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Trail Smoke Eaters sign Risteau, schedule set for season

Trail Smoke Eaters open season on September 22 against their Kootenay rival Cranbrook Bucks
BCHL fans will not see any photos of the Smoke Eaters playing the Wenatchee Wild this season. The Wild has joined Major Junior WHL with the purchase of the former Kootenay Ice franchise. Photo: Jim Bailey

The Trail Smoke Eaters committed Michael Risteau to the roster for the 2023-24 season.

Risteau is a 17-year-old forward from Lakeville, Minnesota and played last season with the Benilde-St. Margaret’s School in the USHS-MN.

“We look forward to having Michael join our program. He is a talented young player that possesses quick speed and very good shot,” said Smoke Eaters head coach and GM Tim Fragle. “We watched his game develop over the course of last year and we believe that he will continue to trend upwards as he moves into junior hockey.”

He played in 27 games last season, contributing 17 goals and 15 assists for 32 points. Most recently, Risteau participated in the USA Hockey U17 National Camp as part of the Northern Plains district, where he scored three goals, and five points in six tournament games.

Risteau comes to the Smoke Eaters with a NCAA Division I commitment from Western Michigan University.

“I chose Trail because because I knew it was the best decision for me to grow as a player and as a person,” said Risteau. “I also appreciated how professional the staff and owners operated during the recruitment process.”

Smoke Eaters 2023-24 schedule:

The BCHL’s Interior Conference will look a little different this year with the departure of the Wenatchee Wild for the Western Hockey League.

The Interior Conference will consist of just eight teams, while the Coastal Conference remains at nine, with each team playing 54 games this season.

The Smoke Eaters season opens on Friday, Sept. 22 with a three-game homestand, starting with the Cranbrook Bucks at 7 p.m. at the Cominco Arena, West Kelowna Warriors on Sept. 23 and the Salmon Arm Silverbacks Sept. 29.

Trail will be tested right away, playing the BCHL champion Penticton Vees three times in October and Cranbrook twice. The Smoke Eaters will play eight of 10 games on the road, including a stop in Seattle for the BCHL Showcase Oct. 22-26.

Their longest road trip of the year is scheduled for Nov. 3-5 with games in Powell River, Chilliwack, and Surrey.

In December, the Smoke Eaters will make their way to Prince George for two games, prior to the Christmas break, and end the year with a home-and-home on Dec. 30 and 31 versus Cranbrook.

The Smokies will kick off the new year in Vernon with a Jan. 6 match against the Vipers, and play just six games that month, highlighted by home games against Langley, Prince George, Victoria and Vernon.

Other than a Feb. 2 game against the Coquitlam Express, it is all Interior Conference in February and March, in a push for the playoffs.

In their final 17 games, Trail plays Merritt Centennials four times, the Warriors three times, Penticton twice, Cranbrook three times, Vernon once, Prince George once, and Salmon Arm Silverbacks three times. The Smoke Eaters final game of the season will be played in Salmon Arm on Mar. 30.

The BCHL playoffs begin on April 5.

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Jim Bailey

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