Friday, August 31, 2012

Centennials 4 Smoke Eaters 2

Sebastian Pare's empty-netter sealed a hat-trick, and a Centennials victory over a young Smokies squad in pre-season action tonight in Merritt.

The ex-Langley forward was dangerous offensively all night long, and was the difference as Merritt won for the first time in 3 tries during this exhibition campaign.

A scoreless first period featured some early fireworks. Cents forward Silvan Harper took offense to a check from behind on a teammate from Smokies defenseman Djordje Leposavic, dropping the mitts in a short bout that actually put Trail on a five-minute man-advantage.

Later in the period, rookie forward Anthony Conti went toe to toe with 20 year-old Sean Maktaak. Both sides landed bombs in a fight that had the Merritt crowd at a fever pitch.

The Centennials opened the scoring midway through the second after 16 year-old Rhett Willcox banged home a loose puck after a hectic scramble in front of the Trail net. Merritt struck again 27 seconds later as Pare wrapped around for his first tally of the game.

Shane Poulsen brought Trail back to within one before the end of period two, floating a wrister into the top corner through traffic.

An early one-timer from Pare on a Merritt power-play was cancelled out on a nifty deflection from Trail's Adam Wheeldon as the sides exchanged man-advantage goals early in the third. Pare's empty-net marker closed the scoring with 2.7 seconds left on the clock.

The mood is good as we rumble eastward on the bus, though. Trail had only 4 veterans dressed tonight and played much of the game with only five defensemen. Local Jake Lucchini was one of, if not Trail's best skater tonight. He earned an assist as well as it was his sharp wrister that was tipped home by Wheeldon in the third.

New goaltender Braden Krogfoss looked good as well, stopping all but two pucks he faced over half a game. The 17 year-old sees the puck well in traffic and will get better with each appearance. No doubt the consistent hard work put in by starter Lyndon Stanwood (who again was very strong this evening) will serve as mentorship too.

My 3 Stars:
1. Sebastian Pare, Merritt
2. Jake Lucchini, Trail
3. Rhett Willcox, Merritt

Up Next: The team will arrive home late tonight and get right back to work tomorrow with another date with the Cents. Tomorrow's pre-season finale starts at 7:30 at Cominco Arena and will be your first chance (and last for 20 days) to see the Smokies in action on home ice.


Trail: Stanwood, Krogfoss, Jenerou, Poulsen,  Leposavic, Clayton, McKinnon, Bruyckere, Baltus, Wheeldon, McGaughey, D. Holland, Flockhart, Davidson, Foyle, A. Holland, Lucchini, Jmaeff, Conti, Heinrich.
Merritt: T. Steel, Logan-Hill, Coish, Lisowsky, Martin, J. Steel, Harper, Huisman, Fletcher, Klinger, Soquila, Bruce, Maktaak, Huber, Pare, Cuglietta, Saunders, Willcox, Klimek, Patterson.

First Period
No scoring
Penalties: Pare MER (interference) 1:38; D. Holland TRA (roughing) 8:27; Leposavic TRA (checking from behind, game misconduct), Harper MER (instigating, fighting, game misconduct) 10:16; Conti TRA (hooking) 13:32; Conti TRA (boarding, fighting, game misconduct), Maktaak MER (instigating, fighting, game misconduct) 15:51; J. Steel MER (high-sticking) 16:58.

Second Period
1. MER Willcox (Huisman, Pare) 10:46
2. MER Pare (Bruce) 11:13
3. TRA Poulsen (Flockhart, Foyle) 15:49
Penalties: McKinnon TRA (high-sticking) 2:53; TRA bench (too many men, served by D. Holland) 5:52.

Third Period
4. MER Pare (Soquila, Huisman) 1:57 (pp)
5. TRA Wheeldon (Lucchini) 5:52 (pp)
6. MER Pare (unassisted) 19:57 (en)
Penalties: Heinrich TRA (double high-sticking), Coish MER (roughing) 0:28; D. Holland TRA (???) 2:59; Klinger MER (hooking) 5:45. 

