This picture is of 16 year old Dallas Calvin trying to catch up with veteran Travis St. Denis. That's what this weekend in Chase is all about. Prospects trying to show they belong with the vets.
From quickly communicating with a couple of people this week it was obvious that the games tonight and tomorrow against Vernon are all about evaluating prospects. Both the Vipers and Smoke Eaters are leaving most of their veterans at home while they take a close look at which young guys might be ready to make the jump.
So this weekend will be the BCHL version of an NHL prospect tournament. It will be an opportunity for the young guys to shine when going head to head with one another. Only the truly hungry players will survive and make the impression they need to make.
For the Smokies the focus remains primarily on filling out their forward unit. It'll be harder for any rookies to break through on the back end (that's not a given mind you), but there is room for between 5 and 7 rookie forwards depending on how things shape up. Some guys may think they're locks or sure things, but if you get out played in these games by the other hungry prospects suddenly you can find yourself on the outside looking in. As much as the games don't mean anything for the standings they mean a whole heck of a lot in determining the look of both clubs.
While Trail does have a large returning core, Vernon has had a big turnover after back to back national championships. The Smokies will get a first hand perspective on the future core of the always powerful Vipers. It will be good to see how their young prospects will match up with the Vernon recruits.
Can one of the 16 year olds break through this weekend? Will a defenceman show enough that Coach Ingram has to reconsider keeping all his veterans? With Kiefer Smiley staying at home for the Chase trip which goaltender will emerge as the favourite for the back-up spot this season?
There are a lot of questions to answer. I'm not in Chase due to work commitments but I'll do my best to let you know what went down tonight and tomorrow. I think we'll see a much trimmer and more veteran heavy roster when it comes time for the Mountain FM Ashes pre-season tournament next weekend. Should be fun.
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