Sunday, February 28, 2010

YES!

Post Game 2: Westside 4 Trail 2

West Kelowna, BC - Grayson Downing scored a third period hat trick to lead the Westside Warriors to a 4-2 come from behind victory over Trail in game 2 of their first round series. The best of seven is now tied at one.

The Smoke Eaters had a 2-0 lead after 40 minutes thanks to some early goals and strong goaltending. Kiefer Smiley was the biggest reason for the lead as he stopped all 30 shots he faced in the first two periods. In the end Smiley made 40 saves in a second star performance.

Sam Mellor opened the scoring for the Smokies on a blazing wrist shot from the slot set up by Nick Sandor. Trail's top line struck again later in the frame when Scott Jacklin fired a puck that appeared to change direction past Jebson.

The Smoke Eaters hung on to their early lead despite appearing quite fatigued in the second. Westside was able to roll all four of their lines partially thanks to a second straight strong performance from the unit of Morrisson, Sissons and French. However, the Smoke Eaters were really only able to muster 3 lines.

Recent injuries to Wade Bennett, Justin Brown and Steve Oursov have kept them all out of game action while Darnell Dyck saw very limited duty after leaving game 1 in the third period. Their status for game 3 is unclear.

Westside got on the board early in the third period on a nice play by Tyler Krause down low to escape a check and feed the puck out front to Downing. Smiley got a piece of it and the puck went off the post and in to cut Trail's lead to 1.

The Warriors evened the score a few minutes later when Max French tipped in a Matthew Mather shot.

The tie seemed to put a little extra spring in Trail's steps. The tired club took some energy from seeing their lead slip away and created some very good opportunities including a 2 on 0 for Mellor and Sandor that Kevin Jebson was able to turn aside in spectacular fashion. He stopped 26 of 28 Smokies shots in the victory.

Westside got a late winner from Downing as he wrapped around from behind the net and banged in the puck after a couple of whacks at it. The 17 year old then iced the game with an empty netter.

The series turns to Trail on Monday and Tuesday with the Smoke Eaters now holding home ice advantage because of the split on the weekend. The start time for those games has been changed to 7pm.

ON THE TRAIL: Both teams were unable to score on the man advantage. Trail was 0 for 4 while Westside was 0 for 3. The Warriors are a combined 0 for 6 in the series and have only scored once on the power play against Trail in the last 5 games between the two clubs ... The game was quite similar to the second game of last year's first round series in that Trail got the early lead and held on for much of the contest thanks to strong goaltending. The Warriors won that game in overtime on a Jordan Gagne goal. The difference is that this season Trail was able to put forth a much stronger effort in game 1 and claim a split on the road ... The goaltender last year for Trail was Paul Barclay who took Beaver Valley to a game seven against Nelson in the first round of the KIJHL playoffs. The Leafs won the deciding game 3-2 tonight in what was an absolute classic battle. Congrats to both teams on their effort and to the Nitehawks on a fine season for a very young club. Perhaps Trail could get a boost from a couple of Nitehawk APs on Monday ... The Smoke Eaters are hosting a viewing party for the gold medal men's hockey game later today (Sunday) at the Cominco Arena. It'll be free to get in with the game on the big screen and the concessions open. Puck drop is 12pm.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Playoffs Game 2: Trail at Westside



Here's how the season series breaks down...

REGULAR SEASON RECORDS

Trail: 20-32-1-7 (8-8-0-4 in 2010)
Westside: 38-18-1-3 (12-7-0-2 in 2010)

POWER PLAY

Trail: 6/35 (17%)
Westside: 7/31 (23%)

TRAIL TOP SCORERS


Scott Jacklin (1-6-7)
Nick Sandor (3-3-6)
Mike Betz (2-3-5)
Sam Mellor (4-1-5)
Paul Mailey (1-3-4)
Travis St. Denis (2-2-4)
Sean Nugent (2-2-4)
Matt Wilkins (2-1-3)
Josh McEwan (0-3-3)

(These numbers are the current official numbers but corrections would likely give Mailey and St. Denis another 2 assists each from last night)

WESTSIDE TOP SCORERS

Trevor Bailey (3-4-7)
Quinn Gould (3-4-7)
Alex Grieve (1-6-7)
Cam Reid (4-2-6)
Kyle Singleton (2-4-6)
Brendan Ellis (2-4-6)
Max French (4-1-5)
Tyler Krause (3-2-5)
Grayson Downing (2-2-4)

GOALTENDERS

Kiefer Smiley (TRA) 3-3, 2.62GAA, 0.931%
Kevin Jebson (WES) 4-2, 2.45GAA, 0.920%
Cam Gorchynski (WES) 0-1, 3.01GAA, 0.909%
Garrett Beckwith (TRA) 0-0, 8.00GAA, 0.805%

ROSTER

TRAIL

WESTSIDE

BROADCAST

We'll have the game for you with Nelson Ford Trail Smoke Eaters Play by Play on Mountain FM in the West Kootenay and at http://www.mountainfm.net/

PREVIEW AUDIO

Smokies forward Matt Wilkins after Game 1

Click here to download

Post Game 1: Trail 6 Westside 3

What a game last night for the Smokies! It was a gutsy effort through 40 minutes to take a 3-2 lead into the third period. A lot of fans in the building last night talked about the impact the penalty calls had on the third... and of course any 5 on 3 or 5 minute major call is going to have some impact on a game. However, the Smokies without question earned their first playoff win under Coach Ingram. Now they at least guarantee themselves a split with a chance to go up 2-0 before even heading back to Trail.