Goal: Trail: Stanwood, Krogfoss (10:46 second); Merritt: T. Steel, Logan-Hill (10:46 second).
Power Play: Trail: 1/4; Merritt: 1/6.
Referees: Brandon Liefke, Brent Hazel
Attendance: N/A

Smokies/Centennials Lineups

Here are the line combinations for tonight's exhibition game between Trail and Merritt.

Smoke Eaters:
9 - Baltus, 23 - Jmaeff, 16 - Davidson
18 - A. Holland, 12 - D. Holland, 17 - Foyle
10 - Wheeldon, 20 - Lucchini, 25 - Heinrich
11 - McGaughey, 14 - Flockhart, 24 - Conti

7 - McKinnon, 4 - Poulsen
6 - Clayton, 5 - Leposavic
3 - Jenerou, 8 - Bruycker

33 - Stanwood
35 - Krogfoss

12 - Soquila, 9 - Huisman, 19 - Pare
8 - Harper, 14 - Bruce, 17 - Huber
11 - Klinger, 10 - Fletcher, 16 - Maktaak
25 - Willcox, 22 - Cuglietta, 28 - Patterson

2 - Coish, 6 - J. Steel
26 - Klimek, 24 - Saunders
4 - Martin, 3 - Lisowsky

35 - T. Steel
31 - Logan-Hill

Don't forget, you can listen to tonight's game on the Smoke Eaters Ustream channel. Join me for all the action beginning at 7:25 from the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.

Gameday: Smoke Eaters @ Centennials

Who: Trail Smoke Eaters @ Merritt Centennials
When: August 31, 7:30 PM
Where: Nicola Valley Memorial Arena, Merritt

After two full days in Merritt, the Smokies return to exhibition ice tonight in the front end of a home-and-home set with the Centennials. The team arrived in the Nicola Valley immediately after Wednesday's 4-0 defeat in Chase against the Prince George Spruce Kings, practiced yesterday and took a brief morning skate today.

The Smokies will ice a young lineup tonight, with vets Garrett McMullen, Tyler Berkholtz and Matt Alexander among a long list of scratches for tonight's pre-season affair. The Smokies have had a couple of new arrivals since Wednesday's game including 16 year-old blueliner Kyle Clayton: the 6'3" rearguard had been at Spokane Chiefs camp. Goaltender Braden Krogfoss is set to join the club this afternoon as well.

Local forward Scott Davidson will get another look on Trail's top line tonight. The 17 year-old has posted an assist in two pre-season appearances but has been buzzing around the opposition goal all week.

Our Opponent: The Cents are hoping to replicate last season's success, and boast a strong offensive core perhaps headlined by returnee Regan Soquila. The 19 year-old will be helped along by off-season acquisition Derek Huisman, who skated on Chilliwack's top line last year and tallied twice in a 5-5 tie Tuesday against Langley (the Cents most recent outing was a 3-1 loss in Hope Wednesday against the Chiefs). The back end will have a lot of new faces with only three returnees; former Smoke Eater Tim Coish could draw in tonight for Merritt. Third-year Centennial Tyler Steel will surely see the bulk of the action between the pipes this season after splitting duties last year with the now-graduated Lino Chimienti.

Broadcast Info: As will be the case all season long, catch tonight's game on the Smoke Eaters Ustream channel. Join me for the pre-game at 7:25 with tonight's opening faceoff set for 7:30.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Spruce Kings 4 Smoke Eaters 0

Prince George scored twice in each of the final two periods, and goaltender Kirk Thompson made 38 saves to preserve a 4-0 shutout win over the Smokies in Chase Wednesday.

Trail was unlucky to come away without a goal, as Thompson denied Smokies shooters repeatedly from start to finish, including a flurry of action on a lengthy 2-man advantage at the start of the third period.

The Smokies held a slight edge after a scoreless first period, outshooting Prince George 12-9 including chances at close range for Tyler Berkholtz, Scott Davidson and Brent Baltus.

The Spruce Kings opened the scoring 6:21 into period two, as ex-Regina Pat Lyndon Martell slotted home a snapper from a sharp angle on Trail starter Lyndon Stanwood. Sean Landrey would add a second Prince George goal with 1:54 left in the frame, firing a wrister into the top corner past the outstretched arm of Stanwood's replacement, Cody Boeckman.

Trail's best chance of the middle frame came courtesy of Alex Holland, who found time and space on a wraparound only to have Thompson slide across the crease for a desperation save.

