaster Dean Merrick

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Smokies Assistant Coach Brian Youngson

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Jan 19 Retro Jersey Auction Update


Updates are in bold.

For those of you looking for your chance to bid on a certain player's jersey here are the current bids. If you want to try and top the current bid send an e-mail to Tom at remax1@telus.net
  • Kiefer Smiley: $140
  • Garrett Beckwith: $200
  • Graeme Strukoff: $200
  • Ben Matthews: $150
  • Wade Bennett: $150
  • Curtis Tonello: $135
  • Eric Walker: $160
  • Steve Koshey: $200
  • Tommy Rizzardo: $150
  • Travis St. Denis: $500
  • Darnell Dyck: $140
  • Sam Mellor: $200
  • Scott Jacklin: $125
  • Matt Wilkins: $150
  • Nick Sandor: $125
  • Josh McEwan $130
  • Mike Betz: $125
  • Sean Nugent: $200
  • Justin Brown: $175
  • Thomas Abenante: $135
  • Taylor Swaffield: $125
  • Steve Oursov: $150
  • Paul Mailey: $250
  • Mitch Kaufmann: $200
The auction closes on January 30th at 6pm. All bids must include a name and phone number.

Post Westside Audio

Nelson Ford Trail Smoke Eaters Hockey on Mountain FM: Westside 7 Trail 3

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Smokies Assistant Coach Brian Youngson

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Smokies Forward Mike Betz

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NOTES

...Don't forget to check out the Smokies retro jersey auction. The lastest bids are just down the blog from this post. Bids are due January 30th.

...Some very frustrating news to report. Justin Brown has sustained an upper body injury and won't make the road trip this week. Boy has he had hard luck in his BCHL career. I remember last season just about this time Justin was just starting to play his best hockey and put up some points when he was out with an injury. Now he has 6 points in his last 3 games and he goes down. With all the karma he's earning he'll be an iron man for the rest of his career. I'm sure the Smokies are wishing one of their best two-way guys a speedy recovery.

...Injuries were also a factor in Trail's poor performance on the PK against Westside. It's tough when you're down 3 veteran defenceman. With Strukoff, Swaffield and Kaufmann all out with injuries the Smokies didn't get the performance they needed from their 5 regulars. AP Bennett Hambrook actually had a very solid debut for the Smokies and plays with a nice edge. He had one rough outing against Trevor Bailey that was kind of a "welcome to the BCHL" moment, but overall Hambrook (of the Nelson Leafs in the KIJHL) is a player to watch. Swaffield should be back on Wednesday against Powell River and Kaufmann should also be back shortly. Strukoff's return date is still no known although he told me he wanted to play on the trip.

...Another two-way guy who has really been performing of late is Captain Paul Mailey. After the 7-3 loss in Westside he has 10 points in his last 10 games. Mailey had 40 points last season and can put up a lot more points than he did in a frustrating first half. He was always valuable on the ice even without the points, but now we're again seeing the kind of player he can be at both ends.

...While there was a lot for the coaching staff to be frustrated about on Sunday they can look to a few positives. One of them was the "pack mentality" Trail continues to display. It's something that was perhaps lacking a bit earlier in the season. The team is standing up for each other no matter which line is on the ice. They're playing as a unit or as a "pack" and that can only lead to good things. There will be no pushing the Smokies around and everyone is buying in. There will be off games like the one on Sunday, but I still get a sense that the team has a much better attitude than back in the early fall. They had points in 7 straight games before the one in West Kelowna so there's no reason to get down on themselves. Wednesday is an important rebound game.

...Despite losing 7-3 I liked how Trail kept pace with the Warriors at even strength. The special teams battle went Westside's way and was the difference in the game. However, you can tell a lot about a team's ability by the way they match up with top teams 5 on 5. If Trail could have stayed out of the box (or gotten some calls) and executed better 5 on 4 or 4 on 5 that would've been a close game. That's a lot of "ifs" but to me its more a comment on how the team's play is still solid in even strength situations. The PK had also been so much better recently until the Westside game. They need to make sure it's only a one time thing as the PK has been a killer for them on the road.

...The playoff race is still very tight. Quesnel and Merritt sit a single point ahead of Trail for 5th place, but the Smokies have games in hand. They have to take advantage of those games during this week's road trip against some tough teams. Prince George is 5 points out and the playoffs are certainly not out of reach for them yet. Trail was 6 points behind Merritt only a few weeks ago and we saw how quickly that gap can get erased.

