By Evan Woodbery
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Hockey runs in Tim Smith’s family.
Apparently, so does modesty.
“My brother’s an unbelievable hockey player,”said Smith, a second-year left wing for the Columbia Inferno. “I still believe I’m only half as good as he is.”
The two brothers are building remarkably similar resumes.
Older brother Buddy, 29, was named the ECHL’s most valuable player last year. Tim, 22, entered the weekend leading the league in points and assists.
“Offensively, Tim is one of the most exciting guys to watch in this league,”Inferno coach Scott White said. “His brother Buddy was very similar in that respect.”
After spending last year in Arkansas, Buddy has moved on to a German professional league. Tim spent four years as a junior player in Spokane, Wash., and Canada before the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks assigned him to the Inferno at the beginning of last season.
“He’s still adjusting to the pro game and maturing,”White said of Tim Smith. “He certainly has the offensive ability to get it done at the next level. He has to work on his strength. Once he gets that strength, his defensive zone play will pick up. That’s what he and I talk about all the time.”
Smith, who is 5-9 and 165 pounds, said he’s working on bulking up.
“My strength is in my offensive game and my play-making and puck-handling,”he said. “I definitely have room to grow with my body. I need to get stronger and come to the rink and play hard every day, instead of taking one day off. I need to be more consistent, and hopefully my offensive game will take me to where I want to be.”
Smith was called up to the Inferno’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Manitoba Moose, for three games last season. He would like the next visit to be longer.
He spends the summers in Edmonton, Alberta, with his brother and family. Although they have fun, playing softball and enjoying the free time, Tim and Buddy stay busy training, too.
“I believe he wants to move up and play Division I over (in Germany) and I’m hoping to move up from this league, too,”Tim Smith said. “We’re going to be working hard this summer and pushing each other. Hopefully, everyone will take note of what we’ve done in this league and give us a chance elsewhere.”