The 2019-20 season is officially underway for the Trail Smoke Eaters.
The Smoke Eaters opened their Main Camp on Monday with a lean squad of veterans, new recruits, and future Smoke Eaters.
A total of just 40 players we’re invited to camp as Smoke Eaters coach and GM Jeff Tambellini spent the summer building the team one player at a time. In past years, the camp has invited 60 or more players that compete for positions, but this time Tambellini wants his team up and running when the real season starts Sept. 6.
Unlike last year, when the Smoke Eaters were depleted on defence, this year’s team lost most of its forwards. As a result, Tambellini committed 15 players, 10 of those forwards, including Phillippe Lapointe, who will wear the ‘C’ for the Smoke Eaters this season.
“He was our biggest recruit of the offseason,” said Tambellini in a release. “He’s the right guy for our program and where we’re at and what we’re trying to build. He’s an extremely high-character player. He’s very talented and we think he’s going to be a major piece for our team this year.”
Returning veterans include goalie Donovan Buskey, defencemen Diarmad Dimurro, Trevor Isaakson, Kieran O’Hearn, Kyle Budvarson, and Powell Connor, and forwards Kent Johnson, Max Kryski, Tyler Ghirardosi, and Owen Ozar.
Tambellini recruited a number of younger players that boast speed and skill such as Chase Dafoe and Colby Elmer from the Okanagan Rockets of the BC Major Midget League, as well as older, veteran 20-year-old players like Corey Clifton, Michael Colella, and Liam Freeborn that bring size and junior hockey experience to the group.
Young local players like Jacob Smith, Dayton Nelson and Anthony Williams will look to turn the Smokies’ coaching staff’s collective heads, as they compete for spots, if not today, then for the future.
Other committed players include goalies Gabriel Waked from the Flin Flon Bombers of the SJHL and Logan Terness from Burnaby where he played for the Vancouver NE Chiefs and saw action in two games with the Smokies last season.
Committed defencemen are Jordan Hendry, Jackson Murphy-Johnson, and Corey McCann, while committed forwards include Connor Sweeney, Braden Costello, Walker Erickson, and Jaden Senkoe.
“Pretty much every player on this team is someone I’ve recruited.” Tambellini said in a release. “I’ve built the team that I want. These guys all know the expectations I have for our group, the standards and values we have in Trail for our organization. We have big expectations. It’s going to take a lot of work because we have a lot of new bodies, but we think we have the right people and definitely the right talent level to have a really strong season.”
The Smoke Eaters camp continues Tuesday and Wednesday with on-ice sessions going at 10 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 2 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. The Orange vs Black game goes Thursday night at 6 p.m. at the Cominco Arena.