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Alumni Report – Garrett McMullen

The Trail Smoke Eaters have a long standing history not only in the City of Trail, but in junior and international hockey. With that history comes a long list of alumni who have gone on to play college hockey, play or work in the NHL or follow another passion in life once their Smoke Eater career comes to end.

This month, the Smoke Eaters are highlighting alumni Garrett McMullen, who played two years in Trail between 2011-13 and captained the Smoke Eaters during the 2012-13 season.

McMullen, now 28 and graduated from post secondary, came to Trail through a trade in his first season in the BCHL. Originally recruited by Powell River, the Churchville, New York, native started the season in the USHL. When things didn’t work out there he reported to Powell River, where a full roster had him on the outside looking in. It wasn’t too long before the opportunity to come to Trail arose and thus he became a Smoke Eater. In 53 games he would score 17 goals and add 19 assists for a 36 point rookie season. On top of that he was named an assistant captain prior to the Christmas break.

Q: Since you finished playing hockey at RIT, where has life taken you, what have you been up to since you finished playing college hockey? Do you have plans to get back into the game at some point?

A: Since completing my playing career at RIT, I’ve started working full time as a Packaging Engineer.  I moved to Boston, Massachusetts following graduation in 2017 to begin my career.  Since then, I’ve moved back to my hometown of Rochester, New York working for a Beverage Consultant Firm.  Hockey will forever be my true passion and I aspire to get back into the game as a player scout or junior/college coach down the road. Maybe even in the BCHL would be exceptional.

Entering his 20-year-old season McMullen would add another 44 points to his BCHL career stats, on top of being named team captain. He also was named the recipient of the Ed Shelly Memorial Trophy, an award given out annually to the player that during this past season provided leadership, combined with dedication, sportsmanship, and inspiration to his teammates

Q: What did being a captain mean to you?

A: Being named captain of the Smokies by Bill Birks was a pivotal moment in my hockey career for sure. It pushed me to be better as a player, but also to lead the younger group with confidence. Leadership is so important at any level, but especially in junior hockey because of the age.  Being there for my teammates on the ice was important but also being there off the ice for them as well. I can remember plenty of coffee dates or wing nights with guys talking about life or other off ice struggles. Overall, it made us tighter on the ice.

During his senior year in Trail, McMullen earned himself a NCAA Division 1 scholarship to play at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in his hometown. Something that had been a goal of his for many years. There he would play four years totaling 119 regular season games and claiming two Atlantic Hockey Association (AHA) division titles.

Photo Credit: Omar Phillips
Q: You’re a 2 time NCAA AHA Champion, What was that experience like. How hard is it to win at the college level? 
A: Winning the Atlantic Hockey title back-to-back is hands down my most treasured hockey experience.  Not only were those seasons important to me, but to the RIT Men’s hockey program as a whole.  Advancing to the NCAA Tournament two years in a row really exemplified RIT’s hockey culture on a national stage.  Winning at the college level, regardless of the conference, is hard to do.  Upsetting the #1 seed Minnesota-Manako as the #16 seed underdog in 2015 to advance to Elite 8 proved it really is any team’s tournament.  As a player during those moments of success, I just tried to live in the moment and enjoy the time with teammates, coaches, staff, family & friends.

Q: When you look back at your Smoke Eaters career what moment would you highlight or be your best memories? 

A: A game at the end of the 2011-12 season against the Penticton Vees really comes to mind.  We were hunting for the last playoff spot and had a back to back in Cominco with the Vees to end the regular season. Penticton was on their way to a historic season that year. If I can recall correctly, we needed all 4 points to keep our playoff chances alive.  I was able to get sprung in on a breakaway in overtime and scored to secure the 2-points and keep our season alive.  I can remember that being one of the best feelings celebrating that big win with the boys and coaching staff.  I still can remember how excited the fans got after we won that game. 

Q: What made being a Smoke Eater special or memorable to you?

A: Being a kid from Western New York, Trail and the BCHL as a whole, was really unknown to me until maybe my last year of prep school.  I made a few pit stops along the way but found a home in Trail and fell in love with the organization.  I think the rich hockey history makes playing at Cominco and wearing the Smoke Eater jersey very special.  The city of Trail is home to some of the nicest people out there which made living 4,000km away from home easy. The quality of people surrounding the Smoke Eater organization made the transition seamless and created a great atmosphere to develop on the ice as a player in addition to a person in the community.  

Q: If you could pass on some advice to today’s group of Smoke Eaters what would it be. What is something you wish you had known when you were playing?

A: My advice to the group this year would be to take nothing for granted and play every game like it’s your last. Junior hockey will provide some of your most cherished memories in life, without a doubt. I promise.  Being in Trail provided me with lifelong friends and connections in the hockey world.  Soak up the long bus rides with the boys, hang out as much as you can together off the ice, enjoy every home win celebrating in the locker room with the fellas and battle on the ice for each other with all you got. Go Smoke Eaters! 

McMullen said that he visits Trail each year where he meets up with his billets and other friends that are still in the area and always tries to catch a Smoke Eaters game when he can.