Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sandor to AIC

I hope everyone is heading out to AM Ford Plus at the Waneta Mall in Trail today to "Drive one for the Smokies." It's a terrific way to raise some money for the club and I thank Ford Canada and AM Ford for getting behind it.

Some terrific and long overdue news to pass on today as well. I did up a press release to announce Nick Sandor's commitment to AIC. He'll be playing NCAA Division I hockey for the Yellow Jackets next season.

After the way Nick has played over his two seasons in Trail you had to think it was only a matter of time before he got his opportunity. Sandor is a hard working and classy young man who earned everything he now has.

You only have to look back to his rookie season struggles to see how far he has come. Sandor battled injuries as an 18 year old with Alberni Valley and ended up with 3 points in 32 games. Did he give up on his dream? Far from it. Nick earned a new opportunity in Trail and leaped into a top 6 role with the club almost right away. He got Coach Ingram's attention with his play in practice and then made it count when Ingram gave him a chance on a line with Chad Gehon and Andrew Pickering.

It's one thing to expect opportunity to come your way and another thing to not only earn it, but make it stick. That's why Nick always found himself among the top forwards on the team for ice time over his two seasons in Trail.

Sandor produced as well as almost anyone in the BCHL last year whether it was on a line with Scott Jacklin and Sam Mellor or when he spent time with Michael Betz and Travis St. Denis. His hockey sense translated well to both of those lines because he just has a nose for the puck and the net. I'm sure he'll have a ton of success with the Yellow Jackets starting this fall.

Congrats Nick, it's well earned!

TRAIL, BC - The British Columbia Hockey League’s Trail Smoke Eaters are proud to announce that graduating forward Nick Sandor has committed to attend American International College. He will suit up for the NCAA Division I Yellow Jackets starting in the 2010/11 season.

Sandor joined the Smoke Eaters in the fall of 2008 after an injury plagued rookie season with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. He immediately earned an opportunity with Trail’s top line and never looked back.

“We gave him that ice time and he grabbed the ball and ran with it,” said Smokies Coach Jim Ingram. “That was the result of his hard work. (Sandor) brought a very complete game to the rink every night.”

The North Vancouver native scored 106 points in 104 regular season games with the Smoke Eaters. He put up 30 goals last season to lead the team.

“I think I really started to come into my own in Trail because of the environment that surrounded me,” said Sandor. “I grew a great amount of confidence playing there because it was for me a perfect combination of trust and belief in the players; but at the same time a level of accountability that pushed you to play like you should.”

The Okanagan Hockey Academy graduate took his time picking the right spot for his post-secondary career.

“I had several different looks as to what next year was going look like,” Sandor said. “But after dealing with everything and going down there the choice was easy. I feel like it's a place I can definitely succeed in both athletically and academically.”

Sandor certainly abides by the motto that states once you’ve played for the Smokies
you’re a Smoke Eater for life.

“My time in Trail meant everything to me,” he said. “It was a great experience that I give mass amounts of credit to. From all the staff around the team to all the guys on the team, Trail was full of good people that really made me enjoy the two seasons I spent there.”

“I hope for great success for the Smokies in years to come.”


For more information contact Smoke Eaters Coach and General Manager Jim Ingram at 250-364-9994 or visit
Again congratulations to Nick and his family for what is I'm sure a dream come true. I'm looking forward to seeing his name on the box score next year.

Here's a video of Sandor highlights I made up in December...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Drive one for the Smokies

On Saturday, June 19, 2010 at 9:00am, AM Ford will be hosting the "Drive One for the Smokies" Test Drive Event at A.M. Plus by the Waneta Plaza.

Every test drive will result in a $20.00 donation from Ford Motor Company to the Trail Smoke Eaters Hockey Club.

Ford Motor Company is committed to 300 test drives which will result in a $6000.00 donation to the Trail Smoke Eaters.

Players, Coaches and Executive members will be on site to assist the staff at A.M. Ford to ensure the success of this event. Come out and show your community spirit and come out and test drive some of the best product on the market today that A.M. Ford has to offer.

