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Trail Smoke Eaters alumni earn community award and scholarship

Smoke Eaters’ Ethan Willoughby and Spencer McLean awarded BCHL and Canucks honours
Smoke Eaters defenceman Ethan Willoughby (right) earned the Kyle Turris Community Award. Photo: Jim Bailey

The Trail Smoke Eaters pension for developing players is well known, but they also take pride in developing quality people.

The BCHL announced the Interior Conference winners of the Kyle Turris Community Award, as well as the BCHL Canucks Alumni Scholarship Program recipients last month.

The Kyle Turis award is given to BCHL players who go above and beyond in their community. Each team submits a winner from their organization, along with the reasons they were chosen.

This year’s winner of the award from the Trail Smoke Eaters is Ethan Willoughby.

“Ethan was a big part of the community here in Trail over the past three seasons,” said Smoke Eaters head coach and GM Tim Fragle. “He particpated in many different community events including Skate with Smokies, Smokies in our School programs, TSE Fan Club events and helping local minor hockey teams.”

Willoughby played in 94 games over three seasons on defence and contributed four goals and 14 points with 66 penalty minutes.

“His interactions with his outgoing personality, leadership and maturity made him a fan favourite in our community,” added Fragle.

The BCHL and the Vancouver Canucks Alumni announced six winners for the BCHL Canucks Alumni Scholarship Program for the 2022-23 season including Smoke Eaters alumnus Spencer McLean.

The program, which has been in place since 1987, provides former BCHL players with scholarship funds as they continue their academic and hockey careers.

McLean earned the scholarship for the third year in row, and studies at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton. He played four seasons for the Smoke Eaters, skating in 214 games from 2015-19 and tallying 76 points.

“For over 35 years, the BCHL and Canucks Alumni have come together to award our league alumni with scholarships to post-secondary institutions,” said BCHL Commissioner Steven Cocker. “Our athletes and our league consider academics as a high priority and it’s always rewarding to see our alumni continue on their education and hockey path, even after leaving the BCHL.”

The Canucks scholarship program has been in place since 1987. Selected students receive a $2,500 scholarship to go towards their education and are determined by a selection committee from the BCHL, based on the individual’s academics, hockey and community service.

In addition to McLean, scholarships also went to Kolton Cousins, Buddy Johnson, Brady Lynn, Kieran Ruscheisnki, and Ben Ward.

“The Vancouver Canucks Alumni are proud of our long-standing relationship with the BC Hockey League,” said Canucks Alumni President Bob Murray. “Congratulations to this year’s scholarship recipients and we look forward to following their academic and athletic excellence.”

Read: Smoke Eaters schedule set for 2023-24 season, sign Risteau

Jim Bailey

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