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Smoke Eaters alumni doing membership drive

As the Trail Smoke Eaters get set to host their final regular-season home game of the season, the team’s alumni organization is hoping former players will turn out and join their group.

Although previously limited to members of the senior WIHL team, the alumni now embrace everyone who ever wore the orange and black at any level and in any league, including the WKJHL, KIJHL, RMJHL, and BCHL

“Anybody that ever played a game for any of those teams, we want them to join,” says Dan Ashman, himself a former senior Smoke Eater.

Seven graduating players from the current roster will be honoured at centre ice on Friday prior to the game at 7 p.m. against Wenatchee. But starting at 5 p.m., alumni can sign up in the Smoke Eaters store for $1, entitling them to a quarterly newsletter and invitations to various social events.

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Ashman says they currently have a membership of 60 to 70 but are hoping to add 200 more. He credits Wayne Florko, Joe Ruggerio, Barry Zanier, Peter Sheets, and Shawn (Bubba) Brandt for “doing a lot of work to put it together and committing to keeping it going.”

Ashman, who owns AM Ford, joined the Smoke Eaters in the the 1970s after playing three years of junior hockey in Penticton.

“I came to Trail to play hockey for six months. I still remember parking behind the Bella Tire Centre. I had a $100 car and $3.85 in my pocket and didn’t know what I was going to do next with my life.”

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