August 17 marked the beginning of the Trail Smoke Eaters camps for the upcoming 2020-21 season. The Trail Memorial Centre, formerly known as the Cominco Arena, hosts the Trail Smoke Eaters minor hockey developmental camp like the one to set off the end of summer camps leading into the extended training camp the BCHL has established this year due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Minor hockey camp runs for three weeks until September 3. The field is open for U9, U11, U13, U15, and U18. Only 20 players are selected for each age group and can be accompanied by one parent or guardian in the stands at the arena. Selected players get to work closely with the coaching staff and trainers from the Smoke Eaters. Classes are held in the morning for the younger kids, and in the afternoon for the older kids.
The Smoke Eaters hold their identification camp from August 21-23. Junior aged players from Trail and the surrounding areas are able to try out for the BCHL club. Smokies new general manager and head coach Tim Fragle, along with his scouting and hockey operations staff will be in attendance looking for a few stand out players to fill out the remaining spots on the roster or force the team to make a difficult decision regarding a current player.
Junior and senior skills developmental camp then runs for two weeks, set to start August 24-27, and August 31-September 3. Smokies staff will offer skills development to the registrants. As a bonus, the players will have access to the organization’s state of the art, on-site training facilities.
The upcoming weeks are exhilarating for the Smoke Eaters organization as they look forward to putting on the developmental camps. They have high hopes this will help with local prospects being recruited and able to play in front of family and friends.
Extended training camp
As of September 8, training camp will begin as indicated by the league. They will allow all teams to hold an extended version of training camp to keep players in-game shape, continue developing team play, chemistry, and skill development. The camp’s extended timeline is from September 8 to November 30.
The Trail Smoke Eaters have five exhibition games scheduled against the expansion Cranbrook Bucks. No fans will be allowed in attendance due to restrictions on gatherings of more than 50 people, but the games are available on HockeyTV.
The Smoke Eaters hope to set up a few more exhibition games against other Interior Conference rivals and potentially even some from the new Coastal Conference as the addition of Cranbrook has altered the league’s composition from three divisions to two. Unfortunately, fans aren’t allowed into the Trail Memorial Centre to watch practices either.
The players at least aren’t stuck in a bubble-like atmosphere like pro teams are, mostly because the cities don’t have the capacity to isolate their respective organizations. Still, the players and staff do have a list of restrictions they must follow to maintain social distancing and help prevent the spread of COVID-19.