Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Hambrook To Hamilton College

Graduating Smokies defenseman Bennett Hambrook is off to Hamilton College next fall. The 21 year-old will play NCAA Division III hockey for the next four years in upstate New York after a four-year junior career that included three seasons in the BCHL.

Hambrook, from Kimberley, joined the Smokies from Salmon Arm in mid-November (at the time, he was the SilverBacks' captain). Eleven of his eighteen career BCHL points came in the 29 games he played with Trail this season. The ex-Nelson Leaf actually began his BCHL career as a Smokie, making 2 appearances as a call-up in 2009-10.

The full release from the team is here.

Hamilton College, which recently placed #16 in the United States in a US News and World Report ranking of national liberal arts colleges, is getting a heck of a player and person. I've never seen the kind of outpouring of well-wishes from players, coaches and staff as I saw from the SilverBacks when the deal to bring Hambrook here was finalized last November; I think everyone within the Smoke Eaters organization understood why rather quickly. Hambrook's heart and determination on the ice, and professional attitude and leadership qualities off it, will continue to serve him well as he continues on to college this fall. I'd expect that he'll be just as good an ambassador for the Continentals as he was with the Smoke Eaters.

Congratulations and all the best "Hammy!"

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Smokies Kelowna Camp Info

After a two-day spring camp at the Cominco Arena over the holiday weekend, the Smokies are now looking ahead to a summer session that will be held June 28-30 in Kelowna.

I'm told the team is looking to fill four teams (80 or so players) to run a reasonable, manageable event for skaters and goaltenders alike to showcase their skills. The camp will be held at the Capital News Centre.

More information (including a registration form) is available on the Smoke Eaters website.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Smokies Add To Coaching Staff

The Smoke Eaters' 2013-14 coaching staff will have one new face, and one familiar face in an augmented role.

First, Barry Zanier has signed on as a full-time assistant after spending the past eleven years as a part-timer. Zanier, a former junior and senior Smoke Eater, has been balancing work with the hockey club along with work as a school-teacher in Rossland.

The Smokies have also hired Craig Clare as an assistant coach. Clare, who was co-Rookie of the Year in the BCHL's Interior Conference as a Smoke Eater in 1998, has been coaching locally within Greater Trail Minor Hockey, most recently at the bantam level.

The full release from the team is here.

At first blush, both hirings look to me like solid moves from the Smoke Eaters standpoint. Zanier already knows the team and the day-to-day operations of the club inside-out, and provides a calming, yet authoritative voice both on the bench and in the dressing room.

Clare, meanwhile, already has a great read on up-and-coming local talent through his work in minor hockey. His three-year BCHL career (two seasons with Trail, one with Victoria) will serve as valuable experience too.

Congrats Barry, and welcome aboard Craig!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Ex-Smokie DeKeyser Makes NHL Debut

Former Smoke Eaters defenseman Dan DeKeyser cracked an NHL lineup for the first time Friday, making his professional debut with the Detroit Red Wings in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche.

DeKeyser logged a total of 16:36 of ice-time (with 95 seconds on the PK) and was an even plus-minus in Detroit's 3-2 OT win over the Avalanche.

DeKeyser, from Detroit, spent the 2008-09 season in Trail scoring 7 power-play goals and 25 overall points in 58 games with the Smokies. He left for the USHL after one year and following a season with the Sioux City Muskateers developed into one of the top college free-agents during three seasons at Western Michigan University.

The full release from the team is available here.

Surely, DeKeyser's debut is cause for celebration for the Smokies. He becomes the seventh Junior "A" Smoke Eater (counting four seasons in the late, great RMJHL) to appear in an NHL game, and the first since Brett Skinner played 11 games with the New York Islanders in 2008-09. It's yet another example of how players CAN come to smaller BCHL markets like Trail and move on to the highest levels of hockey.

Congrats Danny, and here's to many more NHL memories!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Baltus To Michigan Tech

The Interior Conference MVP has changed his travel itinerary for September. Brent Baltus, who verbally committed to Alaska-Anchorage last November, has agreed to join their conference rival Michigan Tech Huskies after the Seawolves elected not to renew the contract of their head coach last week.

The official word from the team is available here.

At Michigan Tech, Baltus joins a very impressive list of recruits including Edmonton Oilers draftee Jujhar Khaira, former Smokies AP and current Merritt blueliner Dane Birks and Surrey's super sophomore Demico Hannoun. Huskies assistant coach Bill Muckalt (himself a former Centennial) has been a fixture at many BCHL rinks including Cominco Arena this past season and no doubt Baltus' play (especially an autumn that saw him challenge for the league scoring lead) caught the attention of several recruiters.

Best of luck south of the border Brent, and congrats!