West Kelowna, BC - Matt Wilkins opened and closed the scoring as Trail beat Westside 6-3 in the first game of their first round series. It was the first BCHL playoff game for Wilkins and his best outing as a Smoke Eater.

The Kimberley native opened the scoring after Sean Nugent won a puck battle along the wall and got it to him in the neutral zone. Wilkins wired a shot over the glove hand of Kevin Jebson to start the back and fourth scoring.

Alex Grieve answered for Westside by banking a reboud from the side of the goal off a sprawled out Kiefer Smiley. It was one of only 3 goals Smiley would allow on 36 shots in another terrific performance from the Smokies netminder.

Nick Sandor put Trail back ahead early in the second period after a Graeme Strukoff shot block turned into an odd man rush for the Smokies. Sam Mellor made a move towards the net and then put a perfect pass on Sandor's stick for the tap in.

The Warriors tied the game again at the end of a power play when Colton Sissons one-timed a nice pass from Dru Morrison. Their line along with Max French was perhaps Westside's most effective as they were dangerous every time they hit the ice.

Trail got a bounce to go their way when Paul Mailey's stick shattered on an attempted shot and he ended up putting the puck right on Travis St. Denis' stick for a power play goal. St. Denis had strong game that included hitting the post and getting robbed by Jebson on a partial break.

Mike Betz knocked his own rebound in mid-way through the third period to give Trail another power play goal and a 4-2 lead. Immediately after the goal Joel Woznikoski was called for high sticking a Smoke Eater as they tried to return to their bench. When he returned to the ice Woznikoski was immediately called for an elbow on Nick Sandor.

The major penalty gave Trail a 5 on 3 that they took advantage of with some nice passing by Steve Koshey and Scott Jacklin to set Mellor up. Woznikoski was also kicked out of the game for the elbow.

Westside gave Trail fans some anxious moments after Tyler Krause put a puck off of Koshey and in to cut the Smoke Eater lead to two. However, Wilkins was able to ice the game with an empty net goal after some good shot blocking by Trail in their own end.

The win was the first playoff victory for Trail under Coach Jim Ingram and their first at Royal Lepage Place since November 9th, 2007. Game 2 goes Saturday night in West Kelowna. The series then shifts to Trail for Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Tuesday night at 7pm.

ON THE TRAIL: Trail's forward group has been bit hard by the injury bug. They came into tonight's game with only 10 healthy forwards after injuries to Wade Bennett, Justin Brown, Steve Oursov and Thomas Abenante. Darnell Dyck also left the game and his status is questionable for Game 2 ... Trail out shot the Warriors 39-36 after putting 20 shots on net in the third period ... Sean Nugent had 2 assists and now has 11 points in his last 21 games. That compares to only 6 in the last 40 games. The veteran tough guy is thriving with added responsibility offensively ... Trail went 3 for 9 on the power play while Westside went 0 for 3 ... The Smoke Eaters are hosting an Olympic hockey gold medal game viewing party on Sunday at the Cominco Arena. It's free to get in.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Playoffs Game 1: Trail at Westside





Here's how the season series breaks down...
RECORDS

Trail: 20-32-1-7 (8-8-0-4 in 2010)
Westside: 38-18-1-3 (12-7-0-2 in 2010)

POWER PLAY

Trail: 3/26 (12%)
Westside: 7/28 (25%)

TRAIL TOP SCORERS


Scott Jacklin (1-5-6)
Nick Sandor (2-3-5)
Mike Betz (1-3-4)
Sam Mellor (3-0-3)
Paul Mailey (1-2-3)
Travis St. Denis (1-2-3)
Josh McEwan (0-3-3)
Sean Nugent (2-0-2)
Ben Matthews (1-1-2)
Wade Bennett (0-2-2)

WESTSIDE TOP SCORERS

Trevor Bailey (3-4-7)
Cam Reid (4-2-6)
Quinn Gould (3-3-6)
Alex Grieve (0-6-6)
Kyle Singleton (2-4-6)
Brendan Ellis (2-4-6)
Max French (4-0-4)
Tyler Krause (2-2-4)
Grayson Downing (2-2-4)

GOALTENDERS

Kiefer Smiley (TRA) 2-3, 2.54GAA, 0.934%
Kevin Jebson (WES) 4-1, 1.94GAA, 0.933%
Cam Gorchynski (WES) 0-1, 3.01GAA, 0.909%
Garrett Beckwith (TRA) 0-0, 8.00GAA, 0.805%

ROSTER

TRAIL

WESTSIDE

BROADCAST

We'll have the game for you with Nelson Ford Trail Smoke Eaters Play by Play on Mountain FM in the West Kootenay and at http://www.mountainfm.net/

PREVIEW AUDIO

Coach Jim Ingram on the series

Click here to download

2010 Improvement



I've talked some on our broadcasts and on Overtime about the improvements Trail has made since the start of 2010. I figured I'd put my money where my mouth is and actually spell out the difference in the Smokies using stats for the final 20 games of the season. Another impressive aspect of the improvement is that they only played 3 teams with losing records in their last 20.

Record in 2009: 12-24-1-3
Record in 2010: 8-8-0-4

Obviously the most important stat which shows they've found a way to win or at least get the extra point for an overtime loss in 12 of their last 20 games.

Goals in 2009: 144 (3.6 per game)
Goals in 2010: 72 (3.6 per game)

Goals Against in 2009: 188 (4.7 per game)
Goals Against in 2010: 83 (4.15 per game)

While goal scoring is static, the biggest difference between Trail now and Trail earlier in the season is their ability to keep the puck out of their net. The improvement is especially solid given the 8 goals allowed in a game against Salmon Arm and 7 in one of the games with Westside.

