Who: Vernon Vipers @ Trail Smoke Eaters
When: Oct. 22, 7:30 PM
Where: Cominco Arena, Trail
After a hard-fought victory over Penticton Wednesday, the Smoke Eaters face another challenge tonight in the three-time defending BCHL champs from Vernon. The Smokies are understandably feeling good after knocking off the league's top dogs, but just like the Vees Wednesday, the Vipers have oodles of talent and can dissect unsuspecting clubs with clinical precision.
As if beating Penticton wasn't a big enough story in the West Kootenay this week, the Smokies also re-shuffled their roster to the point that four new players could make their debuts tonight. James D'Andrea, Marley Keca, Tanner Hicks and Taylor House all skated with the team yesterday, and took the time to chat with me for a couple of minutes each after practice.
For D'Andrea, click here.
For Keca, click here.
For Hicks, click here.
For House, click here.
Head coach Bill Birks told me earlier this week the moves will help solidify what was an admittedly young blueline as well as shore things up between the pipes. I know I'm excited to see what all four new players bring to the table and am looking forward to seeing how they fare in their Smokies debuts tonight.
Our Opponent: After winning their first seven games, Vernon (7-3-0-0, 2nd Interior) has lost three straight (to Chilliwack plus a home and away against the Vees including a 6-2 setback last night at home). It's been another season of turnover for the Vipers both on the ice and behind the bench, among the team's offensive leaders is 17 year-old Adam Tambellini (6-3-9), whose grandfather Addie was a member of the 1961 World Champion Smoke Eaters. Michael Zalewski leads the Vernon charge offensively with 13 points (8-5) including two game-winning goals. Castlegar products Aaron Hadley and Ryan Renz will no doubt be chomping at the bit to play in front of family and friends tonight, while former Nelson Leafs coach Chris Shaw makes his return to our area in an assistant coaching capacity. 20 year-old Kirby Halcrow has gotten the bulk of the starts in goal for Vernon, and took the 6-2 loss last night against Penticton.
In The Press Box: Kyle Horsman will likely be joined by Adam Fares in civvies tonight. I'm told the Thunder Bay giant picked up a knock in Prince George last weekend but could feasibly be back for the coastal swing next weekend. Vernon has no listed injured players.
Broadcast Info: I'll have tonight's webcast (and accompanying home audio feed) this evening beginning at 7:25. Todd Miller, the voice of the Vipers, will have his call on Kiss FM Vernon.
Local Hockey Tonight: Three of our four local KIJHL teams are on home ice this evening, including a rematch between the Rebels and Fernie Ghostriders (7:30, Complex). Fernie won 5-3 last night in the Elk Valley in a penalty-filled affair. The Rebels Anthony Delong (misconduct rule) and Fernie's Marty Wicks (checking from behind major) are both suspended for tonight's game. Beaver Valley is back on home ice tonight as well against the expansion Summerland Steam (7:30, BV Arena), while Nelson hosts the Columbia Valley Rockies (7:00, NDCC). The major midget Kootenay Ice are at home this weekend against the Cariboo Cougars beginning this afternoon in Castlegar (4:00, Complex).