Things got testy toward the end of the second as well after a check by Smokies forward Adam Wheeldon on hulking Prince George blueliner Bradley Ryan drew a crowd in front of the Trail bench Moments later the Spruce Kings committed a pair of quick penalties to give Trail a 1:34 five-on-three at the start of period three: despite firing 7 shots on goal, Thompson stood tall and kept Prince George's pre-season penalty-kill record perfect.

Martell would score his second goal of the night on a snapshot into the bottom left corner of the net midway through the third. The 19 year-old used his quick release after linemate Coltyn Hansen fed a pretty centring feed from the right-wing corner.

Bryant Christian would round out the scoring 1:23 later, putting home a loose puck in front of the Smokies goal.

Thompson really was though, the hero of the day for PG, as Trail enjoyed a 38-24 shots on goal advantage and forced the Spruce King netminder into several reaction saves.

My Three Stars:
1. Kirk Thompson, PGO
2. Lyndon Martell, PGO
3. Tyler Berkholtz, TRA

Up Next: The Smokies arrived in Merritt just before midnight and will enjoy an extra day in the Nicola Valley before Friday's game with the Centennials. The team will practice Thursday morning.


Trail: Stanwood, Boeckman, Alexander, Poulsen, Leposavic, Williams, Jones, Egli, Baltus, McCarthy, Berkholtz, Flockhart, Davidson, Foyle, A. Holland, Lucchini, Knapp, Wheeldon, McMullen, Conti.
Prince George: Thompson, Schoech, Charleson, Toor, Esau, Eden, Landrey, Luedtke, Board, Staley, Fjellstrom, Keis, Hansen, Christian, Witala, LeBrun, Disher, Martell, Ryan.

First Period
No scoring
Penalties: Williams TRA (tripping) 1:11; Jones TRA (checking to the head, misconduct), Esau PGO (roughing, misconduct) 19:42.

Second Period
1. PGO Martell (Staley) 6:21
2. PGO Landrey (Eden, Disher) 18:06
Penalties: Christian PGO (tripping) 16:07; McMullen TRA (hooking) 16:57; Charleson PGO (tripping) 19:34; Luedtke PGO (cross-checking) 19:55; Baltus TRA, Toor PGO (roughing) 20:00.

Third Period
3. PGO Martell (Hansen, Toor) 10:49 (pp)
4. PGO Christian (LeBrun, Fjellstrom) 12:11
Penalties: Leposavic TRA (slashing) 2:58; Alexander TRA, Landrey PGO (fighting, game misconduct) 7:52; Keis PGO (high-sticking) 7:58; Poulsen TRA (high-sticking) 9:53; Baltus TRA, Luedtke PGO (roughing) 17:29. 

Shots On Goal: Trail: 12-10-16-38; Prince George: 9-8-7-24.
Goal: Trail: Stanwood (11-10), Boeckman (9:17 second); Prince George: Thompson.
Power Play: Trail: 0/4; Prince George: 1/4.
Referee: Brandon Liefke
Attendance: N/A

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Smokies/Spruce Kings Lineups

Here are the line combinations for tonight's game between Trail and Prince George at the Art Holding Memorial Arena in Chase.

Smoke Eaters:
9 - Baltus, 23 - McMullen, 16 - Davidson
18 - A. Holland, 12 - Berkholtz, 11 - McCarthy
14 - Flockhart, 21 - Knapp, 22 - Wheeldon
24 - Conti, 20 - Lucchini, 17 - Foyle

5 - Leposavic, 4 - Poulsen
3 - Alexander, 7 - Jones
8 - Egli, 6 - Williams

33 - Stanwood
35 - Boeckman

Spruce Kings
12 - Board, 11 - Luedtke, 14 - Staley
17 - Hansen, 19 - Witala, 22 - Martell
21 - Disher, 16 - Keis, 8 - Landrey
15 - Fjellstrom, 18 - Christian, 20 - LeBrun

7 - Eden, 24 - Ryan
6 - Esau, 3 - Charleson
4 - Toor, 2 - Schoech

1 - Thompson
35 - McLeod

To listen to tonight's game, click here. The live audio broadcast from Chase begins at 6:55.

