Friday, June 29, 2012

Camp Dates, Exhibition Schedule Released

The 2012-13 season got a couple of steps closer with the release of training camp and exhibition schedule details this week.

New this year, a two-day rookie camp set for August 22nd-23rd at Cominco Arena, in advance of the three-day main camp beginning August 24th. The week will mark the first chance for fans to get a glimpse of who will make up the 2012-13 roster, and a chance for players to fight for their spot on this year's team.

More details and a camp schedule will be made public in August.

Trail's four-game exhibition schedule includes only one home date at the Cominco Arena after the discontinuing of the pre-season tournament usually slated for the Labour Day weekend.

Here's how the pre-season shakes down:

August 28: Trail vs. Prince George (at Chase, BC)
August 29: Trail vs. Prince George (at Chase, BC)
August 31: Trail @ Merritt
September 1: Merritt @ Trail

I can confirm the two Merritt games will definitely be part of my full-season broadcast package, and internet-willing, the two-pack in Chase will be as well.

I'm told the regular-season schedule (which of course begins with games against Cowichan Valley and Merritt September 8th and 9th at the BCHL Showcase in Chilliwack) should be released in short order. Trail will welcome each of the other 15 BCHL clubs to Cominco Arena at least once this season, after Langley, Surrey, Cowichan Valley and Powell River did not visit during the 2011-12 campaign.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bertolucci to Edmonton

Luke Bertolucci attacks the Vernon net in a game last November (Randy Emery photo)

Smoke Eaters forward Luke Bertolucci has signed with the Western Hockey League's Edmonton Oil Kings. The defending WHL champs announced the deal today (read here) and the Montrose product will join the club at their main camp in late August.

Bertolucci was the lone 16 year-old on Trail's roster last season and put up 18 points (3-15) in 47 games in 2011-12.

He was Edmonton's 10th round selection (200th overall) in the 2010 WHL bantam draft, and played with current Oil Kings Curtis Lazar and Tristan Jarry on the Team BC squad that won gold at the 2011 Canada Winter Games.

I haven't had the chance to chat with Bertolucci as of yet, but he tweeted this morning that he's "very excited for the opportunity." He could well be on his way to a breakout season after being sidelined with a pair of injuries late in the season when it appeared as though he was gaining confidence each time he stepped on the ice.

Congrats "Bert," and best of luck in Oil Country!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ex-Smokie Baker To Attend Canucks Development Camp

A Westside Warrior peers over Jake Baker's shoulder during a December 2010 game at Cominco Arena (Randy Emery photo)

Former Smoke Eater, and current Northern Michigan University Wildcat Jake Baker will be one of 35 players at this weekend's Vancouver Canucks prospect development camp. The four-day camp kicks off Thursday and will include on and off-ice workouts around the city.

Jim Jamieson of The Province has more here.

Baker, a native of Port Moody, finished his BCHL career in Trail during the 2010-11 season after an early-season trade from Victoria, scoring 23 points (5-18) in 32 games. He also spent time with the Centennials, Clippers and Grizzlies before joining NMU this past fall.

Way to go Jake!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Birks On AGM Tidbits

After last weekend's annual general meeting, the BCHL has announced several changes for the 2012-13 season, including the release of the 2012 Showcase schedule as mentioned on this blog earlier this week. Trail will face Cowichan Valley and Merritt at the inaugural, league-wide event September 8th and 9th.

Also coming out of the league meetings was confirmation that BCHL rosters will be bumped back up to 22 from 21, as well as a playoff format that will see the top four teams from each of the league's three divisions advance to post-season play.

I chatted with head coach/GM Bill Birks on Monday for his take on a couple of AGM-related items. To hear his comments, click here.

Pre-Season Tourney Scrapped: As a result of the Showcase and what would have amounted to significant travel for some teams in a short time-frame, the Smokies will not be hosting a pre-season tournament this fall. Trail welcomed the Powell River Kings, AJHL Brooks Bandits and NAHL Wenatchee Wild to Cominco Arena last September, while in the past the Penticton Vees have also taken part. There's still a likelihood the team could schedule a home game or two as part of its pre-season schedule but nothing has been firmed up yet.

