Who: Trail Smoke Eaters @ Salmon Arm Silverbacks
When: Sept. 9, 7:00 PM
Where: Sunwave Centre, Salmon Arm
The Smokies hit the road for the first time in 2011-12 with an exhibition date in Salmon Arm against the Silverbacks tonight. Trail has not played since Saturday's 3-2 home loss to the Wenatchee Wild, but have had almost a full week of valuable practice time to work on systems and for forward lines and defense pairings to become even more familiar with each other.
I chatted with Smokies head coach and GM Bill Birks late yesterday afternoon about the trip, the week of preparation, and the benefits of having a later-than-usual start to the season. To listen, click here.
Our Opponent: Salmon Arm, like Trail has experienced a fair amount of turnover over last season. Of their returning forwards, overager Brett Knowles will be expected to lead by example. He scored 58 points (30-28) last season with the 'Backs. 17 year-old Morgan Zulinick is poised to have a breakout year as well, he tallied twelve times as a rookie in 2010-11. 20 year-old James Friedel and recently-acquired overager Klay Kachur will anchor Salmon Arm's blue line. Overager Kurt Williams appears to be the go-to guy between the pipes this year as well. The Minnesota product has appeared in only 32 games over the past two seasons backing up the likes of Tony Ierfino and Kris Moore. The 'Backs were one of several teams (including Trail) to undergo a coaching change over the summer. Colin O'Hara takes over from former Smokies coach Tim Kehler.
Broadcast Info: I will not be making the trip with the team today, but new Salmon Arm broadcaster Scott Campbell will be calling tonight's action online. Check the Silverbacks' website, Scott's new blog, or his Twitter account for more information.
Out of Town: Local hockey fans can get their fix in Fruitvale tonight. Beaver Valley hosts the Fernie Ghostriders in KIJHL exhibition play this evening at 7:30. The Rebels and Leafs concluded a home-and-home set last night in Nelson that saw Castlegar victories of 6-3 and 8-2. I chatted with Rebels defenseman Erik Alden after Wednesday's game, hear that conversation here.
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