Power Play in 2009: 35 for 165 (21%)
Power Play in 2010: 15 for 88 (17%)

Penalty Kill in 2009: 126 for 174 (72%)
Penalty Kill in 2010: 79 for 106 (75%)

The power play has been struggling of late and you can see it has dipped some in 2010. However, the penalty kill has made some strides. They're miles better at home on the PK than on the road for whatever reason.

PLAYER STATS IN 2010
  • Jacklin: 23
  • Sandor: 22
  • Mellor: 22
  • Betz: 17
  • Mailey: 15
  • Wilkins: 9
  • Bennett: 9
  • Tonello: 9
  • Nugent: 9
  • Oursov: 9
  • Brown: 8 (9 games)
  • St. Denis: 8 (11 games)
  • Koshey: 7
  • Matthews: 6
  • Kaufmann: 4 (3 games)
  • Dyck: 4
  • Walker: 4
  • McEwan: 4
  • Rizzardo: 3
  • Strukoff: 2 (9 games)
  • Swaffield: 2
GOALTENDERS
  • Kiefer Smiley: 6-4-0-3, 3.29GAA, 0.909%
  • Garrett Beckwith: 2-4-0-1, 4.89GAA, 0.864%

Awards Audio, KIJHL Playoffs



Scott Jacklin and Eric Walker

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Paul Mailey

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Again it was a great night and you can watch out for a segment on the awards night and the playoffs coming up on Shaw TV this weekend.

KIJHL PLAYOFFS

I took in the Nelson/Beaver Valley game tonight. Unfortunately there was very little even strength play in the third period, but it was a very gutsy effort from the Nitehawks. I was really impressed by how Scott Morrisseau battled when I've heard he's really hurting out there... yet there he was throwing his body in front of shots late in the game. The Nitehawks didn't create much offensively once they got their lead, but they paid the physical price to keep it. They also had terrific goaltending from former Smoke Eater Paul Barclay.

As for Nelson, their skill level is again incredible for a KIJHL team. However, in this game some of their guys didn't seem willing enough to go to the dirty areas. The Leafs had a chance to move on to the second round tonight but instead allowed the Nitehawks to grab new life. Beaver Valley was just the more desperate team out there. That means a dramatic Game 6 in Fruitvale on Friday night. I know both coaches have been to the dance before and will have their guys ready. There are a ton of big playoff wins between Terry Jones and Simon Wheeldon. It's been a terrific series so far from what I've seen online and in person. Game 6 will be a battle.

Meanwhile, the Castlegar/Spokane series has completely turned. The Rebels were up 2-0 after the first two games at home, but Spokane has now rattled off three straight wins to take command. Now the Rebels are going to have to head back down to Spokane and steal a game there to stay alive. Again check out Chris' blog for more details.

If you're a local hockey fan my advice is to go check out the KIJHL game with your radio so you can listen to the Trail game and get Olympic updates at the same time.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

2009-2010 Trail Smoke Eaters Awards

The Smoke Eaters handed out their regular season awards tonight in front of a packed house at the Riverbelle in Trail. I was impressed by how many people turned out to celebrate the boys on the same day as the big Canada/Russia match up.

I know having the game on Mountain FM tonight sure saved me as I was able to listen to it while making the drive in from Castlegar. What a game it was too! I hope the fans will be dedicated enough to join us on Mountain FM for the first game of the playoffs during the big Olympic semi-final between Canada and Slovakia on Friday night. I say watch the Olympic game on TV while listening to the Smokies on the radio. It's a can't miss prospect.

As for the awards, I loved the new style trophies the boys got. Very classy. In addition each player received a framed photo and CD full of their pictures from Randy Emery. It's amazing how much work he puts into that every year. The Smoke Eaters are very lucky to have him as such a dedicated fan and volunteer. The club also recognized their departing 20 year old players Sean Nugent, Nick Sandor and Taylor Swaffield with a team watch. That will be one way for them to remember the motto that, "When you play for the Smoke Eaters you are a Smoke Eater for life."

Here is a list of the award recipients:
  • Most Valuable Player: Scott Jacklin
  • Top Scorer: Scott Jacklin
  • Top Defenceman: Eric Walker and Steve Koshey
  • Rookie of the Year: Sam Mellor
  • Most Improved Player: Wade Bennett
  • Fan Favourite: Graeme Strukoff
  • Most Dedicated Player: Sean Nugent
  • Most Inspirational Player: Josh McEwan
  • Ed Shelley Memorial Award: Paul Mailey
  • Randy Emery's "Ultimate Warrior" Award: Scott Jacklin
I don't really have a ton to add to the list of winners. Jacklin has clearly proven he is among the better all around players in the league. There aren't too many people questioning the deadline deal to get him now. Plus how can you argue with a mullet like that? Of course it's difficult in some ways to recognize one member of that line without recognizing all of them. Jacklin, Sandor and Mellor have played together most of the season with very consistent success. As much as they need to get scoring from everyone to win, the Smoke Eaters will need that line to lead the way against the Warriors.

Congrats to all the very deserving winners for their regular season success. Now we can put that behind us and turn our attention to the playoffs. After an early exit at the hands of the Westside Warriors last season... the Smoke Eaters have some revenge on their mind! Join us on Mountain FM for Games 1 and 2 from West Kelowna. The scene will then shift to the Cominco Arena for Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Tuesday in Trail. Don't forget the 7pm start time for those games.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bennett beats Mellor for rookie award

Not a huge surprise today as Beau Bennett won the BCHL Interior Conference Rookie of the Year Award. Smokies forward Sam Mellor had a fantastic season and earned his nomination for the award. However, Bennett won the league scoring crown with 120 points. It's pretty hard for any other rookie to compete with that!

