Brady Marzocca bears down on goalie Cameron Donn of Nanaimo in this close-in attempt on Sunday at the Cominco Arena

Smokies Camp springs new hope

The Trail Smoke Eaters wrapped up their Spring Camp with one committed player and many others looking for a shot.

The Trail Smoke Eaters wrapped up their Spring Camp with one committed player and many others looking for a shot at Trail’s Main Camp in August.

Over 100 players took to the Cominco ice for three days of scrimmages and a chance for the Smoke Eater coaching staff to assess and identify potential Smoke Eaters.

“We were really impressed,” said Smoke Eater interim coach Curtis Toneff. “There was lots of talent out there. The calibre of play surprised us. All the guys impressed us with their character walking around the rink and being good teammates on the bench.”

Victoria born defenceman Ryan Warner committed to the orange and black on Sunday. The former Peninsula Panther of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League is a six-foot-four, 195 pound blueliner who will figure prominently on the backend. He will, in part, replace defenceman Bennett Morrison who has accepted a scholarship offer to play for the University of Hamilton in New York. The 18-year-old Warner scored seven goals and had 19 points with the Panthers last season to go along with 45 penalty minutes.

“We will look for him to be a steady-eddie type of defenceman. We lost Bennett Morrison to Division III, so we’re looking for a guy to come in and fill that void.”

The three-day camp was also a great opportunity for the Smoke Eater staff to build and renew relationships with KIJHL players and coaches, and also for the KIJHL teams to identify young prospects for the upcoming season and future.

“It was a well organized camp with lots of prospects for the Smokies, local KI teams, and Major Midget League teams,” said Beaver Valley Nitehawks head coach and GM Terry Jones. “Curtis, Barry (Zanier) and Craig (Clare) have initiated lots of involvement for local teams in terms of working together to create a great system of development for local players.”

In addition to Jones, a number of KIJHL Kootenay Conference coaches attended the camp and helped coach one of the six teams, including Jeff Dubois from the Creston Valley Thundercats, Bill Birks from Beaver Valley Nitehawks, Jesse Dorans from Castlegar, Mario DiBella of Nelson, and Wade Dubielewicz from Columbia Valley.

The camp attracted players from the KIJHL, Major Midget, Canadian High School Academies and U.S. Prep Schools with an emphasis on development and facilitating the movement of affiliate players and Smoke Eater prospects between Junior B KIJHL teams and the Junior A Smokies.

“The goal of the camp was to form a relationship with the guys that impressed us, and our local guys, for the 99-2000 birth year, down the road we want them in our uniform, and to keep progressing the way they are,” said Toneff. “A lot of those guys got invited back to Main Camp, and we want to have a good relationship with them.”

The six teams played a total of 12 games over three days with two goalie sessions. Toneff says that 20-25 of the Spring Camp attendees will be invited to the Main Camp where 60-80 players will compete for a spot on the team.

With Warner’s committment and the recent addition of defenceman Ethan Martini last month, the Smokies blue line is shaping up with Jeremy Lucchini of Trail, Mitch Stapley, Nii Noi Tetteh, and Cooper Sande set to return from last season’s team. The forwards eligible to return include Max Newton, Spencer McLean, Kale Howarth, Blaine Caton, Ross Armour, Cooper Leitch, Nolan Redler, Kienan Scott, and Conner Brown-Maloski. With the addition of recent committments Ryan Murphy and Henry Rhyu up front, the offensive core looks balanced and skilled but ultimately it will all come down to execution, and how many are at camp in August.

Castlegar Rebels goalie Logan Sawka, 19, is a solid bet to vie for top puckstopper with returning goaltender Linden Marshall, while 15-year-old goalie James Porter of Bonner’s Ferry, Idaho, a standout in camp, is high on the future’s list.

“We can see him (Porter) wearing our jersey one day,” said Toneff. “A lot of the other guys, with a new head coach coming in, we’ll be in touch with a lot of them. But Castlegar’s Logan Sawka, he’ll be at main camp I believe.”

Just Posted

Pedestrian killed on Highway 22 Saturday evening

Police say 51-year-old man died after being hit by car

UPDATE: DriveBC says highway re-opened after accident

Highway 22 closed for seven hours on Saturday

Forestry workers set to begin job action in Kootenays

Operations in Castlegar, Cranbrook, Galloway, Elko, Radium, Golden may see job action this week.

Métis Flag flies in Trail on Louis Riel Day

Area students, officials and public attend flag raising at Trail City Hall

Early Trail borrowed a couple of names from the U.S.

Place Names: Connection between Trail and Butte, Montana

REPLAY: B.C’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

B.C. asking for tips on ‘dirty money’ in horse racing, real estate, luxury cars

Action follows a Peter German report on money laundering in B.C. casinos

Canadian dead more than a week after plane crash in Guyana: Global Affairs

Global Affairs said it couldn’t provide further details on the identity of the Canadian citizen

Children between 6 and 9 eligible for $1,200 RESP grant from province

BC Ministry of Education is reminding residents to apply before the deadline

Victoria spent $30,000 to remove John A. Macdonald statue

Contentious decision sparked controversy, apology from mayor

Privacy concerns over credit card use for legal online pot purchases

Worries follow privacy breaches at some Canadian cannabis retailers

NEB approves operating pressure increase to repaired Enbridge pipeline

The pipeline burst outside of Prince George on Oct. 9, now operating at 85 per cent

B.C. VIEWS: Setting speed limits in a post-fact political environment

Media prefer ‘speed kills’ narrative, even when it fails to appear

Controversy erupts over Japanese flag in B.C. classroom (updated)

Online petition demanding removal has collected more than 5,700 signatures

Most Read