Gameday: Smoke Eaters vs. Spruce Kings

Who: Trail Smoke Eaters vs Prince George Spruce Kings
When: August 29, 7:00 pm
Where: Art Holding Arena, Chase

The back end of a neutral-site double-header goes tonight in Chase with the Smokies looking to earn a split with the Prince George Spruce Kings. PG scored a late third-period winner to upend Trail 2-1 last night in each team's pre-season opener.

Expect a few changes in Trail's lineup tonight, especially on the back end. Veterans Djordje Leposavic, Brandon Egli and Matt Alexander did not play last night, I wouldn't be surprised to see all 3 slot in this evening.

Trail also received some good news on the WHL front, as goaltender Braden Krogfoss and forward Anthony Conti are both on their way from Kamloops and Calgary respectively. Conti could dress tonight while Krogfoss will likely meet the team in Merritt later this week.

Our Opponent: The Spruce Kings will dress ex-Regina Pat Lyndon Martell up front as one of several changes to their lineup. Castlegar Rebels forward Kody Disher, who scored yesterday should also remain in. 20 year-old Kirk Thompson watched 16 year-old counterpart Liam McLeod stop 23 of 24 shots yesterday, expect the vet between the pipes tonight. We could also get a look at overage blueliner Bradley Ryan, the hulking d-man in the mold of former Smokie Ben Matthews was acquired from Ontario in the off-season.

Broadcast Info: After tag-teaming with Spruce Kings voice Ron Gallo last night, odds are on there being a proper Smoke Eaters audio feed this evening. Watch the blog and my Twitter (@wahlsy) for more details closer to game-time.

Sent wirelessly from my BlackBerry device on the Bell network.
Envoyé sans fil par mon terminal mobile BlackBerry sur le réseau de Bell.

Spruce Kings 2 Smoke Eaters 1

Jeremiah Luedtke put home the game-winner in the dying moments of the third period to lift Prince George to a 2-1 victory over Trail Tuesday in Chase.

The Spruce Kings forward hopped on a loose puck in the Smoke Eaters slot to break a 1-1 tie at the 18:38 mark of period three.

Trail opened the scoring on a sharp wrister from Brent Baltus 5:47 into the first period; the 20 year-old took a pass from linemate Scott Davidson and rifled a shot blocker-side on Spruce Kings goaltender Liam McLeod.

Prince George tied the game on a 5-on-3 later in the opening frame. Forward Kody Disher converted a swift, cross-crease feed from Bryant Christian ten minutes after Baltus' goal.

Quality offensive chances were few and far between after Disher's equalizer, despite the Spruce Kings firing 21 shots at the Trail goal in the first period alone. The cozy Art Holding Arena made for plenty of close checking, plenty of board play, and plenty of power-plays as the two sides split 13 man-advantage opportunities.

Trail's Lyndon Stanwood started the game between the pipes, but was replaced midway through the 2nd period after stopping 26 of 27 shots. Backup Cody Boeckman parried aside 11 of the 12 Spruce King efforts he faced.

16 year-old McLeod went the distance for Prince George, making 23 saves including a reach-behind, desperation stop with his left arm on Smokies forward Bryce Knapp midway through the third period.

I liked the effort put out by Trail's Wayland Williams on the back end. The Michigan product seems to be settling into his new environment and made several key defensive plays, moving the puck well as well. Speaking of defensive plays, I'd be remiss not to mention the sliding block made by Garrett McMullen midway through the second period off a hard slapper from Trevor Esau, while local product Jake Lucchini collaborated well with Knapp, especially in the latter parts of the contest. Prince George defenseman Mitch Eden came as advertised and to me was Prince George's best player, logging a ton of minutes and quarterbacking each of the Spruce Kings' 8 power-plays.

Up Next: A return engagement against Prince George tomorrow in Chase. Faceoff again is at 7:00.


Trail: Stanwood, Boeckman, Bruyckere, Poulsen, McKinnon, Williams, Jones, Jenerou, Baltus, McCaughey, D. Holland, Flockhart, Davidson, Foyle, A. Holland, Lucchini, Knapp, Wheeldon, McMullen, Heinrich.
Prince George: McLeod, Schoech, London, Bendall, Esau, Eden, Cramer, Luedtke, Board, Staley, Fjellstrom, Keis, Butcher, Christian, Witala, LeBrun, Disher, Hards, O'Briain.