I am intrigued that the official award winner list has Bennett listed in a tie with Salmon Arm forward Mark Zengerle for the league's top scorer. While they both finished with 120 points, traditionally the player with the most goals is given the edge. Older hockey fans will remember that's what happened when Marcel Dionne beat Wayne Gretzky for the Art Ross Trophy back in 1979-80. Both players had terrific seasons so I don't really have an issue with them calling it a tie. I just wonder if that's the usual protocol.

I actually found the amount of ties in the awards this year quite annoying. What is this t-ball? We don't have to make everyone happy! Voters were too wishy washy this time around. Honestly though, what a regular season it was. We saw some incredible point totals including 3 guys with over 100 points and a 60 goal scorer. Every nominee and winner deserves the recognition they got... even if Todd Miller CLEARLY paid someone off to get the broadcaster of the year award. I'm on to you, Todd! We all know how Vernon likes to grease the wheel. That's what the internet tells me anyway... Congrats to Todd who is super talented and a class act. Plus somebody had to take that award from Hammer this year because we all saw how big his ego got last time!

Of note for the upcoming Westside/Trail playoff series, Warriors defenceman Brendan Ellis was named the top defenceman in the Interior. What is it with the Warriors and top d-men? That's three straight years the winner of that award has played for Westside. He'll be a key guy for the Warriors against Trail starting on Friday night on Mountain FM.

Don't forget Trail's home games next Monday and Tuesday will start at 7pm rather than the usual 7:30. That should make it a little more family friendly. As for awards, tonight is the Smoke Eaters Awards Banquet at the Riverbell. It'll be interesting and hopefully as usual a good time... even if we're starting during the Canada/Russia game!

Again click here for the official list of award winners.

KIJHL PLAYOFFS

Just a couple of notes from the KIJHL playoffs. Beaver Valley had a 4-2 lead after the second but fell 6-4 last night to Nelson. The Leafs now lead that first round series 3 games to 1. Castlegar lost 4-3 in Spokane last night and the Braves have now drawn even. Game 5 is tomorrow in Castlegar and Nelson.

Mellor and Ingram talk nomination


Sam Mellor on the rookie of the year nomination

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Smokies Coach Jim Ingram on Mellor

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

KIJHL Playoffs Tonight



Local hockey fans looking for a fix tonight can check out game 4 of the Nelson vs. Beaver Valley KIJHL first round playoff series. The Leafs lead the Hawks 2 games to 1 after a 3-1 victory last night in Fruitvale. Former Smoke Eater Paul Barclay is the Nitehawks goaltender while another former Smoke Eater Scott Jago plays for the Leafs. I had a chance to chat with staff from both clubs leading into tonight's game at 7pm in Fruitvale.

Beaver Valley General Manager Jamie Friess

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Nelson Coach and GM Simon Wheeldon

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As for the other local series, Castlegar is up 2 games to 1 on Spokane after the Braves shut the Rebels out 2-0 last night. For more on the Rebels check out my Mountain FM colleague Chris Wahl's blog as he has game recaps, previews, audio and more. Chris has also started doing webcasts for the Rebels. Nice to see them get into that game as the other local clubs have been doing a fine job of it already. Also this evening don't forget Canada against Germany in Olympic hockey action starting with the pre-game show at 4pm on Mountain FM.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sam Mellor gets rookie nod, Monday Audio, KIJHL Playoffs

Congratulations to Smoke Eaters forward Sam Mellor. He was nominated today for the Interior Conference rookie of the year award. It's a well deserved honour after Mellor put up 28 goals and 35 points for 63 points as a 17 year old.

Mellor's totals were good enough for 27th in the BCHL and third among 1992 born players. The former Dynamiter in the KIJHL made a very quick transition to the Junior A level. While playing the whole season with Scott Jacklin and most of it with Nick Sandor he was able to actually improve on his Junior B scoring pace. I think it also helped that Jacklin and Matt Wilkins grew up with Mellor. The Kimberley Konnection all thrived this season while playing on the same team. I'm sure it's fun to get to play with your friends.

He faces some stiff competition for the rookie of the year nod. The other nominees are league scoring champion Beau Bennett and top scoring defenceman Joey Laleggia. All three players are certainly very deserving of the recognition.

Speaking of awards, the Trail Smoke Eaters will be handing out their year end awards this Wednesday night. Who will be this year's MVP? Should be a fun night and a good way to celebrate before the team sets out for West Kelowna and the playoffs on Friday.

MONDAY AUDIO

Was there a game last night? The team is looking to put the stinker in Penticton behind them as they prepare for the Warriors. The Smokies looked like a team that didn't have anything to play for in a 7-3 loss to the Vees. That being said, they didn't have anything to play for. The game didn't have any impact on the standings. Congrats to the Vees who were able to achieve a franchise record 100 points and to Beau Bennett for scoring the 4 points he needed to secure a BCHL scoring crown. They're an impressive team. It'd be nice to see them again as the only way that could happen is by meeting them in the conference finals...

Smokies Assistant Coach Barry Zanier on the Penticton game

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Nelson Ford Trail Smoke Eaters Hockey: Trail 6 Merritt 3

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KIJHL PLAYOFFS

An interesting start to local KIJHL playoff action this week. Former Smoke Eaters are doing battle as Paul Barclay and the Beaver Valley Nitehawks take on Scott Jago and the Nelson Leafs. Barclay has had a starring role so far as the Hawks earned a split in Nelson. The Leafs won Game 1 by a 4-3 score in overtime while BV took Game 2 thanks to Colton Donselaar's winner late in the third period. Game 3 of the series is tonight in Beaver Valley and you should do yourself a favour and check it out.