...One of those opponents for the Smokies this week is Alberni Valley. Congrats goes out to Mitch MacMillan for scoring 50 goals in 49 games. That's quit an accomplishment. Especially when you realize that the next best total so far is Trevor Bailey's 38 goals and Colton Beck is in third spot with 32. Nobody can touch MacMillan's sniping so far this season. It should be interesting to get a look at MacMillan, former Smoke Eater Tye Lewis and the red hot Bulldogs for the first time this week. I always enjoy a visit to what is maybe the loudest crowd in the league. I do have to say though I still think Trail has the smartest fans out there... except for the ones who give me hell... or maybe especially those ones! Don't forget all four games on the trip will be live on Mountain FM.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Post Game: Trail 5 Williams Lake 2

Trail, BC - Mike Betz seems to enjoy playing against Williams Lake. The Smokies sniper has scored hat tricks in each of the two games he has played against the Timberwolves. It was a big return to the line-up for Betz who now has 10 goals on the season.

Justin Brown chipped in with 3 assists while Paul Mailey scored once and had a helper in the Trail win. Mailey has now scored 9 points in his last 9 games after a relatively slow start for the Smokies Captain.

It was the third straight win for Trail. They now have points in their last 7 games.

The game was a close battle for the first 30 minutes. It took until 19:07 of the first period for Darnell Dyck to open the scoring. Clayton McEwan responded for the Timberwolves only 27 seconds into the second.

The Smokies broke the game open on back to back goals by Betz. Mailey's marker then made it 4-1 after the second frame.

Jason Diehl cut in to Trail's lead early in the third period, but Betz' third goal put the game out of reach.

Sean Donelly kept the Timberwolves in the game with 43 saves on 48 shots against. Garrett Beckwith was solid for Trail as he stopped 22 of the 24 shots he faced.

The Smoke Eaters jumped over Merritt into 6th spot in the Interior with the win. They're a single point behind Quesnel for 5th. The next action for Trail is Sunday afternoon at 2:30pm against Westside.

ON THE TRAIL: Sam Mellor sat the game out for Trail after being the second fight after the whistle last weekend against Merritt. Graeme Strukoff, Thomas Abenante, Mitch Kaufmann and Taylor Swaffield were out of the line-up with injuries ... Colton Semenok of the KIJHL's Beaver Valley Nitehawks played for the Smokies as an AP in the game. He picked up an assist on Mailey's goal. Travis St. Denis, Eric Walker, Curtis Tonello, Matt Wilkins and Scott Jacklin also had single assists ... Trail won the series between the two teams 3-1.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Game Day: Williams Lake at Trail



This is a match-up between two teams who were once in the same spot now headed in different directions. It wasn't too long ago that Trail and Williams Lake were less than a handfull of points away from one another. However, since December 5th the Timberwolves have lost 12 of their last 13 games and they're currently in the midst of an 8 game losing skid. Meanwhile, the Smoke Eaters have points in their last 6 games and have won 4 of them.

For Williams Lake this is essentially a must win game if they have any hope of getting back in the playoff race. They basically have to win every game they have left against teams in the bottom 5 of the Interior and get some big upsets against top teams. For Trail it's a matter of building on their recent strong play. A let down against the Timberwolves gives up hugely valuable points and could derail some of their positive momentum. It's a huge game for both teams, and should be a game where they both play desperate hockey. Let's take a look at the season series...

September 27: Williams Lake 2 at Trail 7
October 30: Trail 1 at Williams Lake 6
November 21: Trail 9 at Williams Lake 6

It's been a strange series as the games in Williams Lake were very sloppy from a Trail perspective. After their first meeting in late September it seemed like the Smokies had Williams Lake outclassed. However, the re-match up north was perhaps one of the better games the Timberwolves have played all season as they dominated Trail. The third game between the two teams was a very strange game that saw the team's trade 3 goals on the same power play (Trail twice shorthanded and Williams Lake once) and score a total of 15 goals.

