Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Smokies Acquire Pair Of Vets

News broke yesterday, and was made official late yesterday afternoon, that the Smoke Eaters were involved in a mammoth trade with the Penticton Vees that sees former star Sam Mellor head to the Okanagan. Trail receives 20 year-old forward Alex Holland, 20 year-old defenseman Djordje Leposavic and future considerations from the Vees for Mellor, who is returning to the BCHL for his overage season after spending last year in the NCAA at Alaska-Anchorage.

The official release from the Smokies is available here, and Vees broadcaster Fraser Rodgers breaks down the entire day's work from Penticton's perspective (which might help explain how Trail gets a Grizzlie and a Trapper in the deal) here.

To me, the trade is a win for the Smokies. I'm sure head coach
Bill Birks' phone was ringing off the hook when word surfaced that Mellor was contemplating a return to Junior A. To turn an all-star asset into two, and possibly three pieces that the Smoke Eaters can use immediately helps immensely too. Holland is a Massachusetts native who is committed to Merrimack for the fall of 2013, while Leposavic is returning to his home province after a Second All-Star team performance last season in the NOJHL. 

All the best in Penticton Sam, and welcome to Trail Alex and Djordje!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

2012-13 Schedule Released

The winter ahead became much more clear earlier today with the release of the 2012-13 BCHL schedule. We already knew Trail would begin its 18th season in the BCHL Saturday, September 8th in Chilliwack with a matchup against Cowichan Valley, but the rest of the post-BCHL Showcase details are now public knowledge.

The team release pertaining to the news is available on the Smokies website, with a printable version of the sked available here.

At first blush, there are a few things that definitely jump out to me, the first being the fact Trail will face the Penticton Vees in each of the final FOUR games of the regular season. That particular quirk could really spark a rivalry between the two sides and (prognostication aside) could even serve as a playoff preview given four of the six teams in the Interior will qualify for the playoffs.

The Smokies also get to start the season on the road. Ideally, trips to Chase and Merritt (pre-season), Chilliwack for Showcase and Prince George and Merritt the following weekend will let the 2012-13 crew grow together and get any start-of-season jitters out of the way before the home opener September 21st against West Kelowna. It could also help the younger players (and remind the vets) of the reality that is travel in this league, with this team. The fact Trail plays only two away games (one at West Kelowna, one at Penticton) between February 2nd and the season-finale March 10th acts as a nice counter-balance at a time of the year when typically bodies are sore.

Trail will also enjoy a sixteen-day layoff during the holiday season, with the last game in December set for the 18th (home vs. Merritt) and the first of the New Year not until January 4th (home vs. Surrey).

The travel enthusiast in me is also excited to be visiting each of the other 15 BCHL rinks this season (especially having made it to only 7 away sites under last year's arrangements). Expect a lot more interactive content from the road on the blog this year, and of course I hope to have you aboard for the online broadcasts this season as well.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Smokies Add Veteran Forwards

The Smoke Eaters have added a pair of vets in separate transactions to kick off July, both of whom should add considerable depth to an ever-growing core.

First, Trail picked up 20 year-old Tyler Berkholtz from Alberni Valley for future considerations. The Penticton product appeared in 47 games last season, scoring 32 points and tallied 20 times as an 18 year-old in his second of three seasons with the Bulldogs. Berkholtz joins Garrett McMullen, Connor Tiechko and Brent Baltus as 20 year-old forwards on the evolving Trail roster.

The Smokies have also snagged 19 year-old Ontario product Austin Adduono from the now-defunct Dawson Creek Rage of the NAHL. Adduono scored 22 points in the US circuit last season (split between the Rage and Wichita Falls Wildcats), but led the Superior International Junior League (SIJHL) in scoring with 72 points as a 17 year-old with the Wisconsin Wilderness in 2010-11.

For the full release from the team, click here.

Editor's note: for readers who have come to expect full audio interviews on this blog, please be patient. I'm in the process of setting up a home office which will have some recording capability, but for the time being I'm on mute, so to speak. I hope to track down both new players soon.