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.
Parking No Biggie At Kal Tire Place:
16 hours ago