There will be a barbecue and refreshments available.

Come and meet some of the Smoke Eater players and coaching staff. One test drive will be offered per household so tell your neighbors and your friends to come to A.M. Plus on Saturday, June 19th at 9:00AM.

We will be offering test drives until we reach our goal of 300 test drives.

Dan Ashman - President A.M. Ford Sales Ltd.

Tom Gawryletz - President Trail Smoke Eaters

Thursday, June 17, 2010

BC Sports Hall of Fame Community Experience partners with Smokies Alumni Weekend

Click here for details on the Smokes Alumni Banquet and Golf Tournament

VANCOUVER, BC (June 17, 2010):
The installation of the new roof at BC Place provides the BC Sports Hall of Fame with a tremendous opportunity to showcase the stories of BC’s incredible sporting accomplishments spanning over 100 years-including the inspiring 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Trail, British Columbia is the first stop outside the Lower Mainland for the BC Sports Hall of Fame Community Experience and is coming up this July 9th and 10th. This Community Experience would not be possible without a partnership with the Trail Smoke Eaters Hockey Team.

Final decisions and plans are still underway, but a few highlights from the items to be displayed include:

  • Olympic torches from 2010, 2006, 2002, 1988 and 1976;
  • 2010 Olympic and Paralympic artifacts;
  • Interactive Games; and
  • Artifacts representing the sporting careers of the BC Sports Hall of Famers from Trail and the surrounding area.
“The BC Sports Hall of Fame Community Experience is the ideal way for us to continue our vision of Honouring the Past and Inspiring the Future during this unique time” shares President and CEO Sue Griffin, “British Columbians have been visiting the BC Sports Hall of Fame for decades, now it is our turn to visit the great communities of BC.” The BC Sports Hall of Fame is excited about this opportunity to share the exceptional sport stories of BC Sports Hall of Famers outside the Lower Mainland and looks forward to our upcoming visit to Trail, British Columbia.

About the BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum

The BC Sports Hall of Fame, a non-profit society, is the ‘go to’ organization for BC sport heritage. For over 40 years, we have honoured BC’s teams, builders, athletes, pioneers, and media through the annual induction ceremony, The Banquet of Champions. To date 310 individuals and 52 teams have been inducted onto the BC Sports Hall of Fame. The collection of the BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum includes over 25,000 artifacts and 20,000 archival documents representing 100 years of sporting accomplishments in British Columbia. In everything it does, the BC Sports Hall of Fame honours, educates, and inspires through the Hero In You© educational program.

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Media contacts:

Allison Mailer
Director of Operations
BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum
Direct 604-647-6447
Cellular 778-839-8576

Smokies trades bring veteran scoring punch

TRAIL, BC – The Trail Smoke Eaters have acquired two leading scorers from the Alberta Junior Hockey League in exchange for three players from last season's roster.

Trail sent F Matt Wilkins (91), F Darnell Dyck (91) and D Mitch Kaufmann (91) to the Brooks Bandits for F Cullen Bradshaw (90) and F Steve Dobbin (90). The Smokies then flipped Dobbin to Lloydminster for F Bret Slobodzian (90).

“If there's a message to be sent here it's that we want to be competitive right out of training camp,”said Ingram. “I'm extremely optimistic, but we have to form together as a group and as a team.”

Both players are expected to put up points and earn lots of ice time, but that's not the only reason club management is excited about them.

“They're very skilled and they put numbers up,” said Smokies Head Scout Brad Fox. “But more importantly these are very strong character kids.”

Before joining the Bandits, Bradshaw made some noise by scoring 51 points in 66 games over two seasons with the Midget AAA Medicine Hat Tigers. He led the team in scoring during his second season.

Bradshaw then made the jump to the AJHL where he put up 32 points in his first year. After getting used to the level of play in Junior A he came back to lead the Bandits with 28 goals and 65 points as a 19 year old. Bradshaw also clicked on the power play with 11 goals.

“I love it all,” said Bradshaw when asked about his thoughts on Trail after last season's exhibition tournament.

