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DeSousa fitting in with new team

Nic DeSousa wanted a chance to play for a playoff contender.
Nic DeSousa has 10 points in seven games since being traded to Trail from Prince George earlier this month

Nic DeSousa wanted a chance to play for a playoff contender.

The Trail Smoke Eaters wanted another point producer to bolster its offence.

Just over two weeks ago both parties got their wish and so far the union has been a great one.

DeSousa has quickly adapted to his new surroundings and team since the Jan. 10 trade that sent him from the Prince George Spruce Kings to the Smokies.

Trail has gone 6-1 in the seven games since the deal and DeSousa, who is on a six-game point streak, has four goals and 10 points in that span.

“It feels like a new beginning,” said the 20-year-old Fraser Lake native. “It’s been good so far. They’re all great guys and they’ve welcomed me.”

Smokies head coach Jim Ingram said DeSousa has stepped in admirably with his new team.

“We needed that offensive shot in the arm and he’s brought that.

“He goes out and plays hard every night,” he added. “He’s feeling energized.”

As the trade deadline approached, the Prince George management asked the 20-year-old players if they wanted to play for a contender in their final year of junior hockey.

“We all thought it was the best for us in our last year,” said DeSousa, who was one of four 20-year-olds traded by the Spruce Kings on Jan. 10.

“It was really tough to leave,” he admitted. “We’ll always be Spruce Kings for life.”

But he added the trade to Trail was great news.

“A few guys on our team wanted to go to Trail. They have good players, a good team. They were going through a rough patch but everyone knew they were a good team.”

DeSousa joined the Spruce Kings as a 17-year-old after playing in the B.C. Major Midget League with the Cariboo Cougars. He played five playoff games in his first year, where Prince George pushed Penticton to the series limit, and watched last year as the Spruce Kings missed the post season.

That’s enough of an incentive to want him to help the Smokies make noise in the playoffs.

“You’re done so early in the year and you have so many months off and you just want to come back that much harder the next year and try and make it.”

Of course this off season will be his longest as he completes his junior career. And nothing would be a better send off than a long playoff run.

Coming off a solid 4-2 win over Merritt on Wednesday, the Smokies are back on the ice tonight when they host the Quesnel Millionaires. Saturday night, arguably one of the hottest teams in the league, the division-leading Vernon Vipers, stop at the Cominco Arena.

Ingram said there is a chance that Travis St. Denis could be back in the lineup for the weekend. The Smokies have been without the high-scoring forward since the end of December.

“He could be playing,” said Ingram. “He’s been skating hard all week.”

Although Ryan Dixon remains sidelined, St. Denis’s return this weekend would give the Smokies almost a complete lineup for the first time since October.

“We’re very, very close to having three healthy bodies in the stands every night,” said Ingram.