When: Nov. 30, 7:30 PM
Where: Cominco Arena, Trail
The Smokies will try for a second consecutive win tonight when they tangle with the Merritt Centennials at Cominco Arena. Confidence is high and the mood is good in the Trail dressing room after a well-earned 3-1 victory over the Westside Warriors on Saturday night.
Trail's special teams were instrumental in Saturday's win. The power-play accounted for all three goals (including a pair of 5-on-3 tallies from Connor Tiechko), and the PK held Westside at bay all weekend save a Richard Vanderhoek goal Friday night. That will need to continue tonight and through the weekend set with Chilliwack for Trail to enjoy success.
Speaking of Tiechko, both he and Garrett McMullen have stood out over the past couple of weeks. Head coach Bill Birks switched things up a bit Saturday and played the Rochester native on the top line with Tiechko and Clayton Chessa, and it paid off. Both McMullen and Tiechko have speed to burn, and came together nicely on Trail's third goal. I spoke to Tiechko after the Westside win, to listen click here.
Don't be surprised to see Lyndon Stanwood get another crack in goal tonight. The newcomer was terrific Saturday, making 33 saves and perhaps more importantly developing an early rapport with his teammates. I thought Stanwood's rebound control was very good, and even when caught out of position the 18 year-old had the wherewithal to scamper cross-crease quickly and make saves he had no business making. I caught up with Stanwood after Saturday's victory, to listen click here.
To round out some Saturday audio, I also chatted with Smokies defenseman Tanner Hicks post-game. His thoughts can be heard here.
Last Meeting: The Smokies rallied for a 5-3 come-from-behind victory at Merritt on September 30th. After falling behind 3-0, Trail came back with five unanswered goals, including a third-period pair from Chessa, to record their first victory of the season. Trail leads the season series so far with a 1-0-1 record.
Our Opponent: What can you say about the Cents? Merritt sits second in the Interior Conference without the razzle-dazzle of a Penticton or Vernon, but Luke Pierce's squad has a work ethic that is second-to-none. The Cents returned almost their entire roster from a season ago, and after a slight stumble out of the gate have found their stride. Merritt is the only team in the BCHL to have taken three points this year out of the South Okanagan Events Centre, and have also recorded wins over the likes of Surrey and Powell River. The red-hot Centennials are 8-1-0-1 over their last ten games. 18 year-old Regan Soquila leads the way offensively with 30 points (9-21), while goaltenders Lino Chimienti and Tyler Steel have similar numbers in terms of GAA (3.10 and 3.14 respectively). Steel was the goaltender of record in Merritt's last visit to the Cominco Arena, a 3-3 tie on September 28th.
In the Press Box: Trail remains without forwards Josh Roberts and Adam Fares, as well as defenseman Brandon Egli. The Cents have no listed injuries.