Smoke Eaters Training Camp Expected to be Highly Competitive

smoke eaters logo

Tim Fragle expects a highly competitive training camp.

The Head Coach and GM of the Trail Smoke Eaters is looking forward to assessing the 50 players during six training camp games Fri. and Sat. and said no spots on the pre-season roster are guaranteed.

“If we acquired a player in a trade that doesn’t mean he has a free pass, he has to come and compete and earn his spot as well,” said Fragle.

There are several new faces following the 2021 pod-season, including Minnesota recruits, Luke Johnson, Zack Michaelis and Teddy Lagerback at forward, as well as Evan Bushy on defense. They all have NCAA commitments lined up for the future.

The Smokies also signed 18-year-old defenseman Ethan Warrener, while trading for 20-year-old goaltender Evan Fradette and 19-year-old forward Christian Lowe.  Fragle also honoured the request of Chase Dafoe, moving the team captain to Blackfalds of the A-J-H-L so he could player closer to home.  

Fragle likes how the young players performed during the prospects camp and is anxious to see how they stack up against the veterans.

“Are they close to being ready for this level of hockey at the BCHL level, or do they need another year of seasoning at lower levels of hockey? You know, that’s the exciting part about camp I guess, we’ll stayed tuned this weekend and see how everybody performs,” said the bench boss.

Fragle plans to trim the roster to about 28 players following Sunday morning’s intra-squad game, meaning there isn’t a lot of time for players “on the bubble” to prove they deserve a look when the level of play ramps up during pre-season contests.

Fragle feels the best way to make those decisions is to see players in game action, which was limited last season because of the pandemic.

“The year after COVID there were a lot of practices going on and from our perspective I think everybody’s eager to get back and play games and that’s what we’re focussed on, evaluating here through main camp,” said Fragle.

The team made two front office moves this week, with the hiring of former Smoke Eater player Dallas Calvin as an assistant coach and the promotion of assistant Dustin Korlak to associate coach and director of player development.

The Smoke Eaters have also announced all fans will need B-C vaccination cards proving they have had two shots and photo I-D to get into pre-season games.

Masks will also be mandatory and fans will have to stay in their seats, while also maintaining social distancing at concessions and refreshment booths.

Cominco Arena capacity for pre-season games will be capped at 50%.

Single game tickets for pre-season games go on sale Mon., with the first exhibition game against Cranbrook set for Fri. Sept. 24 in Trail.

Single game ticket sales for the regular season begin Oct. 1, with the Smokies hosting the Bucks in the regular season home opener Sat. Oct. 9.