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GAME DAY – Smoke Eaters begin pre-season against the Bucks

It’s been one of the longest breaks in Trail Smoke Eaters history, with 214 days from when the Smoke Eaters completed the sweep against Prince George on March 3rd. Now 7 months later they will hit the ice against their newest rivals, the Cranbrook Bucks. While the Bucks will have an entirely new roster to debut as an expansion team, the Smoke Eaters will be fielding a lineup with many new faces themselves.

Upcoming Games:

Oct. 3 Cranbrook 7:00 pm @ Trail Memorial Centre
Oct. 10 Cranbrook 7:00 pm @ Trail Memorial Centre
Oct. 16 Cranbrook 7:00 pm @ Trail Memorial Centre (Kootenay Cup Game)
Oct. 17 Cranbrook 7:00 pm @ Trail Memorial Centre (Kootenay Cup Game)
Oct. 24 at Cranbrook 6:00 pm @ Western Financial Place (Kootenay Cup Game)
Oct. 30 at Cranbrook 6:00 pm @ Western Financial Place (Kootenay Cup Game)
Nov. 6 Cranbrook 7:00 pm @ Trail Memorial Centre (Kootenay Cup Game)
Nov. 7 at Cranbrook 6:00 pm @ Western Financial Place (Kootenay Cup Game)
Nov. 15 Prince George 3:00 pm @ Trail Memorial Centre
Nov. 18 Merritt 7:00 pm @ Trail Memorial Centre
Nov. 27 at Cranbrook 6:00 pm @ Western Financial Place (Kootenay Cup Game)

A new rivalry will be born as these two Kootenay sides take the ice tonight, while it is just a pre-season game, you can bet that neither team wants to sacrifice the first game. That being said, both coaches will also understand this game for what it is, an exhibition game that’s more about development and building good habits than the result. Second year guys like Chase Dafoe, Jaden Senkoe and Logan Terness, just to name a few, will be itching at the opportunity to play tonight and prove what they can bring and produce in their second season in the BCHL. Whereas new guys like Jackson Krill, Quinn Disher, Connor Michaud and Nic Roussel will be just as eager to prove themselves. For new head coach Tim Fragle, it will be his unofficial BCHL debut on the Smoke Eaters bench.

The Bucks will come to Cominco looking to prove themselves tonight. Led by the former Yale head coach Ryan Donald, the Bucks would love nothing more than to come into the home of their Kootenay rivals and play spoiler. Cranbrook is going to be a young team. With just two 20-year-old players to help lead their young core, this is definitely a team that is built for the future, but also has the talent to be competitive right now, making them a dangerous team. As Bucks President Nathan Lieuwen said earlier this week on The Smoke Show podcast, with the amount of work that has gone into recruiting and building this team, it’s going to be a special feeling to see the team hit the ice tonight in Trail.

Inside the Game:

There are three storylines to watch for in tonight’s game, the first is the return of Ryan Donald, who was briefly the Smoke Eaters assistant coach and assistant general manager before being offered the NCAA job at Yale in October of 2015. Now five years later, he makes his return, this time standing on the opposing team’s bench. The second is the debut of Tim Fragle. This will be his first game back at the Junior A level after four years coaching at the collegiate level and his first game with the Smoke Eaters since the 1999/2000 season when he was playing. Finally it’s the returning guys, many of whom are in elevated roles coming into their second year. How will they adapt to their new roles, and how quickly can they build chemistry with their new teammates.

It’s game one of the Smoke Eaters exhibition schedule, after a long break, hockey is back! Fans are still unable to attend these games in person but you can catch the game on HockeyTV or on Mixlr starting at 6:50 pm as Ben Phillips and Rob Squires will set this game up for you.