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Leafs’ Hamilton signs with BCHL’s Smoke Eaters


Nelson Leafs Rhett Hamilton has signed to play with the Trail Smoke Eaters in the BCHL next season.

Hamilton made his Kootenay International Junior Hockey League debut with the Leafs roster at 16, scoring two goals in two games before the season was shut down due to COVID-19. This season he had 14 goals and 24 points in 40 regular season games. He added six goals and 16 points in 18 games during the Teck Cup playoffs.

His play during the season earned the 5-9, 165-pound forward a call up with the Smoke Eaters playing in two games and scoring his first BCHL goal against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. Hamilton, who grew up a Smoke Eaters fan, is beyond thrilled to now play for another hometown team.

“I am thrilled to sign with Trail. I would like to thank my family, coaches and friends for helping me reach one of my lifelong goals,” said Hamilton in a team release. “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.”

“Rhett is a speedy forward that plays with pace. He will bring compete and energy to our lineup along with his versatility, which he will help improve our overall depth,” said Smoke Eaters GM & Head Coach Tim Fragle.

Hamilton said joining the Smoke Eaters is a good fit because along with playing as an affiliate, he has practiced with the team a lot this past season.

I really got to see the ideal situation of the BCHL with these guys. I just love their organization,” he said, adding the games he played gave him a good sense of what the BCHL is like. “It’s just a lot faster, you have to make more plays, smart plays. You have to keep your head up and everything. It’s a lot more skilled, which I like a lot.”

Hamilton liked how he played for the Leafs and said with the help of the coaching staff, he improved his defensive play. They also emphasized the importance of playing with pace.