First Period
1. TRA Baltus (Davidson) 5:47
2. PGO Disher (Christian) 15:56 (pp)
Penalties: McCaughey TRA (interference) 8:45; Witala PGO (interference) 11:41; D. Holland TRA (holding) 14:26; Williams TRA (roughing) 15:12; Wheeldon TRA (checking from behind, game misconduct), Keis PGO (cross-checking) 17:32; London PGO (holding) 18:19.

Second Period
No scoring
Penalties: LeBrun PGO (goaltender interference) 1:53; D. Holland TRA (cross-checking) 5:43; Foyle TRA (boarding) 7:06.

Third Period
3. PGO Luedtke (Butcher, Staley) 18:38
Penalties: Fjellstrom PGO (interference) 1:29; O'Briain PGO, McKinnon TRA, McCaughey TRA (roughing) 4:34; Jones TRA (roughing) 7:06; Bendall PGO (holding) 9:50; Heinrich TRA (boarding) 12:39. 

Shots On Goal: Trail: 10-7-7-24; Prince George: 21-10-8-39.
Goal: Trail: Stanwood (27-26), Boeckman (9:52 second); Prince George: McLeod.
Power Play: Trail: 0/5; Prince George: 1/8.
Referee: Nick Swaine
Attendance: N/A

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Smokies/Spruce Kings Broadcast

Please note, tonight's game will not be available on the usual Smoke Eaters Ustream channel.

To watch tonight's game with Ron Gallo and myself at 7 pm, visit

Apologies for the short notice, enjoy the game everyone!

Sent wirelessly from my BlackBerry device on the Bell network.
Envoyé sans fil par mon terminal mobile BlackBerry sur le réseau de Bell.

Gameday: Smoke Eaters vs. Spruce Kings

Who: Trail Smoke Eaters vs. Prince George Spruce Kings
When: August 28, 7:00 PM
Where: Art Holding Arena, Chase

At long last, the Smoke Eaters kick off their exhibition schedule tonight in the first of a two-game series against Prince George.

The Smokies are running with an (approximate) 25-man roster with an eye on giving several players some long looks this week.

I haven't yet glanced at Trail's lineup for tonight's game, but I'd imagine a mix of vets and rookies will hit the ice this evening, and with only two goaltenders currently with the team expect Lyndon Stanwood to see some action in the Shuswap.

Our Opponent: The Spruce Kings are dressing only 2 20 year-olds tonight in defenseman Trevor Esau and netminder Kirk Thompson. PG will have a much different look this season with offensive sparkplugs Paul De Jersey, Jujhar Khaira and former Smokies blueliner Ben Matthews headlining a list of departed players. Prince George has though, been active in the trade market including a blockbuster with Victoria that sees the pesky Fitzgerald triplets head south, and other deals have brought several Ontario products north to PG.

Broadcast Info: Both myself and Spruce Kings play-caller Ron Gallo are planning on broadcasting both games in Chase, watch this space for more details closer to puck drop.

Sent wirelessly from my BlackBerry device on the Bell network.
Envoyé sans fil par mon terminal mobile BlackBerry sur le réseau de Bell.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Main Camp Wrap

Smokies main camp is done and dusted, after Team Blue avoided a three-game sweep at the hands of Team White in this morning's final at Cominco Arena.

After 5-4 and 10-2 losses Saturday, 2012-13 captain Garrett McMullen fired home a pair of third period goals to lift Blue to a 5-2 win Sunday. Matt Reed, Bryce Knapp and Mike Rand also tallied for Blue while White got goals from Alex Holland and Dallas Flockhart. All the scoring came in the second half of the game, as for the second time in three outings returning goaltender Lyndon Stanwood did not surrender a goal.

Of the three scrimmages, Saturday night's 10-2 affair was easily the most heated, and after a busy weekend (almost week for some players), it wasn't all that surprising to see the physicality toned down somewhat Sunday. One thing is for certain, this year's group is talented and should put on an exciting, hard-working show night in, night out this season.