The other local series has Castlegar up 2-0 on Spokane with hopes of taking total control of that series tonight across the line. The Rebels have been very impressive thus far, but Spokane is a tough place to play.

Nelson Leafs Coach Simon Wheeldon

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Beaver Valley Nitehawks forward Colton Donselaar

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Game Day: Trail at Penticton


September 23: Trail 3 at Penticton 5
October 2: Trail 2 at Penticton 8
November 29: Penticton 4 at Trail 2
January 5: Penticton 4 at Trail 5 (OT)
February 9: Penticton 6 at Trail 5 (OT)

POWER PLAY

Trail: 2/15 (13%)
Penticton: 8/26 (31%)

TRAIL TOP SCORERS

1. F Scott Jacklin (4-3-7)
1. F Nick Sandor (4-3-7)
1. F Sam Mellor (0-7-7)
4. F Travis St. Denis (2-3-5)

PENTICTON TOP SCORERS

1. F Beau Bennett (5-6-11)
2. F Denver Manderson (2-6-8)
3. F Ryan Viselli (2-4-6)
4. F Alex Szczechura (2-3-5)
4. F Logan Johnston (2-3-5)
4. F Garrett Milan (4-1-5)
4. D Joey Laleggia (1-3-5)

GOALTENDERS

1. Joel Rumpel (PEN) 3-0, 2.33GAA, 0.914%
2. Kiefer Smiley (TRA) 1-3, 5.28GAA, 0.860%
3. Garrett Beckwith (TRA) 0-1, 5.00GAA, 0.848%
4. Sean Bonar (PEN) 1-1, 6.58GAA, 0.831%

ROSTER

Trail

Penticton

BROADCAST

Nelson Ford Trail Smoke Eaters Play by Play is live on Mountain FM starting after the Canada/USA game at around 6:45pm with our City of Trail Pre-Game Show. Don't forget we'll also have radio coverage of that Olympic hockey game starting at 4pm. You can join us at 104.1FM in Trail and online at www.mountainfm.net

Post Game: Trail 6 Merritt 3

Merritt, BC - Nick Sandor's back to back goals late in the third period put Trail ahead for good in a 6-3 win over Merritt. The goals gave Sandor 30 on the season and set up the Smokies for a first round series with Westside.

Trail got up 2-0 in the first on goals by Ben Matthews and Scott Jacklin. Alex Valenti responded and cut Trail's lead in half.

Neither team was able to find the net in the second period despite both Curtis Tonello and Nick Sandor hitting the post.

The Smokies extended their lead early in the third period on the Sean Nugent power play goal. He banged in the rebound of a Matthews shot for the only PP marker in the game. Trail went 1 for 5 on the man advantage and killed off all 7 Centennial opportunities.

Matt Wilkins hit another post for Trail before Merritt quickly answered with goals by Soquilla and MacMillan to tie the game at 3 with half a period to play.

Both teams had their opportunities to take a late lead before Sandor's goal gave Trail a 4-3 lead. He followed it up with an empty net marker for his 30th of the year. Jacklin also scored his second of the game into an empty net.

Kiefer Smiley stopped 44 of the 47 shots he faced for the win while Hamilton made 35 saves for Merritt. Matthews added 2 assists to his goal while Paul Mailey chipped in 3 helpers.

The Trail win combined with Quesnel's victory over Williams Lake settled the playoff picture in the Interior. The Millionaires will take on Salmon Arm, Trail plays Westside and Merritt matches up with Penticton.

ON THE TRAIL: Justin Borwn, Steve Oursov, Thomas Abenante and Mitch Kaufmann all missed the game due to injury. Oursov is out for the rest of the season. Tommy Rizzardo played his second straight game as a forward ... Mellor, Strukoff and Tonello also had assists for the Smokies ... The win was Trail's second straight against Merritt after losing the first 5 games in the season series ... The next action for Trail is Sunday night in Penticton. The game won't have any impact on the standings but it is important for Smokies forward Wade Bennett's brother Beau. The Vees sniper is 4 points behind Salmon Arm forward Mark Zengerle for top spot in the BCHL scoring race ... In the KIJHL playoffs on Saturday night the Beaver Valley Nitehawls got 29 saves from former Smoke Eater Paul Barclay in a 3-1 win over Nelson. Castlegar beat Spokane 8-4. The Rebels lead that series 2-0 while the Nitehawks and Leafs are tied at 1 game each.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Game Day: Trail at Merritt



September 11: Trail 2 at Merritt 4
October 6: Trail 3 at Merritt 8
October 24: Trail 5 at Merritt 8
December 11: Merritt 3 at Trail 2
December 30: Merritt 4 at Trail 3 (OT)
January 9: Merritt 2 at Trail 5

POWER PLAY

Trail: 3/25 (12%)
Merritt: 5/20 (20%)

TRAIL TOP SCORERS

1. F Scott Jacklin (3-7-10)
2. F Sam Mellor (5-3-8)
3. F Nick Sandor (1-6-7)

MERRITT TOP SCORERS

1. F Derek Hills (5-6-11)
2. F Duston Johnson (5-5-10)
3. F Jeff Jones (3-5-8)

GOALTENDERS

1. Keith Hamilton (MER) 4-1
2. Kiefer Smiley (TRA) 1-3
3. Garrett Beckwith (TRA) 0-2

ROSTER

Trail

Merritt

BROADCAST

Nelson Ford Trail Smoke Eaters Play by Play is live on Mountain FM starting at 7:15 with our City of Trail Pre-Game Show. You can join us at 104.1FM in Trail and online at www.mountainfm.net

Friday, February 19, 2010

Gordie Robertson Day, Friday Audio

I had a chance to chat with Trail hockey legend Gordie Robertson this afternoon. The former Smoke Eater and gold medalist at the 1952 Olympics got a pretty special honour in Vancouver yesterday. The city officially marked "Gordie Robertson Day" as the colourful hockey hero got a chance to take in the Canada vs. Switzerland men's hockey game live.

