The Trail Smoke Eaters added more local flavour to the mix with the commitment of Montrose native Tyler Ghirardosi.
“It’s definitely exciting,” said Ghirardosi. “I had a lot of fun when I AP’d a couple games (with the Smoke Eaters). I’ve seen what everything’s about in the dressing room and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”
The six-foot-two 17-year-old forward brings skill and speed to the Smokies front end but also size and grit. Ghirardosi netted 14 goals and 31 points in an injury-plagued season for the Beaver Valley Nitehawks in the KIJHL, and added 76 minutes in penalties in just 29 games.
“We’re extremely excited and honoured to have Tyler as part of our hockey organization,” said Smoke Eater coach and GM Cam Keith. “He possibly could have played for us this year, but I think it was beneficial for him to play in Beaver Valley for another year and earn that experience of being one of the go-to guys.”
Ghirardosi shone in the playoffs for the Nitehawks netting 20 points in 20 games on their way to the KIJHL and Cyclone Taylor Cup titles, and in the Keystone Cup in April, he scored six goals and 10 points in six games, as BV lost the final 4-3 in overtime to the Wainwright Bisons.
“We know that kids that come from Beaver Valley’s program, their habits and the way they play the game kind of suits the way that we play the game as well, and you saw that with Tyler when he got called up last year, he barely missed a beat,” said Keith. “He fit right in and I played him in top-line situations and he didn’t look out of place.”
Ghirardosi played in six games as an AP for the Smoke Eaters and was particularly effective down the stretch for Trail when injury sidelined seven of their starting players. The J. L. Crowe student helped out with two assists in his six appearances, but his poise and effort showed the Smokies’ coach that Ghirardosi was more than ready to play in the BCHL.
“He has size, a high hockey IQ, toughness and grit,” said Keith. “But his calmness and his ease of playing in situations where most kids his age would be nervous to play, nothing really affected him. As the game got more physical, Tyler excelled in those situations.”
Ghirardosi joins Trail’s Jeremy Lucchini, Rossland’s Ross Armour, and Montrose’s Spencer McLean as part of the local contingent on the Smoke Eaters, an important element for Keith, a Nelson native, and the Smoke Eater staff.
“He is a complete player, he really is, and when you tie that in with being a local kid it really puts the ribbon on the present,” added Keith. “We’re just really excited to have him come in and also seeing his family come in here and buy season’s tickets, it just adds to the excitement, and being happy that you can give a local kid this kind of opportunity.”
Smoke Signals: The Smoke Eaters season ticket deal is winding down with just three days remaining before the 28-game season pass for $199 expires on May 14. A season’s pass after that will increase to $299.
Of Special Note, the Smoke Eaters will unveil their team captain for the 2017-18 season this weekend, and players will be in town to participate in Silver City Days festivities such as the parade, the Sidewalk Cafe, and refereeing the 3-on-3 hockey tournament.