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.