Each month the Smoke Eaters will highlight a former Smoke Eater and update you on where they are now. This month, Trail native, defenceman Travis Gawryletz.
Smoke Eaters Career:
Played 2001-2003 – 113 Games played – 13 Goals and 50 Assists.
Currently a linesman in the NHL, Travis Gawryletz played two full seasons with the Smoke Eaters and AP’d for 6 games during the 2001-02 season while he played with the Beaver Valley Nighthawks of the KIJHL. Gawrlyletz put up 63 points as a defenceman for the Smoke Eaters earning him a BCHL Interior first team All-Star nod in ’03. He then continued his hockey career by being drafted in the eighth round of the NHL draft by the Philadelphia Flyer and moving on to the University of Minnesota Duluth where he played 140 more games. The younger brother to Brandon Gawryletz (also an NHL Official), Travis says his brother played a big role in where he is now.
A: “It has been 6 years since I hung up the skates, I was ready to move on with life but I didn’t know what that meant exactly. I was willing to try any line of work, just get a job and go from there. After a few let downs a friend recommended I try and get on with Tolko, a sawmill in Kelowna. I landed the job and turned out my foreman was Murray Caton, father of former Smoke Eater Blaine Caton. It was honest work but I felt I had more to offer. I started studying to get my 4th class power engineering ticket as the mill also had a steam plant. I was fortunate enough to get moved over there once I was certified. During these few years I watched as my brother Brandon was hired to the NHL. I would watch his games and think how good an opportunity it was to get back involved with hockey, the sport I loved. With my brothers encouragement I gave it a shot, and a couple years later I was hired as a NHL linesman.”
A: “When I think back to my two seasons in trail, there are a lot of great memories and and off the ice. We had good teams so we were always competitive. Competing in the playoffs was always a highlight for me, the intensity is at another level and brings out the best in everyone. Our group of guys were together all the time away from the rink, I think that played a big roll in our on ice success. That season there were also a lot of guys from Trail on the team, so growing up playing with them and then being together on the Smokies is pretty cool to look back on.”
Q: If you could pass on some advice to today’s group of Smoke Eaters what would it. What is something you wish you had known when you were playing?
A: “I think most of the young men playing in the BCHL today are hopeful to earn a scholarship and continue their playing career at the collegiate level. I would encourage them to work on the little aspects of their game and individual skills before or after practice. Those little things can make a big difference during the course of a season and not only will it help you but help your team.If there was something that could have helped me earlier in my playing career that I learned later on, is that you can’t get to high or to low. When you make mistakes or wish you would have done something differently on the ice, you need to learn from it and move on. The great thing about hockey is that if you make a mistake, you have the opportunity to bounce back right away. Letting one bad shift negatively affect your next one can be detrimental to your development and confidence. The game is just as mental as it is physical.”