The Medicine Hat native was impressed by the facilities and the hockey history BC's Number One Sports Townhad to offer. He is also optimistic the roster the Smokies have coming back for next season can be competitive.

“Hopefully we can mesh together and bring a championship back to Trail.”

The other new Smoke Eater knows a thing or two about winning championships. Brett Slobodzian helped the Midget AAA Prince Albert Mintos win the second of back to back Telus Cups in 2008. He scored 46 points in 42 games for the Mintos.

Slobodzian then made the jump to Lloydminster in the AJHL where he put up 83 points in 108 games over two seasons. He had 13 multi-point games for the Bobcats as their leading scorer last season, but doesn't seem himself as one dimensional.

“I think I'm almost better defensively.”

As for coming to Trail, the Saskatoon native wasn't that familiar with the area.

“I had to Google it.”

However, Slobodzian is excited about the opportunity to play with all the talent on the Smokies roster. He is also looking forward to what he feels will be a better opportunity to get noticed by playing in the BCHL.

Adding Slobodzian and Bradshaw came at a price.

“To bring in players of this impact we had to give up very good hockey players,” said Ingram.

Wilkins, Dyck and Kaufmann combined for 71 points in 128 games as 18 year olds. The Smokies organization thanks them for their contributions and wishes them well in the next steps of their career.

For more information contact Smoke Eaters Coach and GM Jim Ingram at 250-364-9994.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Kromm Tribute Audio

Overtime's Tribute to Bobby Kromm (Norm Lenardon, Seth Martin and Cal Hockley)

Click here to download

Thanks for those who have passed on kind words after listening to the tribute show on Friday. It's always a pleasure to talk to class acts like Norm, Seth and Cal. Especially when they get to talk about someone who meant so much to the hockey community here. Check out Guy Bertrand's article on Kromm here.

(A note on the Smoke Eaters trade as mentioned on my Twitter and the Smokies Facebook, Trail flipped newsly acquired F Steve Dobbin to Lloydminster for their leading scorer F Brett Slobodzian. More on that deal tonight on Overtime and later on the blog.)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Bobby Kromm Dies

Legendary Trail Smoke Eaters Player/Coach Bobby Kromm passed away on Wednesday -- the day after his 82nd birthday.

Kromm took the Smokies to the 1961 World Championship, 1963 Allan Cup and an Allan Cup final in 1960. He also took the Nelson Maple Leafs to the Allan Cup final in 1965.

As a player he was one of the all-time Western International Hockey League scorers with 783 points. Kromm was known more as a set-up man as he piled up 524 assists over his long career. He was also known as a very tough customer as both a player and a coach.

Anyone I've talked to about Bobby has told me he would accept nothing less but the best from his players. He was a hard man to play for, but he got results.

In some ways the more I read about Kromm's commitment to conditioning it seems like he was ahead of his time. That has become such a big part of the game these days. Coaches like Kromm proved how making sure you team was in top shape could give you an edge. Now proper fitness is a key aspect of how all the best coaches approach the game.

Kromm went from his time in senior hockey to the professional ranks. He won three Central Hockey League championships with the Dallas Black Hawks, an Avco Cup with the World Hockey Association's Winnipeg Jets and the 1977 NHL Coach of the Year Award as the bench boss of the Detroit Red Wings.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Kromm at the Smoke Eaters Alumni Banquet last summer. Even while going thruogh a long battle with colon cancer Kromm made time to return to his adopted home for a couple of good causes. As we approach the 50th anniversary of that 1961 World Championship team I'm honoured that I got to introduce and shake hands with one of the men most responsible for that moment of hockey history.

I'm sure the whole community here thanks Bobby for his contributions to Trail hockey and will remember him fondly.

