A couple pieces of Smokies news to report today. First of all I'm disappointed to report that Justin Brown will be leaving the Smoke Eaters to start his education at UBC. I'm not disappointed in Justin or anything, just disappointed that we won't get to see him fully achieve his potential as a BCHL player. However, it is easy to understand his decision.
Anyone who knows Justin knows that he's an extremely sharp guy with a great future ahead of him. As much as hockey is a passion at some point we all have to set our priorities. For someone who is that good of a student it's hard to just sit back for 3 full years after graduation. On top of that Justin has been cursed by one injury after another during his 2 seasons of BCHL hockey. That includes a lingering concussion at the end of this season. I can totally understand his desire to start the next stage of his life.
Just like it was with CJ Legassic last year this is an amicable departure. Both guys are all class and simply doing what they felt was best for their future.
You can tell from the interview I did with Justin that it was a really tough decision. He specifically notes how well everyone in the room gets along and the potential for the Smokies to be very competitive in the Interior this season. I know it'll be tough for Brown to not be a part of that.
As for that potential I mentioned you only have to look to one point at the end of the season when Brown put up 8 points over 7 games. He was always a guy Coach Ingram looked to for leadership, hard work and two-way play. Brown never ran from that role... he embraced it. However, in that stretch Justin proved he could bring an impressive offensive game to the table as well. If he came back and was able to stay healthy there's no reason to think he couldn't be a consistent scoring threat.
Unfortunately this is the end of the road for Brown as an active member of the Smokies roster. As he says in his interview he has many fond memories from that time and will always be proud of wearing a letter with his home town team. I hope once he settles in at UBC we may see him again one day lacing up the skates for the Thunderbirds. Either way the bottom line is that he's going to be a success at whatever it is he does and the whole organization wishes him well.
Here's the interview...
Justin Brown on Mountain FM's Overtime
Click here to download
LINDORES TO TRAIL
One of the seemingly worst kept secrets around these parts has now officially come to light. I knew for a while that Robert Lindores was the "future considerations" in the Tye Lewis for Curtis Tonello deal between Trail and Alberni Valley. I didn't tell anyone but somehow it seems like a number of fans knew about it. Despite that, these things can often take a while to become official at the end of a BCHL season.
We haven't heard anything officially from the Smokies on the matter, but the Bulldogs put out a press release announcing the completion of the deal. I haven't talked to Robert so I don't have a tremendous amount to add to that. I will say that this is a player that I believe has more to offer than what we've seen from him in the BCHL so far. In his two seasons he has primarily been a third/fourth line guy who brings a physical and gritty game to his team. I've also heard that Lindores has a heck of a shot that he could use to become more of a goal scorer if given the opportunity.
The 6'1, 198lbs Port Alberni native will have to leave his home club after two seasons. That's not always a bad thing. There can be some pressures, spotlight and expectations that comes with playing in front of friends and family. Perhaps this will be the chance he needs to "bloom" as a player at this level. I think most would agree the potential is there. He only has 15 career BCHL points, but Lindores was a scorer in Major Midget. He was the top goal scorer and point getter on the North Island Silvertips (13-17-30 in 37 games) during the 2007-08 season. This is a guy who can bring more offence to the table if he's given the opportunity.
In the end you have to like the Lewis deal from Trail's perspective. Tye is a very talented player, but things just weren't working for the Smokies at the time of the trade. It made sense for them to move a couple of their vets to try and get a couple of assets for this season. Tonello made an immediate impact as a calming influence on the back end with untapped offensive ability. He'll be a huge player for Trail this year.
Lindores could easily do the same type of thing as a physical force up front with untapped offensive pressure. Both guys are the types of players who will help a deep roster of returning players compete harder in close games.
Meanwhile, Lewis helped push the Bulldogs to top spot in the Coast during the regular season and a great series against the Kings in the conference finals. It was a deal that appears to have worked for both sides.
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
I won't get into details of the AGM too much on here. We talked about it a bunch on Overtime as it is. I did want to mention though that one thing that was apparent from the meeting is that we need to get more people into the building next year. Trail's core fans are as dedicated and reliable as any... there just aren't quite enough of them.
Trail's average attendance of 912 people basically tied them with Prince George for 5th in the Interior and 11th in the BCHL. That's not actively bad or anything, but it's not good enough. The Smokies face additional travel expenses thanks to our location here all by ourselves without a BCHL neighbour. If this team is going to go toe to toe with teams in the Okanagan the attendance has to be in the same league as those teams. There is no reason a city full of passionate hockey fans can't at least equal the 1047 fans they average in West Kelowna or the 1008 they average in Salmon Arm.
So how do we do that? I've taken on some additional responsibility with the club this year as the Marketing Director. That means I'll be working on corporate sponsorship and developing some marketing strategies for the club during the off season. That in addition with my full time gig at Mountain FM makes me a pretty busy man.
In this new role I'm constantly talking to different people brainstorming ideas to get the community more excited about the hockey club. The easy answer for better attendance is a winning product. I believe we'll have that this year. That being said, we can't count on that to change things alone. We're going to be doing some new things to especially try and bring more kids and young families to the rink.
Any ideas? I hope I have some, but I clearly don't have all the answers. If anyone out there has some suggestions for what they think we should do to fill those orange seats at the Cominco Arena feel free to let me know. I should note though that many of these ideas require more "people power" than we have so as much as I'd appreciate ideas I'd also love to see more people volunteer their time. That's what makes this team tick.
Also, if you're thinking about getting involved with the club as a corporate sponsor you can get that information by clicking here.
Plus you can support the Smokies by coming out to this year's Alumni Golf Tournament and Banquet. Details are available on the official website.
As is our new videos page.
While I'm busy linking to things I might as well also note that there's a ton of BCHL news up on the league website right now. New hires, contract extensions, promotions, scholarships, etc. Just enough to wet the hockey fan appetite for a while here in the off season.
OK that'll do it for today. Go Lakers!
BCHL News & Trades:
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