The Trail Smoke Eaters lost some physicality on the back end, but made up for it up front.
Trail traded veteran defenceman Trevor Isaksson to Merritt Centennials for future considerations, but acquired forward Justyn Gurney from the WHL Everett Silvertips.
Isaksson, a six-foot-three, 205-pound North Delta native, was a reliable and physical fixture on the Smokies back end for the past two seasons, but a combination of COVID-19 and an excess of 20-year-olds resulted in the move.
“It was one of those things where he wanted to be somewhere closer to home and that’s a closer location for him so we tried to work out a deal as best as we could,” said Smoke Eaters head coach and GM Tim Fragle. “Just with everything going on, that was something his family requested.”
Trail acquired the 20-year-old from the Nanaimo Clippers in November, 2018 and Isaksson played in 57 games for the Smoke Eaters adding four assists, and 45 penalty minutes.
Centennials head coach and GM Derek Sweet Coulter says that Isaksson will bring a little bit of everything to the D-core.
“Trevor is a big physical player, who has a long reach, and can block shots. He’s an experienced right handed defender that we were looking to add on the backend. He’s a great person who will put his teammates first and add to our culture with his leadership abilities.”
Trail picked up former WHLer Justyn Gurney who also turns 20 this year earlier this month. The Delta native played four seasons in the Major Junior league, the last two in Everett with the Silvertips.
Gurney, a six-foot-three, 190-pound forward played 198 games in the DUB, scoring 16 goals and 44 points with an impressive 247 penalty minutes.
“He’s a really good pickup for us,” said Fragle. “A 20-year-old, he’s a leader, one of our better players, and lots of experience in the Western League. He’s a big guy that has a lot of energy and will be hard to play against.”
Gurney also played for the Calgary Hitman, and dressed for 23 games with the BCHL Surrey Eagles in 2018, scoring six goals and 13 points, before joining Everett.
As part of the Smoke Eaters 30-man roster, the team has also listed Trail products Jacob Smith, Ethan Smyth, Anthony Williams, and Zach Park as well as Nelson native Adam Parsons.
Fragle says the team still has a few details to work out regarding the return to play plans but is looking forward to the 12-game exhibition series starting Oct. 3 versus the Cranbrook Bucks.
“Just having some sort of normalcy, this has been an odd year, so if we can get some sort of resemblance of what the hockey year looks like, they (the players) will be excited about that.”