Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Leafs Hire Maida, GF Swings A Deal

The Nelson Leafs have hired Frank Maida as the team's new head coach and general manager. Maida was formerly an assistant during the tenure of longtime bench boss Simon Wheeldon, who stepped down at the conclusion of the 2009-10 season. Maida replaces Chris Shaw, who announced last week he's moving on to become an assistant with Vernon in the BCHL.

Speaking of Wheeldon, he will not be back as the head coach of the major midget Kootenay Ice. That squad will be led by Mario DiBella for the 2011-12 season. The Nelson Star has a nice write-up here, which includes the nugget that former Leaf assistant Sean Dooley will help out with the midget squad this year.

Border Bruins Trade News: The team announced on Twitter this morning they've acquired defenseman Mike Berry from the Penticton Lakers. Heading to the Okanagan is 19 year-old blueliner Derek Grimm, who put up 19 points with the Bruins and Revelstoke Grizzlies last season. Berry played only 14 games with Penticton in 2010-11, amassing 7 points in the process. Grimm is the second Border Bruin to be traded in recent memory; the squad sent Mack Wallace to PIJHL North Van earlier this month.

Winds Of Change

Regular readers, do not adjust your settings.

I've hinted at the possibility of a few changes for a while now, so here they are. I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to be the new play-by-play broadcaster for the BCHL's Trail Smoke Eaters. Although regrettably there will be no games on the radio this season, you can catch every Trail home game and select away games on the BCHL website, which provides free audio as well as a pay-per-view video option. It's a chance that I couldn't pass up, and I'm looking forward to following several great former Smokies broadcasters that have set the bar very high.

As for the Rebels, we are currently seeking someone to call the games for the 2011-12 KIJHL season. More than anything, I know the club is looking for a person (or two) who want to have fun with the broadcasts, so if it's something that piques your interest, I encourage you to either drop me an email or contact the club via I can say first-hand that it's a terrific organization to work with from president Jim Craig on down to the game-night volunteers and I'm extremely grateful for the chance to have called the Rebels games over the past year.

As for the future of the blog, it will naturally include a lot more Smoke Eaters/BCHL coverage, but keeping in line with my duties at the station expect a lot of news and audio from all four of our local KIJHL teams throughout the course of the season.

Looking forward to seeing everyone at the rink this winter (although it still seems like much too long to wait).

Monday, July 18, 2011

Smoke Eaters Release 2011-12 Schedule

The Trail Smoke Eaters and the BCHL have released the schedule for the 2011-12 regular season. It's the league's 50th anniversary according to this release and will open with 14 of the league's 16 teams in action on Friday, September 23rd. The Smokies will hit the ice at the Cominco Arena that night in the first of an opening-weekend double-header with the Westside Warriors, who have knocked Trail out of the playoffs each of the last three seasons. The Smokies' 60-game schedule will conclude on Sunday, March 11th in Chilliwack.

With this season's adoption of a half-interlock schedule, the Smokies will not host four Coastal Conference teams (those being Cowichan Valley, Langley, Powell River and Surrey). Fans in Trail will get to see Alberni Valley, Coquitlam, Nanaimo, Victoria and the entire Interior Conference lineup as part of a 30-game home schedule.

Here's a look at the Smoke Eaters' 2011-12 season schedule, broken down by month:

Fri. Sep. 23 vs. Westside Warriors, 7:30
Sat. Sep. 24 vs. Westside Warriors, 7:30
Wed. Sep. 28 vs. Merritt Centennials, 7:30
Fri. Sep. 30 @ Merritt Centennials, 7:30

Sat. Oct. 1 @ Penticton Vees, 7:00
Fri. Oct. 7 vs. Salmon Arm Silverbacks, 7:30
Sat. Oct. 8 @ Salmon Arm Silverbacks, 7:00
Fri. Oct. 14 @ Prince George Spruce Kings, 7:00
Sat. Oct. 15 @ Prince George Spruce Kings, 7:00
Wed. Oct. 19 vs. Penticton Vees, 7:30
Sat. Oct. 22 vs. Vernon Vipers, 7:30
Fri. Oct. 28 @ Chilliwack Chiefs, 7:00
Sat. Oct. 29 @ Powell River Kings, 7:30
Sun. Oct. 30 @ Cowichan Valley Capitals, 3:30