We'll have a special edition of Mountain FM's Overtime tonight in tribute of Bobby Kromm. I already know Seth Martin will join us on the show and I hope to line some more guests up throughout the afternoon. Join us from 6pm to 10pm at 104.1FM in Trail and at

Smokies 2010-2011 Schedule Released

It all gets started with a double header in Trail on September 10th and 11th against Merritt. It ends February 19th in Merritt. It seems like we're in Merritt at the end of the season every year! The Smokies will play the Centennials 8 times, every other Interior team 6 times and every Coastal team twice. Click here for the full schedule.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Smokies make five player trade

The Trail Smoke Eaters made a major five player deal today with the AJHL's Brooks Bandits. Matt Wilkins, Darnell Dyck and Mitch Kaufmann are headed to Brooks for Cullen Bradshaw and Steve Dobbin.

Bradshaw was Brooks' top scorer with 65 points while Dobbin was third on the team with 46 points. Dyck scored 29 for Trail while Wilkins had 25 in 37 games and Kaufmann added 17 in 32 games. Everybody in the deal can make a major contribution to their team.

It's a clear signal from the Smokies that they're looking to be competitive next season. Bradshaw and Dobbin are both entering their 20 year old seasons and expected to play at their highest level. Given that they were top scorers on their team in their 19 year old seasons one would expect they have the ability to be go to guys for the Smokies as well. Add them to a core of returning players that already includes several top 6 forwards and there's lots of reason for optimism.

As for the guys heading the other way... it's always disappointing to see promising and talented guys who want to be here move on. That's the reality of trying to make your team better. You have to give up something of real value to try to push to that next level. I'm sure that trading away Wilkins, Dyck and Kaufmann was far from easy for Coach Ingram. I know the team will miss what those guys brought to the table.

Darnell was probably the biggest character on the team who knows how to get under the opponent's skin better than anyone in the league. He also proved last year that he can be an offensive player as he increased his production from 11 points with Surrey to 29 with Trail. With some great moves and a very good shot he could take his game to an even higher level with the Bandits.

Wilkins had a rookie season unfortunately interrupted by a broken jaw in the fall. Up to that point he was hovering at a point per game pace, but it took him a little bit to get back to that when he returned. Matt also admitted to me that earlier in the season he deferred a little too much to the veterans and didn't take his shots. When he started to later in the year and especially in the playoffs... boy he was dangerous. Matt was the top goals per game scorer in the KIJHL as a 17 year old so the sky is the limit in Brooks.

Kaufmann heads back to the AJHL after he won a championship in that league two years ago. He brought a steady all-around game to the Smokies and has a bullet of a shot on the one timer. I think Kaufmann is a guy who with the experience he has gained is going to be able to run a power play in Alberta.

Brooks is lucky to have them.

But as I said you have to give something to get something. Bradshaw's point totals with the Bandits last season would have had him third on the Smokies in scoring behind Jacklin and Sandor. He fits right into that top group of forwards who would make a difference both at even strength and on the power play. He wasn't just a set up guy either as he put 28 goals home last year.

Dobbin also played at a high level with a point total that would have had him tied with St. Denis for 4th on the Smokies if he had been here last season. Obviously there are some questions about how the guys will adapt to the BCHL and a new team, but I'm looking forward to seeing both in Smokies colours.

This move gives Trail the kind of depth at the top of their line-up that would allow them to role out 3 very strong scoring lines. Depth wins championships whether you're Vernon or Chicago. Add that to all the new recruits that are going to be coming to camp and there's a lot to look forward to.

I'll have comments from Coach Ingram on this tomorrow night on Overtime. I'll also have an interview with Bradshaw on coming to Trail. We'll eventually get that audio on the blog as well.

Best of luck to Darnell, Matt and Mitch. You were all class acts and will be terrific in Brooks. Looking forward to seeing you again at the exhibition tournament in September.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

New rules on fighting in the BCHL

The photo above is Josh McEwan in action against Merritt last year. His ability to stand up against some of the biggest guys in the league while more than holding his own is part of why he quickly became a fan favourite. However, under new league rules you're not likely to see Josh drop the gloves quite so often.

Several weeks ago we heard rumblings that Hockey Canada was looking into stricter rules on fighting. It's what they called a study into bullying and intimidation in hockey that included fighting. The result of their study was undetermined but there were rumours they would impose a game misconduct for every fight and suspensions as of a player's second fight. That was never confirmed.

