The Trail Smoke Eaters have made their first addition of the off season. 1992 born forward Dylan Tappe committed to the Smokies earlier this week.
The Spokane native played the past two seasons with his home town Braves in the KIJHL. He scored 46 goals and 103 points over 96 games playing against men as a 16 and 17 year old. For comparison his 16 year old numbers are actually 10 points ahead of what Smokies rookie of the year Sam Mellor was able to score in that same season when playing for Kimberley. It's impossible to know if he can thrive when jumping to Junior A hockey the way that Mellor did, but it's a nice place to start. Tappe's performance last season would have been enough in my view to get him into the BCHL if he were not restricted (as a US born player) from making the leap until his 18 year old season.
Dylan also took his goal scoring up a notch in his 17 year old season. He went from scoring 0.38 goals per game to 0.59 -- a very solid leap. Tappe was named to the Neil Murdoch roster at the KIJHL All-Star game and was second on the Braves in point production. Dylan was also a significant part of Spokane's strong playoff performance this season. They knocked favoured Castlegar out in 6 games and took the heavily favoured Nelson Leafs to a 7th game. Tappe scored a cold blooded hat trick in game 5 of the Rebels series in Castlegar that set his team up for a series win on home ice.
However, for a player that is known for his offensive attributes he also talks a lot about his willingness to play gritty and go to the dirty areas. Tappe told me he loves to back check, block shots and feels he can play a complete game in the BCHL.
So why Trail? Jim Ingram drove down to Spokane earlier this week to get to know Tappe and his family. Trail's coach was very impressed with the character of the whole Tappe crew and made his pitch. In addition to the opportunity the Smokies provide, I do think it helps that Trail is the closest BCHL team to Dylan's home in Spokane. It also helps that Tappe grew up playing with and against the likes of Sam Mellor, Travis St. Denis and Mike Betz. As any coach will tell you, the players can often be your best recruiters.
I had a chance to catch up with both Tappe and Ingram on Mountain FM's Overtime this week.
New Smoke Eater Dylan Tappe
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Smokies Coach Jim Ingram on Tappe
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I'm looking forward to seeing what Dylan has to offer the Smokies. In my time watching and covering the KIJHL I thought he was one of the best prospects out of that league. It's a nice catch for the Smokies. We can also get a look at some more future Smokies with the Spring Camp coming up on the first weekend of April in Trail.
Wild game in the KIJHL finals tonight as Revelstoke beat Nelson 4-3 to earn that big road split. The Leafs got up 2-0 on power play goals by Patenaude and Currie, but let that lead slip away. Revelstoke's 2 goals in 25 seconds at the end of the first totally changed the momentum of the game in their favour.
The Grizz ended up picking up a 2 goal lead in the second and then tightening up with a wall around their goal in the third. Nelson fired 11 shots on the Revelstoke net in the final frame (not including the many pucks chipped wide) and couldn't beat goaltender Andrew Parent until the final second of the game. Too little too late.
Revelstoke Coach Troy Mick told me after the game that his team played a "dirtier" game. By that he meant going to the tough areas to score in far greater numbers. They were rewarded. The Leafs certainly had moments in the game where they out played Revelstoke (shots were 38-21 Nelson) but key mental errors at the wrong time hurt them. The message from Coach Simon Wheeldon after the game was that they need to simplify things again when the teams hook up again for game 3 in Revelstoke.
Tune in to Mountain FM's Overtime tomorrow night for audio reaction to game 2 and stay tuned to us for play by play of games 3 and 4 on Wednesday and Thursday. Thanks to Nelson Ford (sponsors of the Trail broadcasts this year) for backing us for our continued coverage of the Leafs run for a second straight KIJHL crown.
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