Fri. Nov. 4 vs. Vernon Vipers, 7:30
Sat. Nov. 5 @ Salmon Arm Silverbacks, 7:00
Sun. Nov. 6 @ Westside Warriors, 2:30
Wed. Nov. 9 @ Salmon Arm Silverbacks, 7:00
Fri. Nov. 11 vs. Penticton Vees, 7:30
Sat. Nov. 12 vs. Vernon Vipers, 7:30
Wed. Nov. 16 @ Penticton Vees, 7:00
Sun. Nov. 20 vs. Penticton Vees, 3:00
Fri. Nov. 25 @ Westside Warriors, 7:00
Sat. Nov. 26 vs. Westside Warriors, 7:30
Wed. Nov. 30 vs. Merritt Centennials, 7:30

Fri. Dec. 2 vs. Chilliwack Chiefs, 7:30
Sat. Dec. 3 vs. Chilliwack Chiefs, 7:30
Thu. Dec. 8 @ Vernon Vipers, 7:00
Fri. Dec. 9 @ Chilliwack Chiefs, 7:00
Sat. Dec. 10 @ Merritt Centennials, 7:30
Fri. Dec. 16 @ Vernon Vipers, 7:00
Sat. Dec. 17 vs. Nanaimo Clippers, 7:30
Fri. Dec. 30 @ Prince George Spruce Kings, 7:00

Wed. Jan. 4 vs. Salmon Arm Silverbacks, 7:30
Sat. Jan. 7 vs. Victoria Grizzlies, 7:30
Fri. Jan. 13 vs. Coquitlam Express, 7:30
Sun. Jan. 15 vs. Chilliwack Chiefs, 3:00
Wed. Jan. 18 vs. Salmon Arm Silverbacks, 7:30
Fri. Jan. 20 @ Vernon Vipers, 7:00
Sat. Jan. 21 @ Salmon Arm Silverbacks, 7:00
Fri. Jan. 27 @ Chilliwack Chiefs, 7:00
Sat. Jan. 28 @ Surrey Eagles, 7:00
Sun. Jan. 29 @ Langley Rivermen, 2:00

Thu. Feb. 2 vs. Alberni Valley Bulldogs, 7:30
Sat. Feb. 4 vs. Chilliwack Chiefs, 7:30
Tue. Feb. 7 @ Vernon Vipers, 7:00
Fri. Feb. 10 vs. Prince George Spruce Kings, 7:30
Sat. Feb. 11 vs. Prince George Spruce Kings, 7:30
Thu. Feb. 16 vs. Westside Warriors, 7:30
Fri. Feb. 17 vs. Salmon Arm Silverbacks, 7:30
Thu. Feb. 23 @ Penticton Vees, 7:00
Fri. Feb. 24 @ Merritt Centennials, 7:30
Sat. Feb. 25 @ Westside Warriors, 7:00
Wed. Feb. 29 vs. Merritt Centennials, 7:30

Fri. Mar. 2 vs. Prince George Spruce Kings, 7:30
Sat. Mar. 3 vs. Prince George Spruce Kings, 7:30
Tue. Mar. 6 @ Penticton Vees, 7:00
Fri. Mar. 9 vs. Merritt Centennials, 7:30
Sat. Mar. 10 @ Merritt Centennials, 7:30
Sun. Mar. 11 @ Chilliwack Chiefs, 5:00

The schedules for our local KIJHL teams should also be out in relatively short order, I'll post them here once they're released.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Smokies Pre-Season Tourney Schedule Announced

The Trail Smoke Eaters have released the schedule for this year's pre-season tournament, set for Sept. 1-3 at the Cominco Arena.

September 1st: Powell River vs. Wenatchee Wild (NAHL), 3:00 PM; Trail vs. Brooks Bandits (AJHL), 7:00 PM.

