The raw ingredients for a fresh new dish of Junior A hockey were on the ice on the weekend at Cominco Arena as the Trail Smoke Eaters held their annual spring evaluation camp.
Over 70 players from as far away as the Eastern U.S. seaboard, Alberta, Saskatchewan and across B.C. were in the Silver City for the three-day camp, all vying for one of the few spots the Smokies have open for next season.
With over 20 players from the West Kootenay — and eight from Trail alone — there could be a larger representation of local talent on the 2012-2013 edition of the venerable Junior A franchise roster.
And although the Smokies return all but two players from their current roster, some of the players from the weekend could create a spot for themselves for next season, bumping a veteran if they continue the strong play they showed in the spring camp, said a team official.
“I don’t know how many, but quite a few will get invited back to main camp,” said Smokies head coach Bill Birks late last week.
Players ranging in age from 15-19 were in camp, but none had previous Junior A experience. Although the coaching staff was busy with one-on-one sessions with the players after the evaluation games concluded Sunday afternoon — and were unavailable for comment on who impressed — they did hint prior to the weekend there might be some surprises in camp in late summer.
The Smokies finished the regular season with a 11-42-1-6 record, scoring an average of 2.5 goals per game and giving up 4.9 goals per game. There are some holes to fill on the club, said one official, but they have youth on their side.