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This article is about the senior team. For the article about the junior team of the same name, please see the Trail Smoke Eaters (junior).
The Trail Smoke Eaters were one of the best known senior hockey teams in Canadian history.
The team was organized in 1926 and became an almost instant success, winning seven straight provincial titles from 1927 through 1933.
They folded on January 29,1987, a victim of the sharp drop in senior hockey popularity. Their colours are now carried by a junior team of the same name.
The 1926-27 season marked the beginning of Trail's rise to hockey fame, for the first time in history the team won the Savage Cup, emblematic of the provincial hockey supremacy of British Columbia. The team was coached by Carl Kendall, a real hockey mastermind. The players wearing the Trail colours that year were: Percy Jackson (Goal); Howard Anderson, Harry Brown, Moynes, Jim Hanson, P.R. McDonald, Olaf Gustafson, George "Curly" Wheatley, Clarence Reddick, Frank Lauriente, DePasquale, Matovich; and DIck Dimock, general manager. That season Trail defeated Rossland in a two-game total goals series, by winning the first game 2-0, and Rossland fighting back to take the second counter 3-2. Trai had little trouble in elminating the Vancouver Towers 5-1 in a similiar total goals series. They added the BC-Alberta championship to their list by blasting Canmore 15-4 in a two-game, total goals affair. Trail made short order of Delisle, Saskatchewan, beating them 2-0 and 9-0. The Fort William Thundering Herd proved too much for the Trail team, and knocked them over 8-3 in a series played in the Denman Street Arena in Vancouver, before capcity crowds.
1927-28 through 1936-37
The hockey fever caught on in Trail, and they installed artifical ice in their Riverside Arena in 1927-28; and they were packing in 3,000 fans per game from a population base of 7,000 persons. Trail won seven consecutitive B.C. championships, before the Dynamiters dethroned them in 1933-34. In 1928-29 Trail adopted the name Smoke Eaters, a sobriquet bestowed by a Vancouver sports writer and a cartoonist...and destined to become famous the world over.
The First Allan Cup
Trail's first Allan Cup in 1937-38 conquest was one of the most successful seasons in Allan Cup history. During the 1937-38 season the West Kootenay Hockey League operated on an extended basis, to include two teams from southern Alberta--Lethbridge and Coleman. Kimberley, Nelson, Trail and Rossland completed the league and the clubs played an ambitious schedule of 144 games. Remember, in those days a team only had a roster of ten players. The playoffs were on a sectional basis, with the winners of the Eastern Division playing off with the Western Division champs. Kimberley elminated Lethbridge in the Eastern sectional playoffs, and their triumph over the glittering (Lethbridge) Maple Leafs, regarded as one of the best ever assembled clubs in Alberta, was considered a real upset. The cagey Dynamiters edged the Leafs 7-5 and 6-4 in a hard fought series...however, they proved an easy push over for the smooth Trail Smoke Eaters. The Smokies breezed through the Dynamiters in three straight games, by convincing scores of 6-0, 9-3 and 8-0. Trail had a real battle on their hands to reach the finals by shading the stubborn Nelson Maple Leafs 1-0 and 4-3 in the Western Division finals. The only highlight for the Dynamiters that season was that Ralph Redding, their slick forward, walked away with the league scoring championship, by registering 36 goals and 23 assists for 59 points. His nearest opponent was teammate Red Goble with 44 points. Ab Cronie was right behind Goble with 43 points. The Smokies powerful line of McCreedy, Duchak and Kowcinak were far behind with 36, 36 and 37 points respectively. Trail won the B.C. championship and the Savage Cup that season, when Vancouver defaulted the series to the Smoke Eaters.
Goalie Duke Scodellaro was unbeatable in the BC-Alberta championship final, by blanking the Calgary Rangers 5-0 and 7-0 in a best-of-three series. Next came the Flin Flon Bombers, the Saskatchewan champions, with Trail taking the first game with ease, by a 6-0 verdict; but Trail lost the second contest 4-2. The Smoke Eaters made no mistakes in the rubber game, blanking the Bombers 5-0. Edmonton was the scene of the opening game of the Western Canada finals, against the Port Arthur Bear-Cats; and with Trail coming back from a two goal deficit in the third period to force overtime, and they ended up with a 5-3 victory in two periods of extra time. Trail jumped all over Port Arthur in Calgary in the second game, winning 8-1, and finished the series in three straight games by shellacking the Cats 7-3 in the third game played in Saskatoon. The scene was all set for the finals against the Cornwall Flyers, and the Calgary fans adopted the Smoke Eaters and cheered them on to victory, along with the 500 ardent fans who traveled from Trail by a special train. Trail, a flock of speed merchants moulded into a high geared passing machine by coach Elmer Piper, climaxed the long fight by defeating Cornwall's Flyers three games to one, in a best-of-five championship series. The Smoke Eaters won the opener 6-4 and took the second fixture 8-2. Cornwall won the third game 2-1, with Flyers goalie Floyd Perras turning in a sparkling performance. Trail's netminder, Duke Scodellaro, lost his bid for a shut out in the final contest when the Flyers scored with 45 seconds remaining in the game, and Trail took the match 3-1. Trail rolled up a convincing record in their Allan Cup hunt by scoring 91 goals and allowed 26, in 17 games: and won 15 fixtures--seven by shutouts--and lost only two games. The Smoke Eaters homecoming was the greatest hockey reception ever accorded a team of champions in the west. More than 7,000 fans packed the city's business section and overflowed to the roofs of nearby buildings, to welcome their heros. The Smoke Eaters arrived home in a special railroad car, and were transferred from the train to a special brightly decorated flat car for the public's admiration, as the train crept down from Tadanac by way of Rossland Avenue. As the train stopped at the depot, the whole city went wild. Mayor E.L. Groutage officially welcomed the team and the players were interviewed by radio station CJAT. After the ceremony the players climbed on a fire truck and toured the downtown. En route home, they were officially welcomed at Nelson, and were placed on a fire truck, and proudly paraded up town to the cheers of thousands at the Lake city. Members of the famous Trail Smoke Eaters, Allan Cup champions, were: Duke Scodellaro (Goal), Buck Buchanan (spare goal); Jimmy Haight, Mel Snowden, Tom Johnston, Ab Cronie, Bunny Dame, Joe Benoit, Dave Duchak, Dick Kowcinak, Johnny McCreedy, Mickey Brennen, Jimmy Morris; and utility forward Bob Marshall. Their coach was Elmer Piper. Players still residing in Trail are Scodellaro, Morris, Cronie, Brennen, Haight and Johnston.