PHOTO: Damon James/BCHL
Coming from the Okanagan Rockets of the BC Major Midget League, forward Chase Dafoe brings a big body that can skate well and will not shy down from physical play. The 6’3”, 190-pound left-shot also has plenty of offensive flare, finishing 11th in scoring in the Major Midget League, compiling 19 goals and 30 assists for 49 points while captaining a Rockets team that fell short of their ultimate goal, bowing out in the opening round of the playoffs to the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds.
Although the end result wasn’t what Dafoe and his teammates were looking for, it was a season in which he will never forget, “It was a great experience being named as captain as a 16-year-old with the majority of my teammates as older guys. I definitely learnt a lot of lessons from them and how to be a leader to some of the older and younger guys on our team and really helped prepare me for the next level.”
“It wasn’t the result we wanted but I’d say we had a successful season, playing on a line with Colby (Elmer) was a lot of fun and we were able to put up some pretty good numbers as well as having Corey (McCann) out there playing well so it was definitely a fun year and one to remember.”
Elmer and McCann each committed to the team at the same time as Dafoe, who is excited to have a pair of his teammates and close friends join him in Junior hockey, “We all went down on the first recruiting trip together and we all loved Trail the second we got there. Having those two guys come to Trail and join the team as well made me feel better about my decision and makes the transition a bit easier.”
“I’ve known Corey for about five or six years now and we have played together for a long time, going back to our time at the Okanagan Hockey Academy and Colby and I played a lot of the season on a line together and had a lot of fun times so it’s going to be really easy coming in with those guys.”
PHOTO: Damon James/BCHL
The transition from Major Midget to Junior will be helped by Dafoe getting eight games in with the Smokies a year ago and providing two goals in that process. Knowing the landscape of the locker room and some of the players from last year’s team is a valuable asset, “Coming into this season, it almost feels like I’m a second-year guy even though I was only in Trail for about three weeks. Getting to know the guys as well as the coaches and the staff makes for an easy transition and having a great billet family in Paul & Stacey Mailey makes it that much easier as well.”
Dafoe made a few trips to Trail last season and got into a game at the Trail Memorial Centre, where he tallied his second career goal and can’t get enough of the city, “One of the things I love about Trail is how involved of a city it is. Everyone in town knows you’re a Smoke Eater and it will be pretty cool having everyone know who you are and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Although the season doesn’t begin for another three months, Dafoe is in a full swing of training and getting on the ice to work on his game, “I took a week off after our season was finished but it didn’t take long for me to miss getting on the ice and working out so I’m skating twice a week with a group of guys and we work out five times a week as well. Our trainer, Ryan Aynsley, went and played at the University of Northern Michigan and knows what it takes to get players to that next level.”
Dafoe and the rest of the Smoke Eaters will be in Trail for the team’s Main Camp at the end of August while season tickets for the 2019/20 campaign are available for purchase at the Smoke Eaters office, which is open 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM Monday-Friday as well as online at www.shop.trailsmokeeaters.com.