POWER PLAY

Trail: 5/16 (31%)
Williams Lake: 7/17 (41%)

TRAIL TOP SCORERS

1. F Nick Sandor (3-5-8)
2. F Scott Jacklin (2-5-7)
3. F Sam Mellor (4-1-5)
3. F Mike Betz (3-2-5)
3. F Travis St. Denis (2-3-5)

WILLIAMS LAKE TOP SCORERS

1. F Jason Diehl (3-2-5)
1. F Danny Mert (1-4-5)
3. F Ryan Stanimir (2-2-4)
4. F Trent Mudoch (1-2-3)

GOALTENDERS

1. Kiefer Smiley (TRA) 2-0, 4.13GAA, 0. 880%
2. Sean Donnelly (WL) 1-1, 5.00GAA, 0.857%
3. Evan Dauenhauer (WL) 0-1, 6.00GAA, 0.900%
4. Garrett Beckwith (TRA) 0-1, 7.01GAA, 0.826%

ROSTER

Trail

Williams Lake


BROADCAST

There is no home radio broadcast, but the game is available on BCHL PPV. I will also be taking care of the Williams Lake radio broadcast tonight.

Recent Smokies Audio, BCHL Notes


Graeme Strukoff on BCHL All-Star Game

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Smokies Coach Jim Ingram on the weekend ahead

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Smokies Goaltender Kiefer Smiley after Merritt win

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Smokies Forward Justin Brown after Merritt win

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Smokies Assistant Coach Barry Zanier after Merritt win

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Smokies Forward Justin Brown after Merritt win

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NOTES

...A lot of news out of Burnaby this week. The BCHL approved their relocation to Coquitlam and they fired their head coach. Check out Eddie Gregory's Burnaby Expressions blog for all the details. It looks like they'll get a fresh start when the team moves next season. Will wins and will fans follow?

...The expansion Dawson Creek Rage of the NAHL have hired former Cowichan Valley Coach Scott Robinson to be their first Coach/GM. That's a great hire for a new club. Talk about a guy who has connections not only all throughout the BCHL but also the rest of the Junior A hockey world. They must have been willing to make a significant investment in their coaching to lure Scott off Vancouver Island before he had a chance to go for any BCHL vacancies in the off season.

...Vernon beat the BCHL All-Stars 7-2 on Wednesday. I talked to someone else in the BCHL who expressed a significant amount of surprise at the result. I wasn't shocked at all. The Vipers have four lines of guys who could be top 6 players and a lot of them have played together for two seasons or more. The skill discrepancy wasn't so high that it would negate the advantage a well established team would have. I think it's a poor way to show off the BCHL's top players because in a way it made them look bad. What do you expect when you put a team together that has no history with one another against a team as good as Vernon? Notice Nanaimo gave them a better run yesterday than the All-Stars did.

...The Neil Murdoch team dominated the Eddie Mountain team in the KIJHL All-Star Game live on Mountain FM. Most of the Neil Murdoch scoring game from the players who make up the Beaver Valley, Castlegar, Nelson and Spokane rosters. It's not a surprise that it is the most competative division in the league. Former Smoke Eater AP Jason Greenwell was terrific in goal as he pitched a first half shut out.

...In the BCHL last night the playoff race at the bottom of the Interior just got tighter. Prince George broke their recent losing streak with a 6-4 win in Quesnel while Merritt lost a tight 3-2 game against Penticton. As a result, PG is now 3 points behind Trail for 7th while Trail remains a single point behind Quesnel and Merritt for 5th.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Smokies Retro Jersey Auction

For those of you looking for your chance to bid on a certain player's jersey here are the current bids. If you want to try and top the current bid send an e-mail to Tom at remax1@telus.net
  • Kiefer Smiley: $140
  • Garrett Beckwith: $140
  • Graeme Strukoff: $130
  • Wade Bennett: $125
  • Curtis Tonello: $125
  • Eric Walker: $130
  • Steve Koshey: $200
  • Tommy Rizzardo: $150
  • Travis St. Denis: $500
  • Darnell Dyck: $125
  • Sam Mellor: $200
  • Scott Jacklin: $125
  • Matt Wilkins: $130
  • Nick Sandor: $125
  • Josh McEwan $130
  • Mike Betz: $125
  • Sean Nugent: $125
  • Justin Brown: $150
  • Thomas Abenante: $135
  • Taylor Swaffield: $125
  • Steve Oursov: $130
  • Paul Mailey: $175
  • Mitch Kaufmann: $150
The auction closes on January 30th at 6pm. All bids must include a name and phone number.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

KIJHL All-Star Game Tonight

The KIJHL is holding their All-Star game tonight at the Beaver Valley Arena in Fruitvale. I know tickets have gone fast but you should still have a chance to get in and see the game if you come out before the 7pm puck drop. It should be a great show.

