Trail Smoke Eaters supporters should brace themselves for an exciting season as Trail’s recruiting results continue to cash in.
Trail committed highly-touted 18-year-old forward Levi Glasman and 17-year-old defenceman Olson Werenka from the Alberta Midget ranks.
Glasman is a speedy six-foot-two, 170-pound forward who played for the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs last season in the Alberta AAA Midget Hockey League.
Smoke Eater coach and GM Cam Keith scouted Glasman at the Macs AAA Midget Tournament in Calgary where the Red Deer native led Chiefs scorers with four goals and seven points in five games.
“You can tell he has all the intangibles to be a pro-hockey player one day,” said Keith. “He shoots, thinks the game, has incredible speed, and willingness to get to areas you don’t see in Midget aged kids.”
Glasman led the Optimist Chiefs in scoring with 15 goals and 23 assists, finishing fourth in Alberta league scoring, two points out of top spot. His size and play-making ability are reminiscent of another Red Deer native, Smoke Eaters forward Kale Howarth, and like Howarth did two years ago, Glasman impressed the Smoke Eaters coaching staff at their Spring Camp last month.
“He came into spring camp and he looked like a veteran, and you could tell right away that this kid can play in the league and make an immediate impact,” said Keith.
The addition of six-foot-three, 200 pound Werenka from the Calgary International Hockey Academy will also bring needed size and offensive prowess to the Smokies backend.
“He’s a kid that had a really good year at the CSSHL last year, had 22 points in 28 games, and 123 pims (penalty minutes) so he brings an element of toughness to his game as well,” said Keith.
After falling to the Vernon Vipers and their towering and intimidating defence in the playoffs, the Smokies coaching staff looks to beef up the backend in order to kick up the compete level.
“We saw how Vernon’s defence were and how they controlled the play in the playoffs, so we knew we needed to get bigger and tougher on the back end, so he (Werenka) is a big piece for that.”
Werenka also boasts an exceptional pedigree, as his father Brad Werenka played eight seasons of pro hockey with the Edmonton Oilers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Calgary Flames and their affiliates in the American Hockey League.
The addition of Glasman and former Cariboo Cougars forward Daine Dubois give the Smokies a bounty of talent up front with the expected return of Howarth, Ross Armour, Spencer McLean, Blaine Caton, Andre Ghantous, Ryan Moon, Ryan Murphy, Korbyn Chabot, and Braedon Tuck.
Werenka’s commitment along with six-foot-three d-man Seth Barton earlier this week inject size and skill into a Smokies blueline that has only a couple spots up for grabs given the anticipated return of the Smoke Eater veterans.
The big question remains in the crease. Linden Marshall’s return looks less likely, which leaves the Smokies searching for an experienced puck stopper to start and a younger backup.
While Keith has a good idea of who will fill some of those positions, with camps still set for Whitehorse this month and the Main Camp in August, no position is guaranteed.
“You never know who’s going to make your team, like Ryan Moon was never suppose to make it and he bumped out some kids that I had committed to,” said Keith. “So we still take the best 23 players who come into camp, it doesn’t matter if you played here last year, or you have a commitment … you still have to show up.”
Smoke Signals: Fans have just over a week to take advantage of the slashed season ticket pricing. The $199 for a single season ticket or $299 family-flex deal goes until May 14.