Returning forward Brent Baltus' name popped up time and time again all week long. The Vancouver Island product seems bigger, faster, and much more aggressive in the offensive end. Main camp linemate Scott Davidson didn't look at all out of place either, despite missing most of 2011-12. The Trail product created a lot of space for his line as they attacked and was just as tenacious in the other two zones of the ice. Fellow Trail native Jake Lucchini scored a hat-trick Saturday night and skated well too.

White's Alex Holland (acquired from Victoria via Penticton in the Sam Mellor deal) brought a younger, smaller doppelganger to camp in younger brother Dan. The Massachusetts natives both have great acceleration and can pick corners on the rush. Speaking of picking corners, Tanner Clarkson has arrived in the West Kootenay with a lot more confidence. The 19 year-old had one of, if not the best shot on the team last year and used it a fair amount this week.

I liked Tyler Berkholtz's game all week too. In addition to his vision, I was impressed by the 20 year-old's commitment to the defensive zone. Oddly enough, the former Alberni Valley Bulldog has never played a BCHL game in Trail through three years in the league, but seemed to be working out the unique characteristics of the Cominco Arena as the week progressed. He worked really well with returnee Adam Wheeldon too, and wasn't shy about standing up for his teammates, scrapping twice through the weekend.

Returning defensemen Shane Poulsen, Joren Johnson and Brandon Egli are all back a year older and wiser. Poulsen's size and reach serve him well, while Johnson showed he can have a bit of a nasty side to him when confronted physically. Egli is as speedy and scrappy as ever and played as a forward for half of Sunday's intrasquad game.

So too did newcomer Matt Alexander. The 6-foot-3 Ontario product (acquired in a trade last week) tried to put his stamp on the team early by taking a run at Wheeldon during a drill, but also showed some creative vision on the power-play, from point shots to nifty deflections (I'm told he was a forward until bantam). Fellow new arrival Braeden Jones is also sure to ruffle feathers this season in the BCHL, if this week (and spring camp in April) is any indication.

Stanwood was sharp between the pipes, allowing only two goals in three appearances (as mentioned earlier). Some of his best work came while short-handed, and he demonstrated much of the same quickness and compete level that impressed Smokies brass last season. The West Vancouverite has changed up his look as well with a sharp-looking set of new pads and mask.

What's Next?: After 40-odd players took part in main camp this weekend, we'll see a roster of 25 or 26 hop on the bus Tuesday morning for a four-day road trip. Trail will face Prince George twice in Chase Tuesday and Wednesday night before a date with the Centennials in Merritt Friday. The pre-season concludes Saturday night with a return engagement against the Cents at Cominco Arena. Trail's early schedule includes lots of travel with trips to Chilliwack and Prince George on tap for September, to me the time away will serve as a great opportunity for all the new faces to gel ahead of the grind of the BCHL season.

Bits n' Bites: Two of Trail's three alternate captains have been decided: Berkholtz and Wheeldon will don the "A" alongside newly-minted captain McMullen. A third alternate will be voted on by the players. Broadcast details in Chase will be more available Tuesday afternoon, as I'm told Prince George play-caller Ron Gallo will be making the trip to the Shuswap as well. Stay tuned to Off the Wahl and my Twitter account (@wahlsy) for more details.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Rookie Camp Thoughts; Smokies Main Camp Begins Today

Two days are now firmly in the books as prospective Smokies strutted their stuff at Cominco Arena Wednesday and Thursday. Unlike a main camp last year which produced a dearth of offense, this year's rookie camp featured plenty of goals and the development of some new chemistry among veteran skaters.

First off, it was great to see so many returning (and newly-acquired) players take part in the two-day session. Overage forward Brent Baltus showed plenty of jump and new energy as he looks to build off a 2011-12 season that saw his offensive production grow with each passing month. Baltus skated mostly on a line with new captain Garrett McMullen, the pair were dangerous on every shift on a team Red side that was anchored at the back end by vets Brandon Egli and Joren Johnson.

Team Blue received a late arrival Wednesday in the form of Tanner Clarkson, who scored twice on his first two shifts. The 19 year-old possesses one of the better shots of all of Trail's returnees, and put it to good use early, threading a needle short-side into the top left-hand corner on a snapper from the face-off circle.

