Here's a picture of Cole Gelley defending Graeme Strukoff last season at the Cominco Arena. Thanks to Randy Emery for that. As noted in Guy Bertrand's Trail Times article, Gelley and Strukoff were drafted one spot away from each other in the WHL Bantam draft several years back. Now they'll find themselves playing together. Here is the press release I wrote up for the Smokies website:
TRAIL, BC - Trail Smoke Eaters Coach and GM Jim Ingram announced today that the Smokies have acquired defenceman Cole Gelley and future considerations from the Surrey Eagles in exchange for defenceman Wade Bennett and forward Robert Lindores.
"Cole is a real good skating, puck moving defenceman that can quarterback a power play," said Ingram. "I think that's something we wanted to make sure we had (enough of) in the line-up."
Gelly, 19, recorded one goal, 19 assists (1-19-20) and 26 penalty minutes in 58 games with the Eagles last season. Gelley made his BCHL debut as an AP in 2007-08 and has played 101 career regular season games with the Eagles. Prior to that he played 75 games in Major Midget, recording 27 points (6-19-27) and 66 penalty minutes for the Vancouver North West Giants.
"It's a good opportunity and I'm excited to come up there," said Gelley. "I don't think my point totals really represent how much of an offensive player I am."
"I feel I have way more in the tank than that."
The move was partly necessitated by the number of returning 20 year old players on Trail's roster.
"There's no secret that we were top heavy with 1990 birth years," said Ingram.
This deal combined with the recent trade of Garrett Beckwith to Drumheller in the AJHL and the departure of Tom Rizzardo to Bizmark of the NAHL, trims Trail's number of 1990 born players from 10 to 7 before training camp. BCHL teams can only carry 6 of them once the puck drops for the regular season.
Bennett, 20, scored 3 goals and 19 assists (3-19-22) as a forward and defenceman with the Smoke Eaters last season. Lindores, 19, has scored 6 goals and 9 assists (6-9-15) over 89 career games with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. He became Trail property as the future considerations in the Tye Lewis for Curtis Tonello trade.
As noted in the press release, the 20 year old log jam was reduced further as Tom Rizzardo has opted to play for Bizmark in the North American Hockey League. Tommy is a classy young man who has a lot of offensive talent. He proved that with Nelson during their KIJHL championship run in 2009. I hope he is able to translate that to the Junior A level with Bizmark.
That leaves Trail with seven 1990 born players in training camp. There's nothing wrong with a little healthy competition among veterans to make sure these guys aren't taking their spots for granted. We know camp is always competitive among rookies trying to make the club. This situation should make sure the vets are fighting for their jobs too.
The addition of Gelley ensures that barring any other moves the Smokies are going to have a veteran defensive unit this season. Gelley, Steve Koshey, Graeme Strukoff and Curtis Tonello are entering their third BCHL seasons while it will be the second for Eric Walker and Ben Matthews. There is room for one or two rookies to make the roster and learn with that group. However, that is a big step up from last September when the club was throwing 4 or 5 rookies over the boards every night. I'm sure goaltender Kiefer Smiley is thanking his lucky stars there will be some veteran help early on this year.
Training camp gets started on August 23rd with registration at 8:30am. The camp will run for three days and then the Smokies have a couple of exhibition games in Chase against Vernon.
The second annual Smokies pre-season tournament will run from Thursday, September 2nd to Saturday, September 4th. Here is the schedule:
Thursday, September 2nd
4:30pm Penticton vs Powell River
7:30pm Brooks vs Trail
Friday, September 3rd
4:30pm Brooks vs Penticton
7:30pm Powell River vs Trail
Saturday, September 4th
10:30am Powell River vs Brooks
1pm Penticton vs Trail
I'll do my best to get the arena as much as possible for the games. You can also likely count on some live coverage of the games on Ryan Pinder's Vees Blog. He did some live blogging from it lats year.
KIJHL ROSTER MOVES
A couple of moves in the KIJHL last week. First a trade that saw Grand Forks send PIM king Jacob Halderman to Columbia Valley for defencemen Zack MacLellan and Jordan Groenheyde. MacLellan was Columbia Valley's All-Star game rep. Both teams finished last in their division last season and are hoping for bounce back seasons. Can't hurt the Border Bruins to get a couple of young d-men with experience in the league. They finished well last year and I'm really hoping to see them continue to push forward. The community will really get behind them if they continue making progress. Check out the Off the Wahl blog for more.
New Nelson Leafs Coach and GM Chris Shaw announced this week that they've received a commitment from four of last year's veterans to return in September. F Gavin Currie, F Cody Abbey, D Tyler Parfeniuk and D Taylor O'Neil will all be back in Nelson. O'Neil and Currie both played as APs for Trail last season. Taylor is the Leafs Captain while Currie was their top forward in 2009-10. They should form a very strong core for Shaw to build around.
New Castlegar Coach and GM Steve Junker also announced that they'll be getting a couple of veteran talents back this season. Tough forward Taylor Anderson and top defenceman Darren Tarasoff have committed to return to the Rebels. Anderson was third in the KIJHL in penalty minutes while Tarasoff spent most of last season with Williams Lake in the BCHL. They should both be leaders on Junker's first squad.
Both the Leafs and Rebels will likely get more of last year's players back, but as with all KIJHL teams it is a waiting game until BCHL camps are complete. I've yet to hear much about who is or isn't expected back in Beaver Valley, but I do know they're excited about a lot of the young local talent that will be a part of their club this season.
Mountain FM is the official media partner of the KIJHL and we will continue to be the primary source for KIJHL coverage in the Kootenay-Boundary. If anything our coverage will expand and evolve this season. I'm looking forward to it.
More to come on the blog this week including and interview with former Smokies Coach Tim Kehler on taking over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks this season.