There was a lot of talk at the banquet yesterday about how much this game could mean to the players involved. Often All-Star games are low on competitiveness and high on goofing around. The message at the banquet was that scouts are watching. One coach told me that one of their players got an opportunity to go to school partially because of the impression he made while participating in one of these games. Hopefully the message sunk in and we'll see a lot of fire from the players tonight.

There will be several local products on the Neil Murdoch squad. Familiar names to Smokies fans would be the likes of former Smoke Eater Scott Jago, AP Gavin Currie and Scott Morrisseau who just scored 2 goals against Trail as an AP for Merritt. One of the coaches for the Eddie Mountain team is also a familiar face as former Vernon Coach and GM Troy Mick will be behind the bench along with Princeton's Dale Hladune. Simon Wheeldon of the Nelson Leafs coaches the Neil Murdoch squad. Mountain FM will have live coverage of the game starting with our pre-game show at 6pm and play by play at 7pm. If you can't make us listen in. If you can make it you'd be doing yourself a big favour by coming down to the Beaver Valley Arena to watch the best of the best that the KIJHL has to offer and the future of the BCHL, WHL and college ranks.

All Star Game Intro

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Eddie Mountain Coach Troy Mick

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KIJHL President Bill Ohlhausen

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Beaver Valley Nitehawks Coach Terry Jones

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Video Highlights: Trail 5 Merritt 2



Stay tuned to the Smokies blog and to Mountain FM for the lates on the BCHL and KIJHL trade deadline. We'll have the latest KIJHL moves during the morning news run on Drex and Johnson's show starting at 6am. Scroll down the blog for the latest on the BCHL trade deadline. Thanks to all of you for making Sunday the busiest day this blog has ever had despite the relative lack of action.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Spruce Kings Clean House, Pickering Traded

A couple of days ago I suggested that the Prince George Spruce Kings were likely sellers at the deadline... and they were. However, what I didn't count on was how little they would actually do to help other BCHL clubs.

The Spruce Kings instead made 4 of their 5 deals with teams in the AJHL. All of the deals saw Prince George pick up future considerations in return. Next year's team could be an interesting one as a result. The only BCHL club to benefit from the Prince George house cleaning is the Surrey Eagles who add veteran defenceman Josh Pineiro. Pineiro is a very solid vet, but his production has tailed off after a start that had him on a point per game pace. He should help Surrey at both ends of the ice.

Prince George also moved Brooks Robinson back to Alberta as the son of former Caps Coach Scott Robinson is now a member of the Fort McMurray Oil Barons. Goaltender Steve Papciak also returns to the Alberta league, but this time with Canmore. As far as I can tell Papciak was the only goalie with a winning record for Prince George this season as they've kind of had a revolving door between the pipes. Talented Forward Marcus Watson's stay with PG was a short one as he is now off to join the Grande Prairie Storm.

As much as all of those guys could be key additions for the teams they find themselves with, I would say that Wes McLeod is likely the biggest fish leaving the Spruce Kings. I heard speculation all around the BCHL about who could get him. There were even people in Trail last night telling me the Smokies should go after him. Trust me when I say the price was way too high for a team with as much young talent as Trail. A lot of that talent would be in Spruce Kings colours next season if that was the move they made. There was talk that everyone from Vernon to Salmon Arm to Flin Flon wanted to take a crack at McLeod. Who won the sweepstakes? The Spruce Grove Saints.

Why is McLeod so valuable? Anyone who has seen him play doesn't need me to answer that question. He's a point per game guy from the back end who is very solid in all aspects. He played for Team Canada West and is a multiple time All-Star. He's also only 19 and as such doesn't take up a 20 year old spot. Why should we care that he's going to Spruce Grove? The Saints are the best team in Alberta and may in fact be the best team in Canada. They've only lost 3 times in regular all season. Now a team that good can add a player of McLeod's status... not paying the price to get him could end up coming back to haunt whichever team wins the BCHL championship and has to face Spruce Grove in the Doyle Cup.

