Breakout Season for Smiths

By Mark Simon
Special to
March 21, 2003

Columbia Inferno forward Tim Smith always has had to deal with his small stature getting in the way of people’s perceptions of his playing ability.

When the now 5-foot-9 Smith was playing pee-wee hockey in northern Alberta, he was cut from the team in favor of a kid who already was 6-foot. His older brother Buddy, an inch shorter at 5-foot-8, dealt with the same problems, but got through them, so Tim would too.

“We’ve faced being small ever since we started playing,” Tim Smith said. “We’ve made pro careers of it though, so clearly we’ve proven somebody wrong.”

The Smiths have done that and then some. Buddy Smith has gotten a lot of the attention this season, as the league’s leading scorer (26 goals, 91 points through his first 63 games) as a member of the Arkansas RiverBlades.

Give Tim a little time and he’ll catch up though. While Buddy is a fifth-year pro, Tim is just a rookie. He ranks eighth among first-year players in points, third in the older, more experienced Southern Conference. The 56 points (22 goals, 34 assists) rank second on the team behind Rejean Stringer.

“At the beginning of the year, it was a real feeling-out process for me with this league,” said Smith, a ninth-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks in 2000 who is on the first year of a three-year contract with the team. “After the Christmas break, it really got a lot smoother. Vancouver sent me down here to learn. I’m trying to do everything that they want me to do.”

Tim Smith trails his brother by 35 points in the scoring race, so catching up is out of the question. It has been a breakthrough season for Buddy Smith, who didn’t score more than 53 points in any of his three previous seasons in the ECHL. The two played against each other twice this season and Tim matched his brother’s total of two points in two games.

“It looks good for our family, I guess” Tim Smith said with a laugh regarding his brother’s success. “I don’t know why it is, but he’s had just an awesome year.”

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