Cody Schiavon and the Trail Smoke Eaters host the Cranbrook Bucks on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Cominco Arena. Jim Bailey photo.

Trail Smoke Eaters shuffle lineup for Cranbrook Bucks Saturday

Trail Smoke Eaters add veteran Junior players, try to make it two in a row against Bucks

The Trail Smoke Eaters will face-off against the Cranbrook Bucks again on Saturday at the Cominco Arena, with undoubtedly a different look.

Trail plays the Bucks for the second time in as many weeks, after skating to a 7-4 victory in the season exhibition opener last Saturday.

Trail iced a mix of veteran players and rookies, with returning veterans Connor Sweeney and Chase Dafoe scoring two goals each, and rookie forwards Connor Michaud tallying two and Nic Roussel scoring the game winning goal in the third period.

Trail captain Cody Schiavon was a standout for the Smokies and tallied three assists on the night, while displaying a healthy dose of physicality.

“There’ll be a good switch out on guys coming in and out of the line up,” said Smoke Eaters head coach and GM Tim Fragle. “But I thought Chase Dafoe had a strong game, and Connor Michaud, as a first year player, as well. Also, Cody Schiavon, as you’d expect, I thought he was the best ‘D’ on the ice.”

Trail is carrying about 30 players on its roster and fans will likely see newcomers like Justyn Gurney, Zack Feaver, Drew Elser, Brady Hunter, and Jordan Hendry, who were out of the lineup last game, in the lineup this week.

Nelson native Noah Quinn had a strong game for the Bucks scoring once and adding an assist, as Cranbrook outshot the Smoke Eaters 42-32. Many of those shots, however, came in the second period, when the Smoke Eaters got into penalty trouble. The Bucks scored two power-play goals, but Trail was able to hold off a Cranbrook comeback, and capitalize when it counted.

“You can look at the shot total and they got over 40 I believe, but I think a lot of them were just throwing pucks at the net from different angles,” said Fragle. “Not really threatening shots, however I did like their speed and I did like their compete level.”

Trail hosts Cranbrook on Saturday with the faceoff at 7 p.m. Fans can catch the game on HockeyTV.

Smoke Eaters moves: The Trail Smoke Eaters welcomed a couple of veteran junior players to their club this week.

Trail picked up veteran forward Drew Elser from the Penticton Vees and committed Enfield, Nova Scotia product Brady Hunter.

The 20-year-old Elser played in 26 games the past two season with the Vees recording six goals and eight points. The five-foot-11, 180-pound forward and Hopewell Junction, New York native is also committed to the University of Connecticut for 2021-22 season.

Elser also put up 16 points in 36 games as a 17-year-old with Central Illinois of the USHL.

Fragle said in a release, “Drew is a player that will fit in with our group, he is motivated and excited to come to Trail and help the team in anyway he can.”

The Smokies also expected 18-year-old forward Brady Hunter to arrive in Trail and join their roster earlier this week.

After a prolific Major Midget season with the Cole Harbour Wolfpack, where he counted 50 points in 36 games and was named First Team All Star, Hunter spent 2019-20 in the North American Hockey League with the Northeast Generals and Minnesota Wilderness and finished with 11 points in 34 NAHL games.

“He will bring a high work ethic and experience to our group,” said Smoke Eaters head coach and GM Tim Fragle. “He had good offensive numbers coming out of U18AAA and solid numbers in his first season of Junior A considering the opportunity he was given. We’re hopeful he can improve our depth up front.”

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