It looks like (at least for now) Prince George Captain Sam Muchalla is staying put. The 1990 born forward could have fetched a huge price on the open market. However, he is a Prince George native and I bet the Spruce Kings wanted to keep him in their uniform before he heads off to school next year. The Sprucies also kept the likes of Zac Rasmussen, Joe Morgan and Brad Bourke who could have been key additions for contending clubs. While it certainly looks like Prince George is throwing in the towel on this season, they do still have some significant talent. The reason I say that is because I'm sure some fans in Trail, Merritt and Quesnel just got a little more comfortable with their playoff spot. Don't count on it yet! Ed Dempsey's club isn't going to go out without a fight. Sometimes a house cleaning of veteran talent like this can motivate guys and create an "us against the world" environment.

They've got nothing to lose so don't start making playoff reservations yet.

PICKERING A VEE

Former Smoke Eater Andrew Pickering is on the move again. After starting his career with Victoria he has now seen stops in Trail, Prince George, Merritt and now Penticton. As Brian reported over at Making Cents, Pickering apparently asked to be moved to a contender. His wish has been granted. There are few if any teams more poised to make a run for it all than the Vees.

In return the Cents will add the services of Sam Gemmell. Gemmell's stay with the Vees was a short one, but there should be an opportunity to prove himself with the Cents. The other good thing for Merritt fans is that Gemmell is only a 1990 born forward so he could return next season while Pickering is in his final year of junior.

I also heard about this deal from a couple of other sources earlier today but they were holding off reporting it until the league approved the deal. Where does Pickering fit in Penticton? I suspect there's an opportunity for him to see some offensive ice with Eric Filiou on the shelf. However, there is a lot of depth on that Vees forward group. He'll have to play and produce consistently to get the kind of ice time he's had in his previous stops. Andrew is a very skilled hockey player who sees the ice very well. It'll be interesting to see how he fits in with the Vees.

SMALL DEALS

There were a couple of other small moves. Vernon sent 19 year old defenceman Nils Erik Soderlund to Winkler of the MJHL for futures. Soderlund is a big and talented defenceman who just didn't get enough of a chance to play in Vernon. They have a deep club and Soderlund found himself in the stands more often than not. Now that he'll get a chance to play more I expect he'll turn some heads. I wouldn't be surprised if he ended up back in this league next season. Now everyone is wondering if the move clears the way for Sahir Gill to return from the USHL.

Quesnel sent Defenceman Matt Hutchinson to the OCN Blizzard of the MJHL for future considerations. He looked solid in the games I saw him in but apparently wasn't in Quesnel's plans.

Is there more to come? Probably. A lot of these deals don't get reported until a full day later sometimes. Stay tuned for more including an update on the KIJHL. Also don't forget that teams can still add "free agents" if they have available cards. This isn't over just yet.

Smokies stand pat, Renz to AV

As we approach the 8 o'clock deadline tonight I can tell you that the Trail Smoke Eaters will not be making any additional deals. They added big D Taylor Swaffield on Thursday and the rest of the team stays as is. With the season ending injury to Thomas Abenante and the addition of Steve Oursov the club will have 13 forwards and 8 defenceman on the roster. Wade Bennett of course could also count as a defenceman but we'll call him a forward given the way the numbers look right now.

Why no move? Trail can return basically their entire team for next season outside of Nick Sandor and Sean Nugent. This team now has a chance to grow together and win together. The way they've been playing lately they could really surprise some people down the stretch. Why mess with chemistry when you're young and on the upswing? This club is only going to get better game in and game out.

News throughout the league has been slow today. I know my phone has also been on the frtiz so I've had a hard time getting information.

RENZ TO ALBERNI VALLEY

One addition I do know about... the Alberni Valley Bulldogs have added 1993 born defenceman Ryan Renz from the KIJHL's Castlegar Rebels. Renz is a nearly point per game defenceman with a physical edge that has him over 100 penalty minutes. This is a guy who has had NCAA scouts on him already. I don't know what the Bulldogs plan for him this season as they contend for a championship, but he'll be a part of that franchise's young core as long as he doesn't make the leap to the WHL. The last time I talked to Renz he was undecided as to which way he'll go next season.

As for the Rebels, they added Darren Tarasoff after he was released from Williams Lake and former Rebel Brennan White is back. Tough break for Castlegar to lose one of their top young players at this stage of the season. However, they were able to get some veterans back to cover for that loss. It'll be a tight battle in the KIJHL's Neil Murdoch Division.

Other BCHL moves? I don't know yet. I do know several top teams are looking to add. Time is running out though. I've heard from a hand full of sources that the top D-man in Prince George should be on the move... but no official word yet.

I'll let you know if I hear anything else.