The Trail Smoke Eaters added a WHL goaltender with Greater Trail ties on Thursday just prior to BC Junior Hockey League’s Jan. 10 3 p.m. deadline.
The Smoke Eaters signed 18-year-old Donovan Buskey from the Western Hockey League’s Prince Albert Raiders. Buskey was a third-round WHL Bantam Draft selection of the Spokane Chiefs, before being traded to the Raiders in the 2018 pre-season. Buskey became available when the Raiders made a trade for the Edmonton Oil Kings goalie Boston Bilous, 17, on Thursday morning in exchange for a sixth-round draft pick in the 2022 WHL Bantam Draft.
Donovan’s father Brad Buskey was born and raised in Greater Trail, before moving to the Lower Mainland, and was an avid athlete and Smoke Eater fan, which makes the addition of his son Donovan a homecoming of sorts for the family.
“They say when one door shuts, another one opens,” Brad wrote on FaceBook. “Well this is a barn sized open door and goes straight to my heart. Donovan is now a Trail Smoke Eater! I am so stoked for him and for the team!!!”
Donovan played two seasons in the WHL split between the Chiefs and Raiders, and was a teammate of Luke Gallagher, who Trail acquired from the Chiefs on Tuesday. Buskey is a six-foot-two, 200-pound netminder and played in 11 games, amassing a 9-1 record to go along with a 3.14 goals against average and a .870 save percentage.
The North Vancouver native played in 37 career Major Junior games, with a 19-13-0-1 record, a 3.48 GAA and a .870 save percentage as well as one shutout. Prior to his time in the WHL, Buskey played with the Vancouver NW Giants of the BC Major Midget League in the 2016-17 season, posting a 3.32 GAA in 19 games.
The addition of Buskey should give Smoke Eaters starter Adam Marcoux some much-needed rest. Marcoux leads the league in minutes played, 2,187, and games, 38.
“Donovan has a winning pedigree, he’s the type of goalie you want to have,” said Trail head coach and GM Jeff Tambellini. “I need to take some workload off Adam. He’s in the net every night, he’s our 20-year-old guy, but we have to make sure he stays fresh, and now we have a guy that can come in and play minutes. And that’s what we needed, two guys that can go out and win us games.”
In a corresponding move, the Smoke Eaters have returned goaltender Chad Cromar to the Aldergrove Kodiaks of the PIJHL and will be used as an affiliate player for the remainder of the season.