Team Yellow had easily the two biggest surprises of rookie camp. Albertan forward Ravi Chand fired home five goals in his first scrimmage before tailing off offensively through the rest of the two-day session. Local product Scott Davidson grew stronger as each game passed. The 17 year-old missed most of last season but in 11 games in Beaver Valley put home 14 points (adding 1-5-6 in 13 playoff appearances). Soft hands aside (Davidson chipped in four assists in last night's rookie All-Star game), he also played with a physical edge and could be one to watch this weekend.

Another combination to keep mind of out of Yellow's team was a newly-formed chemistry between newcomer Tyler Berkholtz and Adam Wheeldon. Berkholtz, a 20 year-old who skated the past three seasons with Alberni Valley, was instrumental in most of Wheeldon's 8 rookie camp goals, and the pair worked well together to create space in the offensive zone as well as to win battles along the boards. On the back end, Edmonton's Braeden Jones carried on with the physical style he showed in spring camp. The 18 year-old is a good skater and is very calm in his own zone too.

Fans at last night's All-Star Game also got their first look at new recruit Bryce Knapp. The Ontario native showed a good amount of energy despite spending most of the day traveling, and used his quick release to fire home a goal in the second period.

Friday's on-ice schedule for main camp consists of a pair of practices this afternoon. The annual orange and white intrasquad game is set for Sunday morning at 11. For a full camp schedule, click here.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

McMullen Named New Smokies Captain

New Smokies captain Garrett McMullen tucks home a goal against Merritt (Randy Emery photo)

The Trail Smoke Eaters have named their new captain: soon-to-be 20-year-old forward Garrett McMullen will don the "C" for the orange and black this year after putting up 36 points (17-19) in his rookie BCHL season last year.

McMullen, from Rochester, New York, came to Trail early in the season from the Powell River Kings and was one of the hardest-working players on last year's squad. His positive attitude and demeanor on and off the ice will serve this club well as it grows toward the start of the 2012-13 season.

The full release from the team is available here.

I also chatted with McMullen last night after a rookie-camp scrimmage (I'll have more on rookie camp in a wrap this evening), you can listen to that conversation here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Smokies Camp Begins Today

It's finally here. After five months and eleven days the Smoke Eaters hit the ice this afternoon to begin preparations for the 2012-13 BCHL season.

This season's training camp will have a bit of a different twist from years past, in that the coaching staff has added a two-day rookie camp in advance of a three-day main camp beginning on Friday. Nonetheless, Trail's vets have already, or are in the midst of traveling to the West Kootenay. I wouldn't be surprised to see some of them around the rink today.

For a run-down on what to expect from rookie camp and a full listing of ice-times, click here. I hope to have the main camp schedule posted in short order too.

No question today marks a transition from deathly silence to (just about) non-stop action in terms of the on-ice product. A four-day trip to Chase and Merritt next week will cover the majority of the pre-season schedule (the only home date being next Saturday, September 1 against the Cents). The conclusion of the pre-season will see Trail have almost a full week of practice before departing for Chilliwack for the inaugural Save-On Foods BCHL Showcase. I'm sure I'm not alone in saying I can't wait.

Stay tuned to the blog through the week for commentary and audio reaction from players and coaches alike as training camp kicks into high gear.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Smokies Rookie Camp Around The Corner

The unofficial start of the season is now only twelve days away, with the Smoke Eaters' two-day rookie camp set to get underway at the Cominco Arena the morning of August 22nd. The Smokies continue to have openings available for prospects interested in taking part at a cost of $150 (download a registration form here).

For those players who are already signed up, check-in time has been set for 10:00 on the morning of the 22nd in the arena lobby, with ice-times to follow. The Smoke Eaters main camp will begin the morning of August 24th and run through Sunday, August 26th.

EDIT: I've now been told openings at Trail's rookie camp are for SKATERS only, all goaltending positions are full.

Programming Note: I can now confirm all four Smoke Eaters exhibition games (in addition to all 56 home and away regular-season games and any playoffs) will be on our Ustream channel, beginning August 28th in Chase against the Prince George Spruce Kings. Special thanks to the KIJHL's Chase Heat for hosting us and PG for the two-game set later this month and allowing me the use of their booth.