September 2nd: Wenatchee vs. Brooks, 3:00 PM; Trail vs. Powell River, 7:00 PM.

September 3rd: Powell River vs. Brooks, 10:30 AM; Trail vs. Wenatchee, 1:30 PM.

Batten, Shaw, Stocks Audio

Some audio reaction to this week's KIJHL news.

To hear Grand Forks head coach/GM Brent Batten's thoughts on the recent trade with the PIJHL's North Vancouver Wolfpack, click here.

For outgoing Nelson Leafs bench boss Chris Shaw's take on moving to the BCHL's Vernon Vipers, click here.

For Leafs president Russell Stocks on Nelson's future plans, click here.

Bits & Bites: As rumoured, the Kimberley Dynamiters have re-acquired former Leaf Brennan Foreman. The 20 year-old split last season between Kimberley, Nelson and Creston Valley. The Castlegar Rebels are expected to unveil new uniforms before the start of the 2011-12 season. I'm told the colours will remain the same but there could be some tinkering with the team's logo. As a self-professed jersey junkie, I can't wait to see what the team comes up with.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Shaw to Vernon

Nelson Leafs head coach and GM Chris Shaw is back in the BCHL as an assistant coach with the Vernon Vipers. The Vernon Morning Star came out with this piece on the deal this afternoon.

Shaw will serve under new Vipers bench boss Jason Williamson, and as the article states, the pair played both against each other in the BCHL, but were also recruited together to Niagara University (NCAA Div. I).

In his one season in Nelson, Shaw's Leafs went 25-22-0-3, finishing third in the Neil Murdoch division before pushing Beaver Valley to seven games in the opening round of the KIJHL playoffs. He's also been an assistant with the Penticton Lakers and BCHL Alberni Valley Bulldogs (for whom he also played during the franchise's tenure in Burnaby).

Stay tuned to 103.5 the Bridge and Mountain FM through the day tomorrow for audio reaction from Shaw and Leafs president Russell Stocks. I'll have the tape up here in short order.

Congrats Chris, and we'll see you at the Cominco Arena this winter I'm sure.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Wallace to PIJHL, Other Trade News

The Grand Forks Border Bruins have swung a deal with North Vancouver of the PIJHL, sending defenseman Mack Wallace westward in exchange for forward Jacob Bergeron. Wallace, a Vancouver product, put up 14 points (3-11) and 109 PIMs for the Bruins in his 16 year-old season in 2010-11, and represented the Kootenay Conference in the 2011 KIJHL Top Prospects Game in Fernie. He's also a list player of the WHL's Calgary Hitmen.

In Bergeron, the Border Bruins get a 6-3 19 year-old forward who scored 16 points (7-9) on a Squamish club (which has since moved southeast to my old stomping grounds on the North Shore) that won only six games in 2010-11. I chatted with Border Bruins head coach/GM Brent Batten this morning; he seems very excited about what the Calgary native brings to the table, stay tuned to Mountain FM/103.5 the Bridge for his thoughts, which will subsequently be posted here.

Braves Deal: Grand Forks wasn't alone in playing "let's make a deal" over the past week. Spokane sent promising '93 forward Jesse Collins to the Creston Valley Thunder Cats to complete a deal from last season that saw Dylan Solberg head to the Braves. Collins was a late cut of the NAHL's Wenatchee Wild at the start of the 2010-11 season and attended the Smoke Eaters' spring camp this past March.

And More: Golden also picked up a strong 20 year-old forward in Colten DeFrias from the Kelowna Chiefs for futures. DeFrias will be re-united with younger brother Brett with the Rockets. Fernie and Kimberley swung a three-player deal that sees forwards Mark Strachan and Stefan Burzan head to the Bavarian City in exchange for forward Daniel Higgs, whom the Dynamiters had recently acquired from PIJHL Mission. RiderNews has all the deets on that deal. Former Smoke Eater Travis St. Denis is on the move again as well, he was traded from BCHL Cowichan Valley to BCHL Penticton in a three-team deal July 1st that saw another former Smokie, Mike Betz, head to Ontario.