The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League has always been dubbed a “development league” by scouts and coaches.
The Nelson Leafs recently saw two of their players develop into Junior A recruits after Trail and Cranbrook of the BC Hockey League came calling.
Rhett Hamilton is the latest Leaf to be recruited after the Trail Smoke Eaters announced the forward has been added to the roster of the BCHL team for the 2022-23 season.
“Rhett is a speedy forward that plays with pace,” said coach and GM Tim Fragle in a Smoke Eater media release.
“He will bring compete and energy to our lineup along with his versatility, which he will help improve our overall depth.”
Earlier this month, the Cranbrook Bucks announced that Nelson defenceman Bryce Sookro has committed to the BCHL club for the upcoming season.
“Bryce is a player that shows a lot of promise and had a great season last year in Nelson”, said Head Coach and GM Ryan Donald.
“Bryce had the chance to play with our group as an affiliate last season, as well as has gained lots of experience in Nelson. We are excited to continue to help him grow with us next season.”
Hamilton, a 2004 born, right forward, finished the regular season with 26 points in 40 games. The Nelson Minor Hockey grad then produced through the KIJHL playoffs, adding another 16 points in 18 games.
Hamilton also played in two games for the Smoke Eaters this season and scored in his first BCHL game against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
“I am thrilled to sign with Trail,” Hamilton said.
“I would like to thank my family, coaches and friends for helping me reach one of my lifelong goals. I am looking forward to helping the Smoke Eaters win and be successful both on and off the ice. It means a lot to me to play for the team I grew up watching. I cannot wait for what the future holds for myself and for the organization”
Sookro played for the Nelson Leafs of the KIJHL last season putting up 29 points in 31 regular season games. The Nelson, BC native was also a big part of a deep playoff push for the Leafs adding 20 points in 19 playoff games to put him second in the whole league for playoff scoring. The 2004 born defencemen was affiliated with the Bucks this past season appearing in two games.
Leaf defenceman Bryce Sookro will join the Bucks for the 2022-23 Junior A season. — Photo courtesy Cranbrook Bucks Hockey Club