Monday, 27 January 2014

A different team.

Once again, fans of the Trail Smoke Eaters saw a different team than the one that took the ice the weekend prior.

Trail was outscored 8-2 in a pair of weekend outings, moving their losing streak two four.

The Smokies welcomed the defending BCHL champion Surrey Eagles Friday, seven days after beating them in their barn.

It would be a much different story however, as the Smoke Eaters couldn't muster much offense and were shutout 3-0.

The orange and black were out shot 38-31 in another stellar performance by Adam Todd between the pipes.

However, the Smokies couldn't give Todd any support on the score clock.

The club had many opportunities in the first period that they just couldn't bury and if they had the aforementioned great play of their puck-stopper could have stolen them a win had they established a lead at some point.

Trail would try to change their luck on the road Saturday but things went from bad to worse against the powerful Penticton Vees.

It was just two weeks ago that these two sides met in the Silver City, to which at one point the Smokies held a 2-0 lead, but would eventually fall 3-2 to Penticton.

However this time, would never hold an advantage on the scoreboard and allowed their opponents to score four unanswered goals, for a final of 5-2.

The Vees almost doubled the Smoke Eaters in shots, 43-22.

Trail will look to at least find some positives again when they visit the Merritt Centennials Tuesday night before the weekend sees them in Vernon Saturday and returning home to face Merritt again on Saturday.

They last time the orange and black faced off against Vernon, the earned a 4-1 win over the Vipers - a team that will host the RBC Cup this spring.

However, the Centennials have owned the Smokies this season, winning four of five meetings so far and outscoring Trail 22-10.

The next broadcast will be for the second game against Merritt, Saturday February 1st. Puck drop is 7:30.

Friday, 24 January 2014


"You can see the team is really starting to formulate, I'm pretty happy." - Trail Smoke Eaters head coach Nick Deschenes on Monday January 21st 2014.


forr·mu·late [fawr-myuh-leyt] verb (used with object), for·mu·lat·ed, for·mu·lat·ing.

to express in precise form; state definitely or systematically: He finds it extremely difficult to formulate his new theory.

to devise or develop, as a method, system, etc.

to reduce to or express in a formula.

Just like he did for the KIJHL's Grand Forks Border Bruins, Deschenes has implemented a system, a method, for this Smoke Eaters club.

He is developing these players to compete in the British Columbia Hockey Leauge - as a team.

The Smokies are coming off a weekend where they earned three points in three road games against three tough opponents.

Last Friday, they topped the defending BCHL champion Surrey Eagles, that was followed by an impressive OT loss to the Mainland division's first place Langley Riverman.Unfortunately, they ran out of gas Sunday - due to illness and injury - and were steamrolled 7-2 by the Coquitlam Express.

This follow recent impressive outings against top teams like Penticton (they lead the Vees 2-0 earlier this month but fell 3-2), West Kelowna (a club they were about 90 seconds away from beating) and Vernon (who they did beat and is hosting the RBC Cup this year).

Deschenes' first weekend behind the bench saw the club snap a10 losing skid. Even at that time he said the team still had a lot of adversity infront of them.

And with a lot of players being moved out and brought in by Deschenes, creating traction can be even harder. (Only 10 players remain from the roster that started the season.)

Anyway, the Smokies will continue to try to right the ship by earning their second win against Surrey in seven days.

The Eagles comes in with a road record of 7-14-0-1 and fresh off their first win in six games.

Trail has only one four of their 20 appearances at Cominco Arena this season, something they will look to improve with only five home games left after Friday.

Join us for a 7:30PM puck drop at Cominco Arena or watch live at or listen for free at

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Tough loss lends small victories

The Trail Smoke Eaters were up 2-0 at one point Saturday night against one of the league's top teams - the Penticton Vees. However, they would not be able to hold on and had the unfortunate fate of a 3-2 loss on home ice.

"You know, we're happy [with the effort], we want guys who want to play in Trail. [Guys] who are going to play with pride and passion, [guys] who are going to bring some energy and I think that's what we saw," said Assistant Coach Craig Clare as the team's overhauled roster tries to create some chemistry.

Only 10 players remain from the original 22 that dawned the orange and black at the beginning of the season.

Ironically, AP foward Riley Brandt would act as a spark plug for the Trail Smoke Eaters, opening the scoring with three minutes left in the first frame.

Brandt started the season with the team but was released last month and rejoined the 2011-2012 KIJHL champion Beaver Valley Nite Hawks. Upon his return, B.V lost the first game with Brandt back in the lineup, but then won 10 straight. A stretch where the feisty forward had 12 points.

"[Riley] had a heck of a game, really good game!" claimed Clare. "He's been in B.V [and has been playing] really well."

We'll get back to Riley in a second, unfortunately.

The only thing Trail did wrong in the second period was give a good team, too many good opportunities. The Vees showered Smokies netminder Adam Todd with 20 shots in the second, getting three past him.

