Wisconsin’s Marian University has built a pipeline to Trail and the hometown Smoke Eaters.
The Fond du Lac, Wisc. university committed Trail Smoke Eaters forward Blaine Caton on Wednesday, just a day after fellow Smoke Eater Troy Ring signed with the same NCAA Div. III university.
“I’d like to thank the Trail Smoke Eaters for everything they’ve done for me in the past three years and giving me an opportunity to further my hockey career while getting my education,” said Caton in a release.
The 21-year-old Vernon native joined the Smoke Eaters in the 2015-2016 season after spending the previous year with the Vernon Vipers. In three years with the Smoke Eaters, Caton suited up for 126 games, notching 30 goals and 37 assists along the way. The gritty forward added another 15 points in 26 playoff games for the Smokies and often scored the big goal when it counted most.
Caton was a team player, who did as much on the ice as he did off it, contributing not only as a leader on the Smoke Eaters but also in the community.
Caton also thanked owners Rich and Annie Murphy, head of hockey operations Craig Clare, the whole front office and his coaches over the years, including Barry Zanier, Kyle Hope, Jesse Leung, Curtis Toneff and especially Cam Keith, “For never giving up on me and making me the player I am today.”
Caton’s signing brings the number of Smoke Eaters’ NCAA commitments to seven, with Ring off to Marian, Ryan Murphy to Fitchburg State, returning defencemen Seth Barton and Trevor Zins both committed to UMass-Lowell, Kale Howarth heading to University of Connecticut, and Ross Armour going to Bemidji State.
Marian is part of the 12 team Northern Collegiate Hockey Association (NCHA), an intercollegiate athletic conference affiliated with the NCAA’s Division III. The NCHA is a highly regarded Division III hockey league which routinely produces some of the highest ranking teams in the United States. In 2017-2018, the Marian University Sabres compiled 20 regular season wins en route to the first NCAA Tournament bid in the team’s history.
Founded as Marian College in 1936 by the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes, Marian University is a co-educational, Catholic University that inspires personal and professional success through an engaging, values-based education. With the average class size of 15 students and a student-to-faculty ratio of 12:1, students at Marian University partake in multiple cooperative, hands-on learning experiences that allow for integrated classroom theory and practical work experience. Marian University students graduate well-prepared to begin exciting careers in their fields or for admission to rigorous graduate and professional programs across the nation.