A mood of anticipation and excitement at Cominco Arena this weekend for the Smokies' annual spring camp.
About 70 players took part in the three-day session with an eye on catching the attention of Trail's brass ahead of the always-busy summer recruiting season.
I chatted with several returning players who were on hand over the weekend for their thoughts on camp, as well as the sense of anticipation about next season.
For Shane Poulsen, click here.
For Joren Johnson, click here.
For Brandon Egli, click here.
For Adam Wheeldon, click here.
For graduating Smokies captain Clayton McEwan, click here.
For AP draft selection Mitch Foyle, click here.
As many as 20 players from this weekend's camp could be invited back to Trail for main camp in August, but the Smokies have already received commitments from a pair of prospects.
17 year-old forward Brenden Heinrich spent last season with the KIJHL's Castlegar Rebels (14-18-32 during regular season, 5-11-16 in playoffs), and also played a handful of games at the BCHL level with Trail. The Boswell product is a smart, smooth-skating forward who didn't look out of place in a two-way role during his time as a Smokies callup, and centred Castlegar's second line in the playoffs this past season.
Fellow '94 product, defenseman Braeden Jones will also be back in Trail this August after putting on an impressive show over the weekend. Jones put up 10 points (5-5) with the Edmonton Knights of Columbus Pats midget AAA program last season, and stood out on his side's back end this past weekend. Jones is a quick skater who makes hard, smart plays in his own end, and isn't afraid to get a bit mean in front of his own goal either.