The hardware was handed out Tuesday night at the Silver City's Riverbelle. Forward Scott Davidson was the standout from the 2013/2014 season picking up two awards. Just prior to the recipients being named I was able to say a quick word about each player based on watching them at home this season. For both goaltenders, Adam Todd and Dustin Nikkel, I tried to make it clear that I thought these were the two best players in orange and black throughout the season, and both Adam and Dustin gave the team a chance to win every night. So it was good to see them recognized. Here are all the winners:
ED SHELLY AWARD (hard work and perseverance) - Scott Davidson
MOST IMPROVED - Jake Lucchini
MOST DEDICATED - Brandon Volpe
MOST INSPIRATIONAL - Scott Davidson
FAN FAVORITE - Adam Wheeldon
TOP ROOKIE - Bryan Basilico
TOP DEFENSEMAN - Joel Webb
SCHOLASTIC AWARD - Greyson Reitmeter
Coaches' Unsung Hero(es) - Dustin Nikkel and Adam Todd
Special recognition: Tiger Milburn, who has been doing the P.A at Cominco Arena for 50 years. (I just wanted to say that no matter what is happening around the team, Tiger always seemed to brighten everyone's day and always had a smile on his face, that made it impossible for you to not have a smile on your face.)
Only three games left on the schedule for the Trail Smoke Eaters, two of them under the roof of Cominco Arena.
The Smokies welcome the Vernon Vipers Wednesday night who sit third in the division with a record of 30-16-4-6, which has made them the third team in the Interior Division to clinch a postseason birth (Merritt just needs one more win to grab the fourth and final ticket).
The Vipers are 13-10-1-3 on the road and are currently the hottest team in the BCHL having won five in a row.
If either Penticton or West Kelowna (who currently both have 74 points for first) lose their two final games and Vernon extends its winning streak to seven to end the season, the Vipers could move into a three way tie for the most points in the Interior Division, but I do believe the top spot would be awarded to the Vees, who would finish with the most wins.
Nonetheless, the Smokies aren't really concerned about all that as they coming into this three-game-finale with their focus directed more internally.
"It's been an audition [for the players] for two months. They got three games left, right? It's a big part of what's going to happen in the future for them in this organization," said assistant coach Craig Clare after I asked him what these final three outings mean for guys looking to come back next year. "These kind of games seperate the guys that are playing to improve and playing for the pride of the jersey."
Trail has lost 12 straight and boasts a dismal record on home ice, 4-18-2-2 and are still looking for the elusive 10th win on the season. But as president Tom Gawryletz pointed out at the dinner, there's nothing wrong with being happy about getting three wins in three final games. And it would be nice to share that with the Smoke Eaters faithful who have been starved for success this year.
"For the way this year has gone, we've had very good fan support so we are looking to [pay them back] and rewarded them with a win."
The orange and black will play their final home guy Friday against the West Kelowna Warriors before wrapping up the regular season in West Kelowna Saturday.