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BCHL Next Generation: Trail Smoke Eaters

In the weeks leading up to the start of the 2021-22 regular season, we will be going team-by-team to profile new players coming in for the upcoming year. This will include recaps of offseason commitments and acquisitions, as well as scouting reports from the coaches.

Next up is the Trail Smoke Eaters.

After the 2019-20 season, the Smoke Eaters lost some serious high-end talent with the departure of BCHL MVP and leading scorer Kent Johnson and team captain Philippe Lapointe, who both went off to play their freshman seasons at the University of Michigan. They also lost top scorers Michael Colella and Owen Ozar after that year, so last year’s pod season was a bit of a transition period for the team.

Part of that transition came with a new head coach behind the bench as Tim Fragle took over for Jeff Tambellini who took a job as a pro scout with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

With all the turnover, Fragle still managed to lead the team to a respectable 9-11-0-0 record in the Penticton Pod which put them in second place in the pod standings.

Since then, Fragle and his staff have been busy recruiting players for the 2021-22 campaign. The second-year Smokies coach took some time to give us the lowdown on each new recruit and offseason acquisition.

New recruits

Evan Bushy (2002, D)

  • Hometown: Thief River Falls, Minn.
  • Previous team: Minnesota Wilderness (NAHL)
  • College commitment: St. Cloud State University (2022-23)

Bushy was the second-highest scoring defenceman on the Wilderness last year with 15 points in 52 games. The year prior, he led his prep school team, Thief River Falls High, in overall scoring with 38 points in 25 games.

Fragle’s scouting report:

“Evan is going to help our team immensely. He’s the top-pairing defenceman we’ve been looking to add. He’s going to be able to play in all situations for us.”

Teddy Lagerback (2001, F)

  • Hometown: Chanhassen, Minn.
  • Previous team: Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL)
  • College commitment: Arizona State University (2022-23)

Lagerback had five goals and three assists for eight points last year in 41 games with Waterloo of the USHL. Prior to last year, he played three seasons for Minnetonka High. His final year there in 2019-20, he was named captain and led the team in scoring with 36 points in 25 games.

Fragle’s scouting report:

“Teddy is a player we think can come in and help with our offence. He has the experience of playing in the USHL for a couple years. We’re going to rely on him for some leadership and to provide some offence.”

Zach Michaelis (2002, F)

  • Hometown: Elk River, Minn.
  • Previous team: Minnesota Wilderness (NAHL)
  • College commitment: University of Nebraska-Omaha (2022-23)

Michaelis split last season between Minnesota of the North American Hockey League and the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL. He had 13 points in 29 games for the Wilderness and one goal in 14 contests for Waterloo. In 2019-20, he captained his Elk River High prep school team and led them in scoring with 48 points in 22 games.

Fragle’s scouting report:

“He’s a big power forward who skates really well. He’s going to add to our overall depth up front. We’re hopeful that he can take a step forward offensively as well.”

Joel Barton (2003, D)

  • Hometown: Kelowna, B.C.
  • Previous team: Okanagan Hockey Academy U18 Prep (CSSHL U18)

The brother of former Smoke Eaters standout defenceman and Detroit Red Wings prospect Seth Barton, Joel played the last two seasons in the Okanagan Hockey Academy system and led all OHA Black U18 defencemen in scoring in 2019-20 with 17 points in 36 games. Last year, in a shortened campaign, he put up a goal and three assists in nine games.

Fragle’s scouting report:

“Joel is a player we’ve watched for a number of years. He obviously has ties to our program through his older brother Seth. We really thought he was close last year, but his family decided he should go back and play another year of U18. We’re really excited to have him here this year.”

Ridge Dawson (2004, F)

  • Hometown: Kelowna, B.C.
  • Previous team: Okanagan Hockey Academy U18 Prep (CSSHL U18)

Another Okanagan Hockey Academy product, Dawson had 18 points in 28 games in his last full season in 2019-20 with the OHA Red U18 team. Last year in a shortened season, he tied for the team lead in scoring with 14 points in nine games.

