Smokies Open Penticton Pod Play Friday and Name New Captain

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Chase Dafoe is the new captain of the Trail Smoke Eaters.

The team named its leadership group on Thursday as they get ready to leave for Penticton to open a 20-game mini season Good Friday evening against the Vees.

The 19-year-old power forward who proved tough to play against as a BCHL rookie, had 11 goals and 6 assists in 55 regular season games during the 2020-21 season in addition to a goal and an assist during Trail’s four-game sweep of Prince George in the first round of the playoffs, before the post-season got shelved by the pandemic.

The 6’ 3” 187-pound bruiser from Beverley, MA., also had seven points in nine pre-season games before the B-C government shutdown of hockey in November.

Forward Jaden Senkoe will be an assistant captain for all 20 games.

Defenseman Jordan Hendry and forward Coalson Walford will wear “A’s” when the team dons their orange jerseys, while forwards Noah Wakeford and Nicolas Roussel are the black jersey alternate captains.

Friday’s opener will be the Smoke Eaters first game since a 7-6 exhibition win over Merritt on Nov. 18.

Coach and GM Tim Fragle said they will have to make a quick adjustment from practicing for over four months, to playing four games a week.

“We’re in Penticton for 37 days I believe it is, and it’s going to be a grind, so it’s going to be important to get a lot of rest when we’re not playing as well,” said Fragle who is looking at play in the Penticton pod as an audition for next season.

“The players that have been training for us all year, it is their opportunity to show us if they’re going to be a part of the team moving forward, but then there’s a balance because you want to be competitive and win as many games as you can,” said the bench boss.

Fragle added four players earlier this week noting the increased chance of injuries with playing so many games in a short period.

Defenseman Ryan Helliwell and forward Kalen Szeto are with Trail on loan from Langley as the Rivermen opted out of the BCHL’s return to play.

20-year-old Hunter Floris is also suiting up.  The forward with Jr-A experience started the season with the Nelson Leafs before joining the Smokies.

18-year-old defenseman Carson Golder, who comes over from Jr-B Campbell River, has WHL experience with the Victoria Royals.

Trail’s opener against the Vees is 7 p.m. Friday and they take on Cranbrook Sunday at 4 p.m.