Knowler made 57 appearances in the WHL with Prince Albert last season (photo from raiderhockey.com).
The Smokies' early-season roster-tinkering continued Thursday with a pair of new forwards added to the mix. Trail has picked up 18 year-old Castlegar native Jesse Knowler after he was re-assigned by the Western Hockey League's Prince Albert Raiders earlier in the week. Knowler played 57 games last season with Prince Albert but might be better known among junior hockey enthusiasts in this neck of the woods for his effort with the Castlegar Rebels during the 2011 KIJHL playoffs, in which he tallied 17 points (including 4 game-winning goals) in 19 games as a 16 year-old. Knowler will be a welcome addition to Trail's forward punch to be sure.
Also in town is 19 year-old Illinois import Luke Sandler, who the Smokies acquired yesterday from Cowichan Valley for the rights to Travis Stephens. Sandler had 3 points in 4 appearances with the Caps this year and brings with him 75 games of USHL experience in Des Moines, Fargo and Tri-City. At 6'2", the Chicago native will also provide some size and grit down the left wing for Trail.
To make room for Sandler and Knowler, the Smokies re-assigned forward Brenden Heinrich to the Rebels.
Both new skaters are expected in the lineup for tomorrow night's home opener against West Kelowna, as the Smokies enter a stretch of 8 games that sees them face only the Warriors, Vernon Vipers, Powell River Kings, and Penticton Vees. There are no easy games in this league for sure, and I know everyone within the club would like nothing more than to see a big crowd at Cominco tomorrow night as the journey continues.