New Trail Smoke Eaters general manager and head coach Tim Fragle is feeling very excited about being back in the West Kootenay community. However, Fragle and his wife are still in the process of relocating from Edmonton during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Being an alumnus of the Smoke Eaters, Fragle has always followed the team’s exploits, although he admits starting to follow more closely over the last few years. “With Rich and Annie Murphy buying the Smoke Eaters back in 2016, they changed the landscape of the franchise,” said Fragle, noting the team keeps improving with each passing season. It plays a big part in why Fragle is excited to return to his old stomping grounds from the days of a player to now being the one to pass on his knowledge to the next generation.
“The West Kootenay area of BC is great in many ways,” said Fragle. He is looking forward to working with everybody involved with the organization and being a part of the community.
Coming to Trail, Fragle brings some pretty impressive accolades with him. One is a gold medal as head coach at the 2015 World Junior A Challenge with Canada West. He also has four first-place finishes and three coach of the year awards over four seasons with the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology Ooks in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference.
Fragle is proud of his history of developing players for all levels of hockey including the National Hockey League, pro hockey overseas, NCAA, and U Sports. Seeing as Trail has a good track record of players going on to college hockey over the years, it will be interesting to see the Smoke Eaters grow as a team as well as individuals with Fragle at the helm.
Fragle takes great pride in passing his knowledge on and helping young gentlemen grow on and off the ice. He feels respecting each other despite differences will help the team grow as a band of brothers.
Consistency in play
Turning to his philosophy on the game, Fragle buys into the idea of having a three-goal lead is the worst to have in hockey. “It can be a scary lead, especially if a team happens to be fragile.”
“The trick is to be comfortable playing with the lead, regardless if it’s by one, two, or three for that matter. It’s being consistent regardless if the team is leading or trailing,” Fragle added.
Having been on both sides as a player and as a coach, Fragle feels momentum is key. “When the team is able to get momentum to kick in, they are able to ride it where they need to be taken. Whether it be a timely goal, a power play, a hit, a blocked shot or even a timely save to get the crowd involved can be a big boost for morale.”
“The important thing is to not change the way the team plays and to build confidence in the style of play which can take time depending on how well the team chemistry is. When the team meshes well together with the style of play, things tend to run smoothly.”
The Smoke Eaters have made it to the second round of the playoffs in each of the last four years, a legacy that Fragle hopes to build on in his first BCHL season behind the bench in Trail.