The rest would seem like it didn't matter, but it did.

For a young team with very little identity and a last place record to stay even and compete with the division top squad who is looking to make a run at their third straight BCHL championship final is nothing to ignore.

Ultimately however, and it might be odd to say, one of the best signs for this club during Saturday's  defeat was when Head Coach Nick Deschenes was ejected in the dying moments of the third period.

Deschenes was very vocal when referee Mike Boisvert made no call after forward Riley Brandt's head was drilled into the glass by 6'3" Penticton blueliner Christopher Rygus, leaving Brandt laying on the ice and bleeding from the forehead.

Boisvert didn't skate to the Smokies' bench when Deschenes demanded an answer to why no penalty was called.

But it didn't matter. No matter what answer the Smoke Eaters bench boss was given it wasn't going to matter.

Deschenes was making a point. He hadn't given up on the game. With 40 seconds left in the third period, down a goal to the Interior's best team and robbed of a penalty, he wanted to show to his players, that now matter what the circumstances - he will not give up.

It wouldn't be surprising if that idea crossed the mind of many people in and around that dressing room this season - giving up.

And even with a 4-15-2-1 record at Cominco Arena and just eight wins in 42 outings this season, Deschenes heart is very much in it and wearing it on his sleeve isn't necessarily a bad thing right now, as it shows his players, during this tough time, he cares.

Rygus was suspended for two games by the BCHL for his hit on Brandt.

The Smokies kick off a three game road trip Friday when they visit the defending league champion Surrey Eagles, followed by stops in Langley and Coquitlam.

They return back to Cominco Arena Friday January 24th to, once again, face Surrey.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Unlucky 13.

By the time 10PM rolled around Monday night, there weren't many smiles leaving Cominco Arena.

Just moments before, the Silver City faithful believed they were going to see their Smokies snap a 12 game losing skid and ring in 2014 with a clean slate.

The West Kelowna Warriors had different plans.

With one minute and 23 seconds left in regulation, Trail leading 3-1, the Warriors fired one by Smokies' puck stopper Adam Todd.


Not even half a minute later, they did it again.


The game needed overtime after West K out shot Trail 22-7 in the third period.

It would in fact end in tragedy for the orange and black when Warriors forward Liam Blackburn netted his eighth goal of the year and completed the stunning comeback.

"I pretty much felt the worst for the players," said Trail head coach Nick Deschenes. "We've been trying to push for a win now for awhile. We had it in our grasps and we let it go."

For a dressing room that has been constantly changing since Deschenes arrival at the beginning of November, consistently can be a tricky thing.

It hasn't stopped - Deschenes added two more names to his roster this week.

He has gone back to the VIJHL for talent, picking up two 17 year olds: forward Braeden Cross and defenseman Taylor Armbruster from the Kerry Park Islanders.

Cross had 11 goals and 40 points in 32 games for the Islanders this season.

"He's one of their top scorers. Where looking to him for some offensive contributions."

Deschenes expects a role to be filled by the 6'3" blueliner as well.

"[Armbruster's] got good size. [He was] pursued by other Junior A teams at the start of the season [but] was injured," explains the Smokies bench boss. "For where we are as a group, he's going to be a welcome edition. He's another piece of the puzzle to get us moving ahead for next year."

They'll both be in the lineup when Trail faces Vernon Friday night.

"We're sticking to the plan. We are getting younger. The learning curve is hopefully going to be as steap as possible. We're just asking for the effort and the commitment. It will take time but things are moving in a positive direction for sure."

The Vipers come into the match having not played since December 21st - a 7-2 loss to the Powell River Kings.

The Vipers are 10-7-0-1 on the road, a slight contrast to their 10-3-3-3 resume at Kal Tire Place.

If the Smokies would have held on Monday, it would have been only their fourth win at Cominco Arena this season.

Trail has not only struggled in their own building so far this season, they've struggled against Vernon.

Trail has played Vernon four times this season, and the Vipers have won every match. (With three out of the four meeting ending in a 6-3 decision oddly enough.)

"I think we have to outwork and outplay [Vernon] and attack them," explained Deschenes who believes they have to take away their opponents' space and then win the little battles. "They've got a bigger group [who are] more experienced. There's no secret we are the underdogs and we have to play like it."

The two teams are on much different paths right now.

Trail has already shifted their focus to building for the 2014-2015 season.

Vernon is not only chasing Penticton for first in the BCHL's Interior Division (sitting five points back heading into Friday) but in the back of their mind they know they host the RBC Cup this year - a tournament to determine Canada's best Junior A team.

Nick Deschenes would like his Smokies to be heading in that direction. To do that, they have to learn from the experiences like Monday's loss.

"We're looking forward. We're not looking backwards. That's been the mantra here...that we are going to maximize the night eight weeks here, and [Friday] is another opportunity for us," Deschenes declared.

Puck drop is 7:30 at Cominco arena.

Broadcast starts at 7:20 which you can watch live at or listen for free at