The Trail Smoke Eaters had to pay the piper eventually and that meant giving up one of their top forwards, plus two highly touted young players as part of future consideration deals made earlier this season.
The Smoke Eaters sent forward Andre Ghantous to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs to complete the exchange for Connor Welsh made just prior to the Jan. 10 trade deadline.
Trail also moved forwards Ryan Moon and Daine Dubois to the Cowichan Valley Capitals, finalizing the trade made in December for goaltender Adam Marcoux.
“For us it’s never easy to let players go,” said Smoke Eaters assistant coach Jessie Leung. “As part of the coaching staff and organization, these players are like family to us, especially Andre and Ryan who were here for two years, and even Daine, for one year. They’re such a part of our success, where we’ve gone and what we’ve done as an organization, so it wasn’t easy.”
Ghantous, 19, is a brilliant playmaker who scored 19 goals and 44 points this season in 58 games, and the same number of points in his first year. The Glendale, Calif. native was often the best player on the ice in the 2018 playoffs.
Ryan Moon, 19, saw his playing time diminished this season, appearing in 42 games and scoring four times and adding seven assists, a drop of eight points from his first year numbers. But Moon showed a ton of heart when he stepped up his game near the end of last season, when injuries riddled the Trail line up.
As an 18-year-old rookie, Dubois showed loads of potential, and scored six goals and 10 points in 41 games this year for the Smoke Eaters.
“We looked at it as an opportunity for us to make a serious run, which we did,” said Leung. “In order to do that, we had to give up pieces that would help us through that. But it wasn’t easy.”
Marcoux is slated to return to Trail for next season. The 19-year-old Calgary product posted a 12-10-1 record since joining the Smoke Eaters Dec. 2, a 2.78 goals against average, and a .917 save percentage. The 20-year-old Welsh, from Halifax, graduates from junior hockey this year and had five goals and 10 points in 16 games with the Smokies.