Lazer Beam: The Nelson Star touched on their local U18 soccer teams' Kootenay championship over the weekend, but I'll admit I had no idea Smokies defenseman Joren Johnson featured as a striker during his time away from the rink. To read more about Nelson's win, click here.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Smokies' Showcase Opponents Confirmed

The BCHL has released the schedule for the inaugural Showcase, being hosted by Chilliwack September 7-9. The three-day event serves as the official opening to the 2012-13 season, and we've known for some time Trail will play one "home" and one "away" game at Prospera Centre over the weekend.

What we know now is who the Smokies will be facing in the Fraser Valley. Trail will open their season "away" to former bench boss Jim Ingram and the Cowichan Valley Capitals Saturday, September 8th at 6:30 PM, before "hosting" the Merritt Centennials Sunday afternoon, September 9th at 2:30.

The remainder of the BCHL schedule will open the following weekend, with the Smokies playing 27 times at Cominco Arena over the course of the 2012-13 season. The rest of the schedule has been for the most part hammered out I'm told, but won't be released for a few weeks yet.

Winds of Change: I'm happy to announce that I'm taking on a full-time role with the Smokies as director of marketing. I can't say enough how pleased I am that the team was able to create the opportunity for me, and even though it means a step away from radio news and sports it's one I couldn't pass up. From a coverage perspective, I'm excited to try a few new things for next season, and giddy to be able to call all 28 away regular-season games in 2012-13.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Proulx To Selkirk; Birks Talks Trade

A big congrats to Trail's Logan Proulx for committing to the Selkirk Saints hockey program. The former Smokies captain split last season between Trail and Cowichan Valley, scoring 17 times and joins the Saints as their 14th new commit for 2012-13. Prior to his time in the BCHL, Proulx spent three seasons with the WHL's Edmonton Oil Kings.

The full release from Selkirk College is available here.

I caught up with Logan Friday afternoon to get his thoughts on the decision, his time in Duncan and more. To listen, click here.

Coach's Comments: I chatted with Smokies bench boss Bill Birks about yesterday's trade that sees Trail acquire defenseman Max Mowat from the Vernon Vipers. To listen click here.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Smokies Acquire Mowat From Vernon

The Smoke Eaters have bolstered their blueline by acquiring 19 year-old rearguard Max Mowat from the Vernon Vipers.

Mowat, who represents the future considerations that were owed Trail from the Clayton Chessa trade in January, has tallied 25 points (3-22) through 2 BCHL seasons with the Vipers, and was a member of the Vernon team that reached the RBC Cup final in 2011.

The full release from the team is available here.

I chatted with head coach Bill Birks earlier this afternoon, he tells me Mowat will be counted on as a leader and mentor both on and off the ice, and will figure prominently on Trail's special teams units come the start of the 2012-13 season.

Mowat joins fellow Okanagan product Marley Keca as Trail's two 1993-born defensemen.

Welcome to the Smokies Max!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Smokies Complete Four Transactions

The Smokies made several deals Thursday involving clubs in the BCHL, AJHL and SJHL.

First, Trail shipped forward Brandon Long to the SJHL's Battlefords North Stars for future considerations.

20 year-old Taylor House and 18 year-old Kyle Horsman are off to the newly-minted Whitecourt Wolverines of the AJHL. The House move completes an earlier transaction (involving Whitecourt's former incarnation, the St. Albert Steel) while Horsman heads north for futures.

Hulking forward Adam Fares has been acquired by the Prince George Spruce Kings.

The full release from the team is here.

I chatted with Smokies head coach/GM Bill Birks about the moves yesterday afternoon, listen to that conversation here.

It's quite obvious the Smoke Eaters are well in the process of re-tooling for next season, and listening to coach's comments he's of the opinion that a tweaking of the roster is necessary in order to climb back into the Interior Conference playoff picture. I'll echo his thoughts that all four departing players are quality individuals and had some memorable moments in black and orange, from Long's overtime winner in Surrey to House's February scrap against Westside. Horsman scored a whale of a goal in Merritt on the last weekend of the season and showed steady improvement after a wrist injury suffered on opening weekend. Fares appeared in only 15 games with Trail but still managed 9 points, including a goal and a scrap on his debut.

All the best Brandon, Taylor, Kyle and Adam!