Evaluators challenged during regional camp

B.C. under-16 regional camp attracts 157 hockey players for 50 spots

GRAHAM SMITH-BOYLE of Okanagan Falls denies Dario Piva of Kamloops on this scoring chance as the Kamloops Minor Hockey Association product broke in alone on him during the B.C. Under-16 Kootenay-Okanagan regional camp held at the South Okanagan Events Centre last weekend.

GRAHAM SMITH-BOYLE of Okanagan Falls denies Dario Piva of Kamloops on this scoring chance as the Kamloops Minor Hockey Association product broke in alone on him during the B.C. Under-16 Kootenay-Okanagan regional camp held at the South Okanagan Events Centre last weekend.

Evaluating the top hockey players in the Okanagan/Kootenay region is no easy task. It becomes harder when evaluators such as Dennis McKinnon have to select 50 kids from 157 to make Team B.C. That is the number of kids who advanced to the Under-16 B.C. Cup that will be held in Salmon Arm, April 18 to 21. “I would have to say for the most part the calibre was good,” said McKinnon, a Kootenay district evaluator. Between the two areas, McKinnon said for the most part the Okanagan possesses more talented hockey players. McKinnon couldn’t say if there were any standouts. “In years past, you kind of have that high-end guy,” he said. “Everyone was very equal. It makes it a lot tougher for our evaluators because you are trying to pick 50 kids out of 157 and it would be nice if people stood out and made your job easier for you.” One player who threw his name into the mix was Okanagan Falls’ Graham Smith-Boyle. The Penticton Minor Hockey Association member was among 21 goalie looking to impress. For Smith-Boyle, the experience was more about learning and getting his name out there. He didn’t have expectations of advancing to the next step, which didn’t happen for him. “I learned that there is a whole bunch of people out there who want to compete at a higher level,” said Smith-Boyle, 15. “I didn’t think there was that many.” Smith-Boyle said he felt he performed pretty well. While he felt nervous early on, the jitters disappeared. “They were really high quality,” said Smith-Boyle, who likes Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff because of his acrobatic style. “I had never faced anyone that strong before.” McKinnon said it’s important kids make some kind of impression early because when you have 157 kids, evaluators are trying to look them equally. “Guys are watching specific players,” he said. “You need to do something to get noticed.” After the B.C. Cup in Salmon Arm, which also has 160 kids, evaluators pick 42 from that group to move on to a provincial camp in Nanaimo. From there, they will choose 20 kids to represent B.C. The team will play in the Western Canada Challenge Cup during non-Canada Winter Games years.