With the Dec. 1 carded-roster deadline imminent, the Trail Smoke Eaters’ coaching staff has been shaking things up, making moves and fielding phone calls, while preparing for the Salmon Arm SilverBacks tonight and Vernon Vipers Saturday.
The Smoke Eaters sent recent BCHL “Player of the Week” recipient Cody Bardock to the Chilliwack Chiefs for forward Brandon Volpe and futures Thursday. Bardock, a Lethbridge native, scored back-to-back winning goals two weeks ago against Nanaimo and Salmon Arm to earn the honour. In 11 games the Smokie defenceman scored four goals and added an assist.
According to Smoke Eater coach Nick Deschenes the 20-year-old was given the option to stay or move to another team and Bardock chose the latter.
“It was more just an opportunity for him,” said Deschenes. “I’ve offered all our older players to go someplace else. Ironically, they (Chilliwack) are in the same boat that we’re in with the same amount of points, but he was okay with that move.”
In another move Wednesday, the Smokies settled their goaltending dilemma by sending Riley Corbin to the Whitecourt Wolverines of the Alberta Junior Hockey League in exchange for future considerations.
The Smokies will welcome back goaltender Adam Todd to the lineup after being placed on the 60-day-injury list when he hurt his knee in a Sept. 28 game against the West Kelowna Warriors. Todd will resume duties with Dustin Nikkel this weekend.
The first CJHL roster deadline takes effect Sunday where BCHL teams must be at 25 or less, which includes carded players plus available unused cards. The norm is for teams to end up with a 22 player roster and three cards, but occasionally teams will go with less than 22 players and then have more cards available for use leading up to the Jan. 10 roster deadline, the final cut-down date. Teams on this date declare their final roster of 23.
Deschenes’ primary motive is to build a solid foundation of players that are both skilled and want to play in the Silver City.
“Some players have approached me and I’m in the process of seeing what I can do,” he said. “We’ve made some offers to some players who can play in the league and an opportunity that we can jump on the ship early and get them in. We want players that want to be here, if you don’t want to be here please tell me, because you are sinking the ship if you stick around.”
The Trail Smoke Eaters again play two crucial games against division rivals the Salmon Arm SilverBacks at home tonight and Vernon Vipers in Vernon Saturday.
The SilverBacks lead the season series three-games-to-one, but the Smoke Eaters took the last game 3-2 in OT at home Nov. 16.
Meanwhile the Vipers have been in and out of top spot in the Interior division, trading places in the penthouse with Penticton this week. The Vipers lead the season series with Trail 2-0, and will look to turn it around.
“We just have to compete, that’s the biggest thing. Wins and losses right now – we’re starting to focus in on just how we perform every shift, every period, winnng battles, competing, playing within our system, successful come off of the work were putting in and it’s not going to happen overnight . . . I know where we need to be and we’re walking that path to get there.”
The Smokies face off against the SilverBacks at 7:30 p.m. tonight at the Cominco Arena.