The Trail Smoke Eaters wrap up their home season Friday with a game against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
The Smokies will look to end the year on a winning note when they face the Silverbacks and Vernon Vipers this weekend. Both the Smokies and the Silverbacks looked rejuvenated in the new year, but have spun their tires of late, going 1-4-0-0 in their last five matches.
Trail has struggled with a 3-9-0-0 record in February, albeit against some pretty good teams, losing to the Spruce Kings in Prince George, and dropping a pair of games to Wentchee last week and Penticton the week before.
While Trail has the fourth seed in the Interior Division sewn up, a couple good results in their final two matches would certainly be a much-needed confidence boost heading into the playoffs next week. Trail is undefeated against Salmon Arm this year, and will look for the sweep on Friday.
Also, at the end of Friday’s match the Smoke Eaters invite fans to join them at centre ice to pose with the Smoke Eater players for a massive group FAN photo. Don’t miss it.
And the finalists are:
The BCHL also came out with its year-end award nominations, and, notably, no Smoke Eaters were in the mix.
BCHL coaches voted on the awards, nominating one player from each division for the respective prizes, with the final voting going next week.
The MVP Award nominees are Alex Newhook of the Island Division’s Victoria Grizzlies, Ethan de Jong from the Prince George Spruce Kings of the Mainland Division and the Interior Division’s Jasper Weatherby from the Wenatchee Wild.
The Smokies Ross Armour or Kale Howarth would have been an early consideration with their and the Smoke Eaters’ torrid start, but teams found a way to shut them down, and production waned the last half of the season.
In the rookie category, Newhook is again nominated, along with the Chilliwack Chiefs Corey Andonovski, and Josh Prokop of the Vernon Vipers.
Prokop is undeniably a good player, but a strong case could be made for Smoke Eaters rookie forwards Levi Glasman and Carter Jones. Glasman’s 20 goals and 48 points is second only to Newhook in rookie scoring, with Jones’ 43 points coming in fourth on the list. You have to look down the list to ninth spot to find Prokop with 36 points, two less than even Trail’s Tyler Ghirardosi (19-19-38), who came on strong in the second half of the season.
Smokies rookie defenceman, Seth Barton, also begs consideration after a selection to the CHL’s Top Prospects game and World Jr. A Challenge, not to mention his NHL Central Scouting ranking.
The coaching award was narrowed down to Nelson native Adam Maglio, whose Spruce Kings captured the Mainland Division title for the first time in its 21 year history, and are a much improved team from last year when they finished in fourth place with 56 points; Matt Hughes, Island Division’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs; and Bliss Littler of the Wenatchee Wild for the Interior.
Obviously, there are many factors involved in the selection process, but it is puzzling that Hughes merits consideration when the Bulldogs accumulated 42 points last season, and this year they have just 39 with three games to play.
Likewise, the Wild’s Littler is nowhere near the 94 points achieved with last year’s team, with Wenatchee at 79 points with two games left. Perhaps it’s a tacit nod by the league to the Interior Division’s level of play as opposed to the Mainland Division, in which the Wild played last year.
An argument can be made for the Smoke Eaters coach Cam Keith, who started from scratch last year, and rebuilt the team into a legitimate contender. If not for a spate of injuries, illnesses, and absences in December, the Smokies likely would be playing for one of the top-three spots in the Interior. Still, the Smokies went from a 58-point team last season to a 67-point team and counting this year.
Other awards nominees include:
Top Defenceman: Island – Max Crozier, Nanaimo Clippers; Mainland – Colin Bernard, Langley Rivermen; Interior – Cooper Zech – Wenatchee Wild.
Goaltending Award: Island – Taz Burman, Nanaimo Clippers; Mainland – Evan DeBrouwer, Prince George Spruce Kings; Interior – Ty Taylor, Vernon Vipers.
Bob Fenton Trophy – Most Sportsmanlike Player: Island – Gavin Rauser, Powell River Kings; Mainland – Ben Poisson, Prince George Spruce Kings; Interior – Nicholas Wick, Merritt Centennials.
Other trophies that will be awarded but are not voted on are the Ron Boileau Memorial Trophy (best regular-season record), the Brett Hull Trophy (top scorer) and the Wally Forslund (goalie tandem with the best combined goals-against average).