The tickets came as a result of a total stranger who heard that Robertson felt slighted when he wasn't offered tickets or a chance to carry the torch. Both slights were rectified. You heard about it on Mountain FM and there's also a good article in The Province that spells it all out. It was a very kind gesture by Coquitlam resident Ed Rogers to invite Robertson to the game as his guest.

One interesting note from the night was that during an interview with him in the intermission he got a big ovation when they mentioned that Gordie had played for the Trail Smoke Eaters. That name still carries a lot of weight!

Robertson wasn't just a participant with the Edmonton based club that won gold for Canada in 1952. He scored 4 goals in 8 games and was a major contributor to the cause. If you want to learn more about Gordie you can check out this sports reference article or check out the article at the Trail Historical Society's website.

I've had the honour of chatting with Gordie a few times on Mountain FM's Overtime. He's always honest and entertaining. Here is a chat I had with him today on his experience at the Olympics and the honour bestowed upon him by Vancouver...

Gordie Robertson on Mountain FM's Overtime

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I guess the last question is whether or not Robertson will get a chance to attend the gold medal game. I hope Canada makes it to the game and Gordie is there to see it.

FRIDAY AUDIO

Smokies President Tom Gawryletz tonight's "Fan Appreciation Night"

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Nelson Ford Smokies Play by Play on Mountain FM: Westside 2 Trail 1 (OT)

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Smokies Assistant Coach Brian Youngson after the Westside OT loss

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Castlegar Rebels MVP Ryan Aynsley (former Merritt Centennial)

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fan Appreciation Night on Friday

The Trail Smoke Eaters are holding a fan appreciation night tomorrow against the Surrey Eagles. It's the final regular season home game for this year's Smokies and an opportunity to give as many fans as possible a good luck at the surging club. Tickets are only $5 each and any season ticket holders with extra tickets can give them to friends. There will be deals at the Sud Shack and all sorts of prizes to be won. It's also time for another early bird draw in the Smokies Truck Raffle so make sure you get your tickets.

The Smoke Eaters have points in their last 6 games and have an 8-6-0-3 record in 2010. If you gave up on the team in the fall now is a good time to give them a second chance. Some additional support tomorrow night could go a long way towards helping Trail push past Quesnel and Merritt for 5th place in the Interior.

Trail will also be forced to watch the out of town scoreboard over the final weekend as they try to secure 5th place. They're right now tied with Merritt and Quesnel. The Cents only have one game left (Saturday against the Smokies) while the Millionaires play twice more (Williams Lake and Burnaby) against some weaker clubs. The Smokies would lose a tie breaker against either team due to winning percentage.

All of that being said it's still in Trail's hands. If they can get at least 5 points in their 3 games they guarantee themselves 5th place. They didn't wait for anyone else to get them into the playoffs and they won't be able to wait around for someone else to hand them a higher seed. It's theirs for the taking.

NOTES

...Tomorrow is also the opening of the KIJHL playoffs. Check out Chris Wahl's blog for a look at the two local series. There are a bunch of Smokies APs involved in the Nelson/Beaver Valley series. Philip Patenaude, Gavin Currie, Bennett Hambrook, Taylor O'Neil and Michael Spring play for the Leafs. Colton Semenok and Layne Stopanski play for the Nitehawks. Beaver Valley was also a temporary home for Steve Oursov this season when he started off as an AP for Trail and played a couple of games for the Hawks.

Both clubs have graduated a number of players to the Smokies that will I'm sure be picking sides. Garrett Beckwith and Tommy Rizzardo are former Leafs while Justin Brown, Steve Koshey and Thomas Abenante are former Nitehawks.

The other local series sees the Castlegar Rebels matching up with the Spokane Braves. The Rebels feature former Williams Lake Timberwolves Keagan Little and Darren Tarasoff. Their MVP this season was former Merritt Centennial Ryan Aynsley. He finished second in KIJHL scoring behind Scott Morisseau of the Nitehawks.

Josh McEwan and Brian Youngson's old club the Fernie Ghostriders started their playoffs already with a win in Golden. Matt Wilkins and Sam Mellor's old team the Kimberley Dynamiters will start the first round tomorrow in Creston. Michael Betz's old team from Sicamous hosts the Penticton Lakers.

...A lot of people write off the underdogs as we head towards the first round of the playoffs. Tonight's game between Canada and the Swiss is a great example of why you can never count any team out. Some hot goaltending and tremendous work ethic took a highly over matched Swiss club to within a shoot out of getting a win against Canada. Watching the game you could see that the Swiss club did it by outworking their opponents and sticking to a very simple game. I think some Canadian fans are getting a little too worried though. It's just one game! A little adversity early can be good in a small tournament like this.

...Don't forget the Smokies will be handing out their year end awards next Wednesday. There are a couple awards with obvious choices. However, most of them should be pretty tough decisions for the coaching staff. There are still a few tickets left. Contact Tom at Re/Max or see him at the souvenir stand tomorrow night if you're interested.

Post Game: Westside 2 Trail 1 (OT)

Sorry for the delay. We got back at 4am last night after a very long day. Don't forget to join us for fan appreciation night on Friday at the Cominco Arena. It's a huge game against the Surrey Eagles with playoff positioning on the line. The guys have been playing tremendous hockey so I hope you'll come out and support them.

