The Trail Smoke Eaters’ Rivalry Revisited: A Historical Perspective

Trail Smoke Eaters

For passionate hockey fans, there is no greater excitement than the thrill of a rivalry matchup. From the intense emotions of the players on the ice, to the loyal fans cheering from the stands, rivalry games are the epitome of competition and pride in the sports world. And in the rich history of hockey, few rivalries have rivaled the intensity and significance of the Trail Smoke Eaters.

Founded in 1932 in Trail, British Columbia, the Trail Smoke Eaters are one of the oldest teams in Canadian hockey. They have a long and storied past, with multiple championships and a proud tradition of producing top-tier talent. But it is their fiery rivalries and fierce matchups that have truly defined the Trail Smoke Eaters throughout the years.

While they have had many notable rivalries, there are three matchups that stand out as particularly significant in the history of the Trail Smoke Eaters: the Nelson Maple Leafs, the Spokane Jets, and the Cranbrook Royals. These games not only brought out the best in players and fans alike, but they also showcased the intense passion and dedication of the Trail Smoke Eaters organization.

Nelson Maple Leafs – A Long-Standing Rivalry

Dating back to the 1930s, the Nelson Maple Leafs and the Trail Smoke Eaters have engaged in one of the oldest and most heated rivalries in the history of Canadian hockey. Located just 40 kilometers from Trail, the Maple Leafs were the natural and consistent opponent for the Smoke Eaters, resulting in countless thrilling games and memorable moments.

In the early years, the Trail Smoke Eaters dominated the rivalry, winning numerous championships and establishing a dynasty that would not be matched for decades. However, in the 1950s, the Nelson Maple Leafs snatched the title from the Smoke Eaters, igniting a fierce and ongoing rivalry that would last for years to come.

Fans and players alike would often travel between Trail and Nelson to support their respective teams, resulting in intense and often hostile environments. The rivalry reached its peak in the 1961-62 season, when the Trail Smoke Eaters defeated the Nelson Maple Leafs in the playoffs, solidifying their spot as the team to beat in the West Kootenay region.

Spokane Jets – A Cross-Border Showdown

As the Trail Smoke Eaters continued to dominate in their own league, a new rivalry was brewing just across the border in Spokane, Washington. The Spokane Jets, a team known for their speed and booming offense, challenged the Smoke Eaters in a number of thrilling matchups throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

The rivalry between these two teams was fueled by both geographic and cultural factors. With Spokane just a short drive away from Trail, these games often saw a large number of fans from both sides traveling to support their team. And with a mix of Canadian and American players on each roster, the rivalry took on a unique and compelling dynamic.

One of the most memorable moments in this rivalry came in 1983, when the Trail Smoke Eaters defeated the Spokane Jets in the Allan Cup Finals, solidifying themselves as one of the top teams in the Pacific Northwest.

Cranbrook Royals – A Clash of Small Town Titans

In the 2000s, the Trail Smoke Eaters faced another tough opponent within their own province, the Cranbrook Royals. As two smaller towns in British Columbia with proud hockey traditions, the rivalry between these two teams was intense and often physical.

In the first few years of their matchups, the Trail Smoke Eaters often came out on top, but the Cranbrook Royals soon caught up, resulting in a fiercely contested and unpredictable rivalry. Both teams boasted top talent, with many players going on to play in professional leagues after their time in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL).

One of the most iconic moments in this rivalry occurred in 2007, when the Trail Smoke Eaters and the Cranbrook Royals faced off in the playoffs. After a grueling seven-game series, the Smoke Eaters emerged victorious, cementing their dominance in the rivalry.

Closing ideas

While the Trail Smoke Eaters may not be a household name for hockey fans outside of Canada, their history and rivalries are a testament to the passion and talent of this storied organization. From their intense battles with the Nelson Maple Leafs in the 1930s to their modern-day matchups with the Cranbrook Royals, the Trail Smoke Eaters have left a lasting impact on the world of hockey.

In a sport as rich in tradition and history as hockey, rivalries are what truly make the game come alive. And for the Trail Smoke Eaters, there are few rivalries that have captured the hearts and minds of fans quite like those with the Nelson Maple Leafs, Spokane Jets, and Cranbrook Royals.


Trail Smoke Eaters,


Nelson Maple Leafs