Trail Times Sports Columnist Dave Thompson

Trail Times Sports Columnist Dave Thompson

Smokies give Vees all they can handle

Lots has been said already about Reno Zanier as a goalie. He was fun to watch.

What will be missed about Reno, though, will be his personality. Quiet, humble, pleasant, a good friend and family man – his presence, not his past, will be best remembered.

Sad for the whole community, not just hockey fans.

• On that whole, “Golden age of goaltending in the Home of Champions,” thing. It should be remembered that, on top of the big four world class netminders we all know, there were literally dozens of other local goaltenders backstopping local teams to provincial championships in Bantam, Midget, Juvenile and Junior Hockey during the same epoch.

At least a few of those also had adult careers of note and some others, if not distracted by different career dreams, might have had the ability to do that as well.

Not being a goalie, I am not fully aware of the roster of goalie whisperers that were coaching and creating all of the above. Suffice to say that, as in most other areas of youth development, there was ample expertise available for developing goalies here in the HOC.

• It was a little disappointing when the Smokies did not salvage a point against the Vees Wednesday night. Downright surprising that the Vees netminder was not named first star of the contest.

Despite missing a key piece of every established line, Trail gave an essentially full strength Penticton all it could handle, getting better as the new lines became more familiar with themselves.

Not quite good enough, as it turned out, but a great game. Vernon (9-0 winners last time out at Cominco Arena) tonight. I predict, regardless of how many of the injured starters return, a bit closer contest this time around.

• I keep saying the Interior Division is the strongest in the BCHL, likely the strongest in Junior A hockey, and here is why.

The leaders of the BCHL Island Division, here at the halfway point of the season, would be fifth, seventh and eighth placed in the Interior. The top three in the Mainland Division would stand third, sixth and seventh among Interior teams. Doesn’t leave much doubt about the relative division qualities.

It does showcase the difficulty of achieving top standings places in the Interior. The Smokies are having a terrific season, still, but there is a long, hard road ahead of them before playoff time.