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Sr. Smoke Eaters’ annual Christmas dinner postponed this year

Organizers decided to postpone the Smoke Eaters dinner, avoid flu season for warmer spring weather
Former Sr. Smoke Eaters Gerry Godfrey and Albert Holms attended last year’s Christmas dinner at the Trail Memorial Centre, the first since before COVID. Holms dug deep into his closet so he could don his Trail-Rossland ‘61 Junior A provincial championship jacket that still fits after 60 years. Photo: Jim Bailey

The Trail Sr. Men’s Smoke Eaters alumni Christmas brunch will be postponed this year.

The reunion has been an annual seasonal repast since the early 1990s, bringing together former Sr. Smoke Eaters who skated in the Western International Hockey League (WIHL) during its run from 1946-88.

“We decided to postpone it because of COVID and all the flues going around,” said organizer and past Sr. Smoke Eater Wayne Florko. “The guys, with our age, are susceptible, so I would rather do it when the weather is better.”

The WIJHL was comprised of teams from Trail, Rossland, Nelson, Kimberley, Fernie, and Cranbrook as well as Calgary, Spokane, Portland and Los Angeles playing in the league at various times throughout its history.

Florko would also like to commemorate the BC Totems, a WIHL All Star team that travelled to Europe for exhibition games and then played in the Ahearne Cup in Stockholm, Sweden in 1972.

Florko was one of the representatives from Trail on the team, and he would like to see members from all the old rivals join the Sr. Smoke Eaters at the brunch come spring time as well.

“I want to do a league thing now,” said Florko. “We never get together unless somebody does something, and this is the 50th year of getting our guys together. After 50 years, you lose a few, so I put the call out.”

The WIHL was considered among the best amateur hockey leagues in North America. The caliber of play was excellent and many former top CHL, Junior A, university and pro-level players went on to compete for WIHL teams.

The Trail Smoke Eaters won the WIHL championship’s Shore-Montgomery Cup seven times in 1948, ’51, ’52,’60, ’62, ’79, and ’83.

Jim Bailey

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