Off the Wahl: An important part of Smokies family

Behind the scenes of the Trail Smoke Eaters with Chris Wahl.

The Trail Smoke Eaters, like all clubs in the BCHL, have a host of off-ice staff and volunteers. Without their help, the team simply couldn’t hit the ice each winter.

One young man in particular spends more time at the rink, and does more of the “little things” that help the Smokies operation run smoothly, than just about anyone else I’ve seen in my nearly five seasons of watching, covering, and working for this team.

Matthew Eckersley, better known as “Patches” for the embroidery-laden coat he sports on most away trips, typically starts his work day at 7 or 8 in the morning, washing jerseys, socks and under-gear, folding towels, and helping trainer Kim Penner prepare the dressing room either for afternoon practice or a home game.

Before the pre-game warmup, you might notice Patches stacking pucks along the bench dasher, placing water bottles along the boards, shuttling a shopping cart full of towels for the visiting team to use or even taking food and drinks to the Cominco Arena VIP booth. During the game, he’ll usually set up behind one goal and act as goal judge, generally sporting one of his many game-worn junior hockey jerseys in the process.

But as hard as the ardent Colorado Avalanche fan works, his efforts are usually out-matched by his generosity. I can’t count the number of times our players have boarded the bus for an away game only to find a snack or two on their seats, and Patches generally will get each player a little something before they go home for the holiday break too.

He, like all of us who are lucky enough to be a part of this team, lives for the Smoke Eaters brand. A cursory scan of Facebook postings over the course of this past summer would reveal that Patches simply can’t wait for hockey season, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him without a grin from ear to ear whenever we’ve crossed paths at the rink.

On the road, Patches is about as easy a room-mate as you’ll find, too. He’s always eager to help, and always eager to bring back some kind of memento for his mother from his travels across BC. He even made a plaque at the end of last season with game pucks from each of the 16 BCHL teams.

But for all his hard work, Patches, and the other people who live, breathe, and sleep Smoke Eaters hockey each and every day, will never seek credit. He’s as humble a young man as I’ve ever encountered, and I’m proud to call him a friend.`

Just Posted

Good fencing makes good neighbours— especially when your neighbours are bears

Workshop in Pass Creek this weekend to promote benefits of proper protection for livestock

Starbucks baristas in Trail donate $7,000 in tips

Funds will go toward the breakfast program in five Kootenay Columbia elementary schools

Feeling the heat

What you see: If you have a recent photo to share email

Air time at Trail Sk8 Park

The Trail Sk8Park is located near the Gyro Park boat launch

B.C. MP’s climate-change alarmism challenged

Letter to the Editor from Thorpe Watson, PhD, Warfield

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Supreme Court hears case on migrant detainees’ rights to challenge incarceration

Currently, migrants who do not hold Canadian citizenship can only challenge detention through an immigration tribunal or a judicial review.

Canada Post issues new offer to employees as eBay calls on Ottawa to end strikes

Ebay is calling on the federal government to legislate an end to the Canada Post contract dispute, warning that quick action is needed to ensure retailers don’t lose out on critical Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

No G20 member has climate plan strong enough to meet Paris targets: report

Canada’s push to be a world leader in the fight against climate change may be hampered by its distinction for producing the most greenhouse gas emissions per person among the world’s 20 largest economies.

Talent show: B.C. girl, 8, memorizes entire periodic table

Grade 4 student Maya Lakhanpal heads to B.C. talent show finals with unique talent

B.C. teacher suspended 5 days for touching colleague’s buttocks

Lancer Kevin Price of Chilliwack has handed the retroactive suspension for 2017 incidents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

Black Panther claw, Power Rangers blade among 2018’s ‘worst toys,’ safety group says

The World Against Toys Causing Harm organized announced its 46th annual list in Boston on Tuesday

Investigation underway into reported sexual assault at B.C. naval base

An Oct. 5 allegation is being investigated by Canadian Forces National Investigation Service

Most Read