Fragle’s scouting report:

“Ridge is another player out of the OHA who we’ve followed closely for a while here. He’s going to bring some speed and that hard-to-play-against mentality, which is something we really wanted to improve on this year.”

Chris Kobelka (2003, D)

  • Hometown: Calgary, Alta.
  • Previous team: Edge School Prep (CSSHL U18)

Kobelka had five goals and 18 assists for 23 points in 36 games for Edge School in 2019-20. Last year, in just three games, he chipped in with four assists.

Fragle’s scouting report:

“Chris is a player that we’ve watched for a couple years. He’s going to come in and provide some stability. He skates really well and has a high IQ. He can play in all situations.”

Brendan Ross (2003, F)

  • Hometown: Calgary, Alta.
  • Previous team: Calgary Buffaloes U18 AAA (AEHL U18)

Ross had seven points in six games last year in a shortened campaign. In 2019-20, he tied for third in team scoring with 30 points in 32 games.

Fragle’s scouting report:

“He’s a big, right-handed forward. He has a great shot. He’s produced offence at the U18 level in the past. We hope he continues that production here at the BCHL level.”

Adam Parsons (2003, F)

  • Hometown: Port Moody, B.C.
  • Previous team: Vancouver North East Chiefs U18 AAA (BCEHL U18)

Parsons did not get into any significant game action with the Chiefs last year. He most recently suited up for the Kootenay Ice U18 AAA team in 2019-20 and contributed 16 points in 40 games.

Fragle’s scouting report:

“He’s someone with a very high IQ on the ice. He’s a good 200-foot player and someone who I think is going to work his way up our depth chart as the season goes on.”

Josh Schenk (2004, F)

  • Hometown: Whitehorse, Yukon
  • Previous team: Notre Dame Hounds U18 AAA (SMAAAHL)

Schenk had three goals and two assists in six games in a shortened season with the Hounds last year. The year prior with their Elite 15s team, he finished fifth in team scoring with 26 points in 33 games.

Fragle’s scouting report:

“He’s a hard-nose, 200-foot player who is physically developed. He earned his way onto our team out of an ID camp. He’s a player we think has a high ceiling and will only get better as the year goes on.”

Ethan Warrener (2003, D)

  • Hometown: Calgary, Alta.
  • Previous team: Calgary Buffaloes U18 AAA (AEHL U18)

Warrener only played four games last season, but in 2019-20, he produced six goals, nine assists and 15 points in 21 games while playing for the Calgary Buffaloes Hockey Association Rangers U18 AA team.

Fragle’s scouting report:

“Stability comes to mind when I think of him. He’s a big, strong puck-mover. He’ll be a good addition to our back-end with all those assets that he has.”

Acquired via trade

Evan Fradette (2001, G)

  • Hometown: St. Albert, Alta.
  • Previous team: Fort McMurray Oil Barons (AJHL)

Fradette spent the past two seasons in the Alberta Junior Hockey League with Fort McMurray. He had a stellar year in a shortened 2020-21 season, finishing with a 7-0-2 record in nine appearances, with a .916 save percentage, a 2.31 goals-against average and two shutouts.

Fragle’s scouting report:

“We felt like we needed to add some experience in net and we were happy to be able to acquire Evan. He’s coming off a couple strong years in the Alberta Junior League, so we’re excited to have him join our group.”

Christian Lowe (2002, F)

  • Hometown: Port Moody, B.C.
  • Previous team: Cranbrook Bucks (BCHL)

Lowe played his rookie BCHL season last year for Cranbrook in the Penticton Pod where he played against his new team a total of 10 times. He put up a goal and two assists in 14 games played. Lowe was initially acquired by the Humboldt Broncos of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League this offseason, but the Smoke Eaters traded for him just under two months later.

Fragle’s scouting report:

“We saw him a lot last year in the pod season. We coveted his speed and his tenacity. Those are the main things we will be relying on him to bring to our group this season.”

Photo credits: Dan Hickling (Lagerback, Michaelis), Trent Rolfe (Parsons)