New teams, new season on tap

Hockey season is here and our local teams are gearing up for a great season.

Just in case the rain Wednesday didn’t convince you it is fall and hockey season (me neither) you don’t have to worry for a while about getting into gear for Smoke Eater play. Trail has its lightest and latest home schedule in memory – the Smokies don’t have a home game for two weeks and won’t be at Cominco Arena again until a week after that, the end of the month.

If you are of a mind to abandon the rerun season, however, the Beaver Valley Nitehawks are busy right now.

The Nitehawks have four exhibition games in the next five nights – at home Friday and Sunday and in Castlegar and Creston Saturday and Tuesday – then jump into the regular season with an away and home set with Grand Forks next weekend.

Both Trail and Beaver Valley have undergone serious rebuilds in the off season, so investigating the new faces should make trips to the KIJHL rinks worthwhile. Beaver Valley faithful will be wondering if the dominant team of last season has rebuilt or reloaded.

Trail fans should be curious about the quality of the new lineup after a very down season in 2011/12.

Interesting enough questions to prompt some early season visits to both home barns, one supposes.

Despite their road warrior status, the Smokies will likely show more of their new true colours by month end than the Nitehawks.

Trail opens with four games against BCHL playoff franchises from last season (Merritt and Prince George), then have the also rebuilding West Kelowna (Westside) Warriors, pre-season favourite Vernon and very-strong-of-late Powell River to finish out the month.

The Nitehawks should breeze into the season against the lowly Bruins, then face another retooled squad in Castlegar the following weekend.

I won’t be seeing the Smokies play until mid-October, unless hurricane activity or other calamity cancels our cruise to the canal and Carribean, but I am curious about the progress Trail’s returnees have made (I have high hopes for several of them) and how the local newcomers (high hopes again) make the large leap from major midget and junior B.

So, I will be following the Smokies’ fortunes on line. But, you don’t have to – you can just get out to the game, along with your friends, when the team finally hits town. You can, and should, make a little room in your week for the constantly excellent Nitehawks – not just the other local team – who seldom disappoint.