West Kelowna, BC - Cam Reid scored his second of the game in double overtime to give Westside a 2-1 victory over Trail. on Tuesday night With the win the Warriors avoided losing a third straight game against a streaking Smokies club.

Kiefer Smiley was again spectacular for Trail as he stopped 38 of 40 shots he faced to earn first star honours. Smiley turned aside 99 of the 102 shots he faced in 3 games against the Warriors over 5 days.

Trail opened the scoring when Sam Mellor tipped in a Steve Koshey point shot for his 27th of the season. Mellor scored in all 3 recent games against the Warriors.

Reid struck back a few minutes later on the power play. Trevor Bailey set him up on a nice slap pass to the side of the goal. It was Bailey's return to the line-up after he sat out the weekend games.

The Smokies were able to kill off the other 6 Westside power plays including 2 in the third period and a 4 on 3 man advantage on the first overtime. Trail's much maligned PK held the Warriors PP to a single goal over the 3 game span.

Kevin Jebson stopped 28 of the 29 Smokies shots. The 20 year old has only lost twice against the Smoke Eaters in his two seasons with the Warriors.

The Smoke Eaters have earned points in their last 6 games, but lost all 3 times they went to overtime.

ON THE TRAIL: Trail has the same line-up as they played with for both weekend games. There is no further update on Mitch Kaufmann's injury. Thomas Abenante is out of his cast and appears to be recovering quicker than expected ... Trail finished with 2 wins and an OT loss in 6 games against Westside this season. That's an improvement over just 1 victory in 11 games last season ... The win puts Trail's record at 8-6-0-3 in 2010 ... The next action for the Smokies is Friday night at home against Surrey. They'll finish the season on the road in Merritt on Saturday and Penticton on Sunday. Those games will determine the first round opponent. At this stage it will be either Penticton, Westside or Salmon Arm.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Video Highlights: Trail 4 Westside 1

Tuesday Game Day: Trail at Westside



It's the final game of the season series between the two clubs and could be a factor in creating a re-match of last year's first round playoff series. If Trail gets a couple of more points and finishes 6th they'll play the Warriors. However, a win here could also propel them into a run that leaves them in 5th place and sets up a series with Salmon Arm. A loss could be a step towards finishing 7th and a series with Penticton. This could still go several ways.

I've read some talk on the internet about how the Warriors were using the weekend games to give their 3rd and 4th line guys some ice time. I don't think anyone who was at the games would question the level of Westside's competitive spirit or make that kind of comment about ice time. I didn't notice anything different about their ice distribution outside of injuries messing with the usual mix. This team was competing hard... they just got beat. I think it's fair to say Trail had more to play for and perhaps that gave them an emotional edge. That doesn't mean the Warriors handed those games over.

The bigger issue is not how hard the Warriors compete so much as how much did they miss Trevor Bailey. I don't know if he'll be back in the line-up for this game. If he is maybe we'll see if Bailey was the x-factor. Either way, the Smoke Eaters deserve credit for their wins now just as Westside did for their wins in the first three games of the season series. Now we'll see if Trail can take the kind of game they played at the Cominco Arena on the road. That'll be key if they're going to make some playoff noise. Here's how the season series breaks down...
RECORDS

Trail: 19-30-1-6 (7-6-0-3 in 2010)
Westside: 35-17-1-2 (9-6-0-1 in 2010)

Just interesting to note how Trail and Westside have both earned points in 10 of 16 games since the new year. If the season had started in January the Smokies would only be 2 points behind the Warriors in the standings. It's a smaller sample size, but it does show that Trail's young roster has made some big strides. Especially when you realize that 5/6 of Trail's regulation losses were during a streak where 6 regulars were hurt. These guys are a serious threat to good teams. At least they unquestionably are in their own building. They still need to prove they can get it done when jumping onto the bus.


POWER PLAY

Trail: 3/21 (14%)
Westside: 6/21 (29%)

TRAIL TOP SCORERS


Nick Sandor (2-3-5)
Scott Jacklin (1-4-5)
Mike Betz (1-3-4)
Paul Mailey (1-2-3)
Travis St. Denis (1-2-3)
Josh McEwan (0-3-3)

WESTSIDE TOP SCORERS

Trevor Bailey (3-3-6)
Quinn Gould (3-3-6)
Alex Grieve (0-6-6)
Kyle Singleton (2-4-6)
Brendan Ellis (2-3-5)
Max French (4-0-4)
Cam Reid (2-2-4)
Tyler Krause (2-2-4)
Grayson Downing (2-2-4)

GOALTENDERS

Kiefer Smiley (TRA) 2-2, 2.75GAA, 0.929%
Kevin Jebson (WES) 3-1, 3.01GAA, 0.924%
Cam Gorchynski (WES) 0-1, 3.01GAA, 0.909%
Garrett Beckwith (TRA) 0-0, 8.00GAA, 0.805%

ROSTER

TRAIL

WESTSIDE

BROADCAST

We'll have the game for you with Nelson Ford Trail Smoke Eaters Play by Play on Mountain FM in the West Kootenay and at www.mountainfm.net

Monday, February 15, 2010

Smokies clinch playoff spot

With Penticton's win over Prince George the Smokies have locked up a playoff spot. Congrats to the guys who earned their way in with excellent efforts against some of the BCHL's top teams. I'm on a two day break but just wanted to pass that word on. Well done! Used an iPod touch so that's why the entry is so brief... but these things are very cool.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Post Game: Trail 4 Westside 1

Trail, BC - Kiefer Smiley made 37 saves as Trail beat Westside 4-1 on Saturday night. Smiley won't get credit for a shut out, but he stopped 61 of 62 shots he faced in 5 periods of work this weekend.