However, the Junior A leagues in BC, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan didn't want to wait for Hockey Canada to impose restrictions on them. Instead, they knew they'd have to come up with some kind of plan that would satisfy the governing body while maybe not going quite as far. They've come up with a pilot project that has been approved by Hockey Canada for a two year trial.

I don't see the document anywhere online but I'll give a brief run down of some key points:
  • All fighting majors will be tracked and once a player receives his 6th major he'll be suspended for 1 game and the team will get fined. That suspension and fine will increase with each subsequent fight. 7th fight wll be 2 games, 8th fight will be 4 games and 9th fight will be 8 games. After that point the league will review an appropriate suspension and fine on top of what has been handed out.
  • The same sort of rule applies in a stricter way to those who receive instigator penalties. Once a player has a 3rd instigator he'll receive a 1 game suspension. The same sort of escalation follows.
  • The new rules will attempt to remove "staged" fights from the game by automatically suspending the participants for 3 games. If there's an instigator penalty for the staged fight (how would there be?) the offending team will see their coach ejected and the team fined. I would think there won't be any planned or staged fights anymore based on this rule. That or players will try very hard to mask it.

There is also a tweaking in the rules when there is more than one fight after a whistle and when goalies get involve. The whole plan includes stricter punishments for heads to the head, accumulated non-fighting majors and game misconducts as well.

I imagine these rules will end up posted on the league sites for the BCHL and the other participants. If that doesn't happen I'll be glad to try to fill in some of the gaps if any of you are curious about something.

I'm of the opinion that this wasn't a necessary change. That being said, if the leagues were facing a stricter change from Hockey Canada they didn't have much of a choice. I applaud the leagues for having the initiative to take some kind of action to avoid the complete elimination of fighting from the game. I also agree with a point made in their document that the "one fight rule" could serve as a way for teams to target certain players to get them out of the game. I'm glad they've avoided that.

I guess the question is why Hockey Canada feels the need to rock the boat on this one at all. Have we seen a rash of "bullying" or "intimidating" from fighting? Have we seen a number of dangerous injuries from fighting at this level? I've only been around for a few years but I have not seen anything of that nature. This seems like a knee-jerk reaction to a problem that didn't exist. The "gong show" brawls of the past are not a problem in the BCHL. Generally I think most fights in this league are just two guys standing up for their team to send a message in a clean way. Clearly someone up high disagreed.

You will not see changes like this in major junior I'll guarantee that.

I think it's safe to say with automatic suspensions for a player's 6th fighting major we've seen the end of the tough guy or "goon" that some teams bring in. It also means we won't get to see guys like Jadon Porterfield and Sean Nugent a couple of years ago drop the gloves nearly 20 times each. If anyone gets to even half that number they'll likely be gone from the league.

Is that good or bad? I'll leave that up to you to decide. All I know is that the following youtube clip is easily the most viewed clip on my channel. I wonder why?

Ferster Steps Down

Word today out of Salmon Arm that Coach/GM Rylan Ferster has stepped down. The former Smokies assistant was in his second term with the Silverbacks. He's had a lot of success there and will be difficult to replace. One can only assume from the press release that Ferster has found some kind of work at a higher level. What about a couple of the vacant WHL coaching jobs? The Kootenay Ice have had success with BCHL coaches before. We'll see where he lands. Good luck to Rylan who was always a class act and easy to deal with. Even when he was giving me a quick shove during my broadcast lats year!

Big turn over with Salmon Arm this year as they fired Coach Matt Hughes after the season and now need to replace their GM as well. It'll be interesting to see what names become available. There was speculation a few months ago that former Vipers Coach Troy Mick might be the name to slide in there. However, Mick has since moved from Revelstoke to a position with Pursuit of Excellence. I would think that takes him out of the running.

A couple of names that pop into my head as possibilities include Vipers assistant Jason Williamson. Hard not to be interested in a guy who was a big part of back to back national champions. What about a top KIJHL coach like Will Verner in in Fernie who has BCHL experience as well? I wonder if former Smoke Eaters Coach Tim Kehler is interested in getting back into the BCHL after being let go in Swift Current. I'm sure there will be applications coming in from all over the hockey world.

