Jacob Smith spent a full season with the Revelstoke Grizzlies last season winning the KIJHL Teck Cup Championship and earning a bronze medal at the Cyclone Taylor Cup. The Trail, B.C. product debuted in the league as an affiliate player in 2019-20, playing four games with the Beaver Valley Nitehawks. Smith, who plays for the Merritt Centennials, got his first experience in the BCHL with the Cranbrook Bucks during the 2020-21 Pod Season, playing in five games. The following season he played a game as an affiliate with his hometown Trail Smoke Eaters.
In this Q&A with Smith, we talked to him about his season with the Centennials. The interview has been edited.
KIJHL: How do you feel you have played this season for the Centennials?
JS: I’ve done better since the start of the year. It was tough, and it’s a big jump from the KIJHL. I’ve only gotten better and it’s going in the right direction.
KIJHL: What has been the biggest adjustment for you in the BCHL?
JS: I need to know what to do with the puck before I get it. Last year, there were a lot of broken plays, the passing wasn’t as great. In the BCHL, you really can’t make mistakes and it’s got to be perfect.
KIJHL: What is the role that you have been asked to fill to give your team success?
JS: I’ve been penalty-killing lots this year and playing a bottom-six role. I’m establishing myself as a BCHL player and the penalty-killing is big. I’ve been doing that for a long time now.
KIJHL: In what areas are you happy that you have become a better player?
JS: My offence the last 10 games as I’ve been putting up a few points. That is pretty nice to see. (Since Dec. 9, Smith has two goals and three assists). For the season, Smith has eight points in 26 games.
KIJHL: What have you enjoyed about your experience playing in Merritt and in the BCHL?
JS: The guys on our team are great. It’s made the transition pretty easy. The people of Merritt are great too.
KIJHL: How do you feel that your time in Revelstoke helped you prepare for the BCHL?
JS: Revelstoke was amazing and playing there taught me how to win first of all. We won the championship and that was a pretty cool experience. Head coach Ryan Parent prepared me and always saying to play with pace and that’s a big thing that translates to the BCHL. He told us to show up every day and work hard. Ryan Parent definitely played a huge part in my hockey career.
KIJHL: What are you focused on getting better at the rest of the season?
JS: I want to keep working hard and hopefully get an opportunity on the power-play. I’d like to keep putting up points. The last 10 games have been pretty good for me. If I can keep that up, that would be pretty nice and it would be nice for us to make the playoffs as well. Sometimes we are on the wrong end of a 2-1 or 3-2 game.