Update-Smokies Hit the Road, Sign Players, and Name Assistant Captains
The Trail Smoke Eaters hope to clinch the Kootenay Cup during this weekend's doubleheader in Cranbrook.
But Coach and GM Tim Fragle feels it's more important for the roster of 25 players to experience the first road trip of the preseason.
“It’s been difficult to do the team building you normally do and one of the big things obviously for team chemistry is getting out on the bus together and getting into a hotel and some sort of normalcy where you can get to know each other a little better,” said Fragle who added the smaller roster will allow the coaching staff to assess on-ice chemistry.
“Now that we’re into November we want to get some chemistry going in our line combinations and d- (defense) pairings,” said Fragle who also wants to see how the rookies fit in.
“We do have to sprinkle in and see some of our younger players too, so there will be some roster moves, just not as drastic as we were dealing with in October,” said the bench boss who plans to make a couple moves for each game instead of switching about ten players in and our of their lineups in consecutive games last month.
The Smokies lead the Kootenay Cup series 2-1 and Fragle stressed as much as they are hoping to complete the sweep this weekend, the priority is finding the right roster and preparing for the regular season slated to start Dec. 1.
However, he noted with each team reducing their rosters, the level of play will increase and it’s important to see who can thrive at the higher pace.
Meanwhile number-one goalie Logan Turness has committed to the University of Connecticut after being named BCHL rookie of the year in 2019-20 following a season that produced 27 victories, a 2.36 goals against average of .932 save percentage.
Fragle said this year’s rookie goalie has been the big surprise of training camp and preseason.
“Cayden Hamming, our first year goalie, is a 17-year-old, he’s come in and played very well” said Fragle who added the young puck-stopper stepped up his game when exhibition contests started.
“We liked him through our I-D camp and through our extended training camp, but once you play another team, you get a good gauge and he’s been really good in net,” said Fragle.
Hamming who has an impressive 1.16 GAA and .964 Save Percentage in the preseason has signed with the team.
The Smoke Eaters have also signed 18-year-old defenseman Ethan Floris who has been paired with captain Cody Schiavon during preseason games.
Meanwhile second-year forwards Connor Sweeney and Chase Dafoe have been named assistant captains.
The team has also added a second player on loan from the WHL. Forward Ben King started skating with the Smokies earlier this week and will play this weekend. The 18-year-old will return to Red Deer Rebels once the Rebels training camp opens in late December.
Both games Friday and Saturday can be seen on Hockey TV beginning at 6pm.