Most fans seem to want to talk about Salmon Arm's goaltending situation. I wonder if that will be an issue for any new coach lining up to take over the job. No matter what they won't be short in applicants as they've been a very successful team in a strong market. Good luck to them in their search.

Stay tuned to the blog as today or tomorrow I want to get in to the details of some pretty significant rule changes in the BCHL.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Healing Anaya

This isn't typical content for this blog but I felt the need to pass it on. My friend is helping organize an event for a family in Nelson that could use some community support. If you'd like to attend or could donate to the cause I'm sure it'd be appreciated. Here is the information...

On June 11, 2010 there will be a Fundraiser Gala Dinner and Dance at the Prestige Inn to support baby Anaya and her family and to raise money for Krabbe Leukodystrophy research.

Anaya Cassin-Potts is a local 8 month old baby recently diagnosed with infantile Krabbe Leukodystrophy. This terrible disease causes demyelination in the brain leading to loss of motor function, loss of speech, blindness, deafness, and often death before age two.


Anaya’s family has been doing their best to help her heal utilizing alternative therapies as there are no conventional medical treatments for this disease once symptoms appear. Her mother stays by her side day in and day out to ensure her comfort and enjoyment of life. She receives daily physiotherapy exercise and has shown some improvement. Read her blog at

Having a child that is medically fragile puts extra strain on her young family. In order to meet their financial needs during this time it is necessary to fundraise to ensure their quality of life and lessen financial stress. The family also wishes to raise funds for the Hunters Hope Foundation which conducts Krabbe Leukodystrophy research and provides family supports.


We are looking to the community to support this event by contributing to the silent auction or attending the event. If you wish to contribute please contact Julia 250.551.4185 at , or Tom at 250.505.0275. Tickets to the Gala available at the Prestige. For ticket delivery call Julia or Tom. Gala info call 250.505.0275.

Ticket includes Wine with Dinner and Live Music, $50.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Smokes Announce Exhibition Tournament

Trail, BC -- The Trail Smoke Eaters announced today plans for a second annual exhibition tournament at the Cominco Arena. The event will take place from Thursday, September 2nd through Saturday, September 4th.

Once again a trio of British Columbia Hockey League teams will be joined by an Alberta opponent. The tournament will include the Smoke Eaters, Penticton Vees, Powell River Kings and Brooks Bandits.

Last year's event was the first of it's kind in Trail and drew over a dozen NCAA schools.

"We want to see that number increase this year," says Smokies Coach and GM Jim Ingram. "We think we have a great young talent base with the three teams that are coming in here."

One change this year saw the tournament moved from the final weekend in August to the first in September.

"A lot cuts will have been made and that gives the schools a chance to see what the teams will actually look like."

Ingram doesn't just see it as a chance to showcase players to scouts.

"It's a great opportunity for us to showcase Trail," he says. "The teams last year absolutely loved it so we're happy to do it again."

Ingram notes there has been interest from other teams willing to participate in the tournament. For now the Smokies will keep it to four clubs, but the possibility is open for expanding the event in the future.

The Smoke Eaters will be showing off a large crop of returning players including three who were at a point per game scoring pace in the 2009-10 season. While players like Travis St. Denis (Quinnipiac), Sam Mellor (Alaksa-Anchorage) and Eric Walker (Northern Michigan) are already committed to NCAA schools; there are several other current Smokies and recruits who will attract attention from scouts.

The Powell River Kings are the two-time defending BCHL Coastal Conference Champions. They were one game away from representing the BCHL in the 2010 Royal Bank Cup.

Penticton was the third place team in the final CJHL regular season national rankings. 18 Vees on last season's roster earned commitments from NCAA schools.

Brooks brings representation from the AJHL. They finished fifth in the South Division and advanced to the second round of the playoffs in 2009-10.

For more information on the 2010 Trail Smoke Eaters exhibition tournament, visit or

Sign up for Alumni Golf Tournament and Banquet

Click here to register for the golf tournament or sign up for a corporate package.