Trail Smoke Eater coach Nick Deschenes leads potential Smoke Eaters through a work out during the team’s day camps on Tuesday. The Smokies main fall camp hits the ice on Friday with games going throughout the weekend.

Trail Smoke Eater coach Nick Deschenes leads potential Smoke Eaters through a work out during the team’s day camps on Tuesday. The Smokies main fall camp hits the ice on Friday with games going throughout the weekend.

Smoke Eaters camp hits Cominco ice

The Smoke Eaters will look to bounce back from a challenging 2013-14 season in the BCHL as prospects take to the ice

The Trail Smoke Eaters effort to woo fans back to the Cominco Arena in September is off to a promising start following major changes to its lineup and a frenzied recruiting campaign over the summer.

The Smoke Eaters will look to bounce back from a challenging 2013-14 season in the BCHL as prospects take to the ice at the Cominco Arena on Friday for the start of the Smokies’ main fall camp.

“What we went through last year with players wanting to move, with players not reporting, and we really got hit hard with injuries at the end of the year; all of the above made for a really challenging environment,” said Trail coach and GM Nick Deschenes.

“With the situation last year, there were obviously a lot of challenges, and for everybody. I’m noticing the ramifications even now. When a coach changes it can turn everything upside down, from players being relocated, players asking for trades, to billet families having to deal with changes in their players leaving or new ones coming. It throws everything for a loop.”

It translated into a 10-42-2-4 season, one of the Smokies most forgettable in its history in the BCHL. However, following recruiting trips out east, Deschenes and assistants Barry Zanier and Craig Clair have managed to stock the Smokies growing roster with a number of committed players.

In addition to returning players Bryan Basilico, Lake Superior University, and Trail’s Scott Davidson and Craig Martin, Quinnipiac University, the Smokies recruited and signed Air Force commit Robbie Johnson from Kamloops, Bryan Gerstenfeld and Ryan Swanson, Army, Victor Dombrovskiy, Yale, and just this week inked defenceman Conner Wynne, a third-round draft pick of the Green Bay Gamblers of the U.S. Junior Hockey League and a Brown University commit.

“He’s a very highly-touted defenceman, and he falls in line with what we’re trying to do here with getting players that are on that path (to university).”

Wynne, an 18-year-old Poloma, N.Y. native played with Milton Academy in the US High School league in addition to the Boston Jr. Bruins U18 team two years ago.

The Smokies back end looks all but set with Adam Todd returning in net along with former Beaver Valley Nitehawk MVP goalie Brett Clark, who is currently nursing an ankle injury. Teammate Sheldon Hubbard from last year’s Keystone Cup winning Hawks’, will also suit up in Orange and Black this year. The 190-pound Hubbard is a big, agile defenceman with an offensive upside, and will anchor the blue line along with former WJAC defenceman Dombrovskiy, Zane Shartz, Gerstenfeld, Swanson, Dexter McLeod, and Wynne.

With the defence solidified, Deschenes says they’re still looking for a couple of forwards, but the Smokies’ offence is also beginning to take form with the return of forwards Basilico, Davidson, Brandon Volpe, Sheldon Brett and Jake Lucchini, the acquisition of Martin and Harlan Orr from Alberni Valley, and the signing of Trail’s Dallas Calvin and Brampton native and London Knight draft pick Kyle Cochrane.

The local Smokies contingent of Davidson, Calvin, Martin, and Jake Lucchini, which may also include 17-year-old defenceman Jeremy Lucchini who was impressive for the Nitehawks last season, should help draw fans to the rink and is a strong foundation upon which to build a closer relationship with the community.

“The fact there is a local presence and a lot of people have had an impact in getting these young men to where they are; their families, their previous coaches, it’s a testament to a lot of people’s efforts, so as the coach I’ve kind of reaped the benefits of that and I think that every player that comes into Trail this year will notice they have a direct connection to the community.”

Around 40 skaters will attend the camp and compete for a roster spot.

Absent from this year’s team will be former captain Adam Wheeldon who was traded to the Camrose Kodiaks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League earlier this month.

The Smoke Eaters also handed Dylan Bowen, Nathan Browne, Taylor Armbruster, and Greyson Reitmeier their outright release earlier this month, after dealing Joel Webb, Dylan Mascarin, and Sean Davies in June – a strong indication that this year will indeed be different.

“The challenge is to learn from that and move forward, and I like to think I’ve learned my lesson to some extent and so we will take the team in a direction that is a little bit different,” said Deschenes. “I realized that to be competitive you really have to recruit properly and have players that are as ready as possible to play in the BCHL and have an impact.”

The Smoke Eaters camp starts this weekend with games going at 7 p.m. on Friday, and 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. on Sunday. The public is welcome to attend.

The Smokies exhibition schedule includes just one home game on Sept. 13 in Trail versus the Selkirk College Saints, admission $5, under-16 free. Trail plays Merritt on Sept. 5-6, and Selkirk at the Castlegar Rec Complex  Sept. 12 at 7:30 p.m.

Just Posted

The Trail Smoke Eaters will open the 2021 season on Oct. 8 against the Cranbrook Bucks in Cranbrook, and will have their home opener the next night against the same Bucks. Photo: Jack Murray
BC Hockey League announces 54-game schedule to begin in October

Trail Smoke Eaters open season with home-and-home series versus Cranbrook Bucks

“The Spirit of Family” enhances the Beaver Valley both in the daytime and at night. Photo: Submitted
Family sculpture installed at the Fruitvale Memorial Hall

Locals are encouraged to swing by Fruitvale Memorial Hall to take a… Continue reading

In 1927, swimmers enjoyed a day in the water at the CGIT and CSET Camp in Summerland. While none of the people in this photograph have smart phones, there is some debate about whether a beach image from the United Kingdom in 1943 shows a man using a smart phone. (Photograph courtesy of the Summerland Museum)
COLUMN: The mystery of the time-travelling tourist

Was the man in a 1943 photograph checking his smart phone?

The flotation line at Gyro Park beach in East Trail, shown here during low water, is for emergency purposes only and does not delineate a safe swimming area. Photo: Trail Times file
City of Trail cautions beach users

Gyro Park beach questions should be directed to the roads superintendent at 250.364.0817.

Presently in Canada, it is illegal to be in possession of a personal stun gun. Use of this tool is only licensed to federal and provincial police officers. The personal use of stun guns by unlicensed civilians is considered to be illegal and considered under the Canadian Criminal Code to be the equivalent of a weapon. Anyone found importing or in possession of a personal stun gun and is not a licensed law enforcement officer can be prosecuted under the Canadian Criminal Code. Photo: BC RCMP
Trail man faces weapons charge after police confiscate stun gun

The incident took place on Sunday near downtown Trail

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Grace (left), a caribou that was born in a maternal pen north of Revelstoke, is alive and well said the province. It appears she even has a calf. Maternity pens aim to increase caribou calf survival by protecting them from predation until they are older and less vulnerable. (Contributed)
For the first time in years, caribou numbers increasing near Revelstoke

North herd growing but south herd still concerning

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

Kelowna General Hospital. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna General Hospital declared over

Three people tested positive for the virus — two patients and one staff — one of whom died

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

A worker, at left, tends to a customer at a cosmetics shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Half of cosmetics sold in Canada, U.S. contain toxic chemicals: study

Researchers tested more than 230 commonly used cosmetics and found that 56% of foundations and eye products, 48% of lip products and 47% of mascaras contained high levels of fluorine

Most Read