The Smokies swept the back to back home games against Westside. The two teams will play again on Tuesday in West Kelowna.

Sean Nugent and Sam Mellor opened the scoring for the Smokies with 2 goals in 32 seconds. Both men scored on Friday as well.

Nobody could find the back of the net in the second period despite the teams combining for 21 shots. Smiley and Westside goaltender Cam Gorchynski made sure both sides were still in it heading into the third.

Curtis Tonello gave his team some insurance with his first goal a Smoke Eater. Tonello has 12 points through 22 games in Trail, while he only had 5 in 24 games with the Bulldogs.

Kyle Singleton spoiled Smiley's shut out with a rebound goal mid-way through the thrid period. The Smokies netminder then had to come up with a couple of huge stops in the final 10 minutes to preserve the victory.

Nick Sandor scored his team leading 28th of the season into an empty net to secure the victory.

Scott Jacklin and Josh McEwan both has 2 assists for Trail. Wade Bennett was only credited with a single assist but made key plays leading to both the Nugent and Tonello goals.

Both teams had trouble on the power play over the weekend. They went a combined 0 for 14 on Friday and Saturday.

ON THE TRAIL: Mitch Kaufmann and Thomas Abenante are still out with injuries. Tom Rizzardo and Matt Wilkins were healthy scratches for the Smokies ... The Warriors were missing Trevor Bailey, Jason Nash, Max French, Michael Quinn and Izaak Berglund. Gus Correale and Brayden Sherbinin of the KIJHL's Nelson Leafs played as APs for Westside ... Westside now only leads the season series 3-2 with a sixth game coming up on Tuesday in West Kelowna ... Trail has points in all of their 5 games despite playing some of the top teams in the BCHL over that stretch. They're 7-6-0-3 in 2010 and have only played 2 teams bellow .500 over that span ... The win puts Trail 8 points ahead of Prince George for the final playoff spot in the Interior. The worst case scenario for the Smokies at this point is a tie for 7th with the Spruce Kings. However, they are now a point ahead of Merritt for 6th and a point behind Quesnel for 5th.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Video Highlights: Trail 4 Westside 2

vi

Saturday Game Day: Westside at Trail



Here's how the season series breaks down...
RECORDS

Trail: 18-30-1-6 (6-6-0-3 in 2010)
Westside: 35-16-1-2 (9-5-0-1 in 2010)

POWER PLAY

Trail: 3/18 (17%)
Westside: 6/17 (35%)

TRAIL TOP SCORERS


Mike Betz (1-3-4)
Nick Sandor (1-3-4)
Paul Mailey (1-2-3)
Scott Jacklin (1-2-3)
Travis St. Denis (1-2-3)

WESTSIDE TOP SCORERS

Trevor Bailey (3-3-6)
Quinn Gould (3-3-6)
Alex Grieve (0-6-6)
Kyle Singleton (1-4-5)
Max French (4-0-4)
Cam Reid (2-2-4)
Brendan Ellis (2-2-4)
Tyler Krause (2-2-4)
Grayson Downing (2-2-4)

GOALTENDERS

Kevin Jebson (WES) 3-1, 3.01GAA, 0.924%
Kiefer Smiley (TRA) 1-2, 3.41GAA, 0.893%
Garrett Beckwith (TRA) 0-0, 8.00GAA, 0.805%

ROSTER

TRAIL

WESTSIDE

BROADCAST

No home radio broadcast but the game is available on BCHL PPV.

Post Game: Trail 4 Westside 2

NOTE: St. Denis has now been given credit for Trail's first goal. He tipped in the shot by Betz. Betz also has been credited with an assist on Brown's goal.

Trail, BC - Sean Nugent and Justin Brown broke a third period tie to lead the Smoke Eaters to their first win over Westside in a year and a half. The 4-2 victory gives Trail a 6 point cushion on Prince George for the Interior's final playoff spot.

Kiefer Smiley stopped all 24 shots he faced after relieving Garrett Beckwith in Trail's net at the start of the second period. The Smoke Eaters now have a win or an overtime loss in all of their last four games.

Trail opened the scoring when Mike Betz fired it through a crowd just seconds after the Smokies power play expired. Sam Mellor also scored for the orange and black in the first on a terrific feed from Scott Jacklin.

Kyle Singleton and Max French responded for the Warriors who twice came back from one goal deficits.

Both teams played a gritty and simple game throughout the final 40 minutes. It looked like neither side would find a way to break the deadlock until Josh McEwan stole a Kevin Jebson clearing attempt and set up Nugent for the winner.

Brown capped off a nice Steve Oursov rush by knocking his own rebound out of mid-air to put the game out of reach.

After getting out scored 3-0 on special teams against Penticton, the Smokies held the Westside power play off the score sheet on Friday night. The game also had a decidedly physical side and that intensity may boil over when they face off again on Saturday night at the Cominco Arenea.

ON THE TRAIL:
Travis St. Denis looked solid in his return to Trail's line-up. The Smokies are still missing Mitch Kaufmann and Thomas Abenante to injury. Only Kaufmann is expected to return before the end of the season ... With 2 assists Nick Sandor was the only Smoke Eater with multiple points in the game ... Jebson stopped 25 of the 29 shots Trail fired at him. It was his first loss against Trail this season and only the second time the Smoke Eaters have topped him in his Warriors career ... Westside played the game without leading scorer Trevor Bailey. The 40 goal scorer is expected back in time for the playoffs.