In the wake of a five-game losing streak, the Trail Smoke Eaters added some size and skill to its lineup.
The Smokies announced the carding of former AP’s Paulsen Lautard from the Summerland Steam and Max Newton from the Grand Forks Border Bruins on Thursday.
Lautard, a Penticton native, is a six-foot-one, 19-year-old forward who had 15 goals and 17 assists for the Steam and was fifth overall in KIJHL scoring, while Newton, a talented 16-year-old forward, led the Bruins and was third-place overall in KIJHL scoring with 16-18-34.
“They bring offensive skill, but also size, and they play the game a certain way, both of them, and it adds a little more grit away from the puck, which we definitely need,” said Smoke Eater coach and GM Nick Deschenes.
As a result, the Smokies released 20-year-old defenceman Stephen Ryan and are looking to move Brandon Volpe, 18, to another junior team.
“It’s not related to what our current situation is, but we just felt they weren’t performing to our expectations so we felt we could make an upgrade,” he said. “We got a little bit younger, and we felt that those players are capable of the opportunity that we have here and I think they are going to be big pieces moving into this season and hopefully next season as well.”
Both Lautard and Newton will be in the lineup this weekend as the Smoke Eaters face Victoria on Friday and Coquitlam on Saturday at the Cominco Arena at 7:30 p.m.
“We have a lot to prove, there hasn’t been a game we’ve been out of, we’re just not playing our best hockey,” added Deschenes. “I thought last game was a great response, and more the direction we need to go in, and the game could have gone either way. I thought we deserved two points, but that’s the way sports goes sometimes.”