Hockey has taken Trail childhood friends Craig Martin and Scott Davidson on a long and intense journey that culminated in April with their graduation commencement at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut.
Last week, Quinnipiac journalism senior Justin Cait and videographer Matt Schindler paid tribute to Martin and Davidson by creating and releasing a YouTube video entitled “The Trail Connection.”
The seamless four-minute production highlights the two players’ journey through hockey that started as six year olds in Rossland-Trail Minor Hockey. They moved up the ranks, playing rep hockey, then Junior B with the Beaver Valley Nitehawks and eventually the Trail Smoke Eaters, where they committed in 2014 to attend Quinnipiac and play for the Bobcats in NCAA Div. 1 hockey.
Cait had contacted the Trail Times and the Smoke Eaters in March requesting permission to use footage and photos to complete the video. The genesis of the project, however, started much earlier.
“Both Matt and I lived in the same hall as the first-year hockey players our freshman year,” Cait told the Times. “That is where we first met Scott and Craig and discovered the personalities that came from Trail.
“We always planned on making a full-fledged feature about the pair, and the legendary city, once we had a platform to do so. Fast forward to our senior year, and we both worked for the Quinnipiac Athletic department’s work study program in creating digital content. We thought it would be the perfect time to produce the ‘Trail Boys’ feature for the athletic department, and also as sort of a personal farewell piece before we graduated.”
Davidson and Martin are the most recent Trail additions to the Bobcats’ legacy, yet, Montrose twins Connor and Kellen Jones were the first Greater Trail products to attend Quinnipiac in 2010, followed by Trail’s Travis St. Denis in 2012.
As seniors, the Jones brothers and St. Denis, a sophomore, led the Bobcats to their first NCAA Frozen Four final appearance in 2014, and St. Denis again with Freshmen Davidson and Martin in 2015.
“Obviously, Connor and Kellen were two of the better players we’ve ever had here, and did a lot for us,” added Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold.
“The Jones’ basically paved the way,” Davidson explained in the video. “You can’t say enough about them, and especially having Travis; those guys showed you the ropes, if you needed any help with anything, they were there for you.”
The twins’ dad Terry Jones and Quinnipiac commit Tyler Ghirardosi were also meant to be part of the project, but the Athletic Department’s compliance issues kept the Beaver Valley coach and the current Smoke Eater out of the final edit.
“That aspect was extremely disappointing to us because we fully recognize and wanted to convey how integral Terry Jones is in developing players from the Trail area in Beaver Valley, not just at Quinnipiac, but all over the hockey world,” said Cait, who had also hoped to release the film before Quinnipiac’s quarterfinal game versus Brown, but had to wait until after graduation.
“It would have also been nice to give those two seniors more recognition before their imminent last games as Bobcats, as opposed to after their collegiate careers,” added Cait. “Otherwise – aside from a few minor technical errors that post production could not solve – we were extremely happy with the interviews, the editing and the reception it has received so far.”
Connor and Travis now play for the American Hockey League’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers, while Kellen’s journey has taken him to Europe, where he played with the Vasterviks IK from Sweden in 2018-19, and will join Thurgau of the Swiss League next season.
In April, Martin was offered an Amateur Tryout with the Springfield Thunderbirds, affiliate to the NHL Florida Panthers, and Davidson with the Charlotte Checkers, the Carolina Hurricanes AHL affiliate.
While Martin and the T-birds season is over, Davidson and the Checkers made it to the Calder Cup finals against the Chicago Wolves, which commences in a best-of-seven series on Saturday.
In the end, “The Trail Connection” is a brief but poignant piece best summed up by Davidson.
“That’s the special thing about Trail, no matter how far you go, those are your roots. It’s a special thing in a way.”