Makway, Hamilton growing with BCHL’s Smoke Eaters

Judah Makway & Rhett Hamilton of the Trail Smoke Eaters. Smoke Eaters photos


Judah Makway and Rhett Hamilton are KIJHL alumni from the Beaver Valley Nitehawks and Nelson Leafs, respectively. Both made the step up to the BCHL with the Trail Smoke Eaters. 

Makway, a Trail product, has two goals and four points in 17 games. He registered his first BCHL point in his second game and scored his first goal in his fifth game. Hamilton, a Bonnington, B.C. product, has two goals and three points in 18 games. His first BCHL point came in his sixth game, while his first goals came just before the Christmas break.

Interviews with both have been edited for length and clarity.


Judah Makway

KIJHL: How do you feel the first half of the season with Trail has gone for you?

JM: I feel it’s gone pretty good and I like the guys and the coaching staff has been really good. It’s definitely a faster pace than last year and I have fit in well. I had to change my game a little bit.


KIJHL: In what ways have you had to change your game?

JM: I had to adjust my role, like last year I was more of an offensive guy, and this year I have been working on systems and being more of a physical presence. I played a physical role throughout my hockey career, but just had to step it up a bit this year. I’m working on my defensive game a lot and it’s gone really well.


KIJHL: In what areas do you feel you have become a better player?

JM: In the defensive zone, I’ve gotten a lot better, just making quicker decisions. I’m making quick passes and getting pucks out and finding the play and making it right away off my first look.


KIJHL: What are some things from your time in the KIJHL that are helping you in the BCHL?

JM: It’s a fast, physical game in the KIJH so you already had to make pretty quick decisions and keep your head up so you or your teammates don’t get hit. The schedules are kind of the same, so I got used to that and the bus rides last year. It helped me step up this year.


Jennifer Small photos

KIJHL: Do you feel it made the transition a bit easier?

JM: Yeah, definitely a lot smoother than if I just came into this year without having played in the KIJHL.


KIJHL: What is your confidence level like?

JM: I try to stay confident no matter what and know that if I keep working hard, good things will happen. You get down on yourself a bit, but remember that you are playing a bit of a different role. The points will come and my coaches are reminding me that they will if I just keep playing the right way.


KIJHL: In the second half of the year, what goals do you want to accomplish in terms of personal growth and helping the team?

JM: I think just producing a little bit more offensively would definitely be really nice. And personally moving up the lineup. I think that it all starts in the defensive zone and getting more time in the O-zone and the points will come.


Rhett Hamilton

KIJHL: How do you feel that the first half of the season with Trail has gone for you?

RH: It’s been pretty good. It’s been a grind in and out of the lineup, but I’m working my hardest in the gym every day and on the ice too. The biggest thing for me is staying consistent and keeping my head up and grinding through the rest of the season.


KIJHL: How do you feel that you have played so far?

RH: I’ve played pretty well. I’m kind of inconsistent which is something I have to improve on. It’s been a great time here.


KIJHL What has your role been this year?

RH: I’m a fourth-line energy guy who works the corners, using my speed to get the boys going and playing physically. I feel I have been able to do pretty well this season.


KIJHL: In what areas do you feel you have become a better player?

RH: Definitely in the D-zone, as well as positioning. This season I have been really focusing on that as it was an area I wasn’t as strong in last season.


KIJHL: What are some things from your time in the KIJHL that are helping you in the BCHL?

RH: I’d definitely say the decision making when you get the puck. In the KIJHL, when you get the puck, somebody is coming to hit you. In this league, they may not be coming to hit you, but they stick check trying to get the puck from you. I feel like that’s the same kind of quickness there. Just making the first-pass and getting it on the tape.


KIJHL: What would you like to be able to accomplish to help your team in the final half of the season heading into playoffs?

RH: I want to keep creating energy and maybe produce more points. I want to play my role as best as I can and help the team out on- and off-the ice. I want to be a positive influence in the room too.


KIJHL: What has your confidence level been like?

RH: It’s definitely gone up through the season. At the start, I was a bit shaky, and I didn’t really want to make mistakes. Now, I’m more comfortable carrying the puck and making something happen on my own. The help from the coaches has been nice. What to do when you enter the zone because it’s a bit different from the KIJHL.