Trail Smoke Eaters face Selkirk College Saints

Exhibition game is a good challenge for both teams.

The Trail Smoke Eaters face off in a home-and-home exhibition series with the Selkirk College Saints this weekend.

Smoke Eater coach Nick Deschenes  is looking forward to the challenge and playing the defending BC Intercollegiate Hockey League champs.

“They’ve got a good mix of older players, and they are competitive within their league, and I think it’s going to be a really good test,” says Deschenes. “If the game is played the right way, it should be a really good benefit for our crew as far as getting prepared for the BCHL Showcase next weekend.”

Trail is fresh off a split of games with the Merritt Centennials where they won 4-2 and lost 7-5 last weekend.

The Saints feature some ex-Beaver Valley Nitehawks in Jamie Vlanich, Ryan Edwards, Mason Spear and Arie Postmus and former Smoke Eaters Clayton McEwan, Darnell Dyck, Logan Proulx and most recently Jesse Knowler. Knowler spent the last two seasons with the Smoke Eaters squad collecting 16 goals, 42 assists and 58 points in 84 games from 2012-2014.

“We are excited to finally play some games,” said new Saints head coach Alex Evin in a release. “Our team has been practicing for the last three weeks and the players are anxious to get going. I am looking forward to both programs showcasing their talented teams in front of our very supportive Kootenay fans.”

For Evin it will be his first action at the helm of the two-time BCIHL champions, and with new assistant coach Brent Heaven, also a former Trail Smoke Eater assistant, this year’s team should again compete for a BCIHL title.

“We will have a very competitive line up among ourselves as our new recruits will be pushing our veteran players for ice time,” Evin added. “We expect to have a strong team again and our coaching staff is looking forward to evaluating our players this weekend.”

The Saints are coming off their second straight BCIHL title after sweeping the playoffs versus Trinity Western University and Thomson Rivers University in March.

While it is the Smokies final set of games before the BCHL opens its season in Chilliwack next Friday,  it marks the first of five exhibition games for the Saints.

Selkirk will host Trinity Western in Trail at the Cominco Arena on Sept. 19 and then face Grant MacEwan University from the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference in a doubleheader Sept. 27 and 28 at the Castlegar Complex.

The Smokies game at the Castlegar Rec Complex goes at 7 p.m. tonight, while Trail hosts the Saints at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Cominco Arena. Admission $5.