Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Gameday: Smoke Eaters vs. Centennials

Who: Trail Smoke Eaters vs. Merritt Centennials
When: Sept. 28, 7:30 PM
Where: Cominco Arena, Trail

The Smokies get another crack at their first victory of the season this evening in the first half of a home-and-home set with Merritt.

Trail is coming off a tough opening weekend, losing 7-3 and 5-1 at home to the Westside Warriors. But there were positive signs, no doubt. The Smokies started brilliantly Saturday, holding a 1-0 lead through 20 minutes, but a four-goal second period from the Warriors proved to be the difference.

Trail's youngsters (don't forget, this club features 12 BCHL rookies) will continue to learn on the fly as tonight's game also marks the start of three games in four nights, in three different cities (culminating with a tough test Saturday night in Penticton).

Chatting with head coach Bill Birks this morning (to listen, click here), it appears as though considerable focus over the past few days has been paid to mental toughness and discipline. But despite the next two games both having Trail matched up against a Merritt squad he both played and was an assistant coach with, the skipper says it's just another night at the rink tonight, but one in which the Smokies desperately need two points.

Our Opponent: Merritt comes to town having split their first two pre-season games in Prince George over the weekend. The Cents return a veteran-laden squad this season including the likes of overage forwards Evan Stack and Chad Brears as well as d-men Brandon Pfeil and Bill Marshall. The Cents are set in goal, with overager Lino Chimienti back for another go-round with the club, though it was 18 year-old Tyler Steel who notched the victory for Merritt Saturday night at the PG Coliseum. Up front, 18 year-old Regan Soquila is off to a hot start; he and Stack are tied for the team lead with 3 points. New assistant coach Joe Martin is formerly the bench boss of Creston Valley in the KIJHL. Forward Sean Maktaak is also a former T-Cat.

In the Press Box: Trail will be without forward Kyle Horsman for four to six weeks after he was injured Saturday.

Broadcast Info: All the audio and/or video you need will be available on the BCHL scoreboard page. Our broadcast on BCHL Live starts at 7:25.

Tip o' the Hat: To former Smokie Matt Wilkins, he's committed to Union College for next season. Wilkins skated for Trail during the 2009-10 season, he is now with Brooks in the AJHL.

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