Friday, November 4, 2011

Gameday: Smoke Eaters vs. Vipers

Who: Trail Smoke Eaters vs. Vernon Vipers
When: Nov. 4, 7:30 PM
Where: Cominco Arena, Trail

The Vernon Vipers make their second visit in two weeks to the Cominco Arena to face a Smokies squad ready to embark on another busy, three-game-in-three-day weekend tonight.

But despite sitting last in the Interior Conference, the Smokies have showed well recently including a 6-3 setback against the Vipers on October 22nd, a game that was tied until the dying moments of the third period.

I caught up with Smokies head coach Bill Birks in advance of tonight's contest, hear his thoughts on the weekend and the matchups ahead here.

Last Meeting: Vipers forward Darren Nowick broke a 3-3 tie with just under 4 minutes remaining (on his birthday no less), before Adam Tambellini's backhander less than a minute later widened the gap en route to a 6-3 Vernon victory at Cominco Arena. Adam Boytinck, Clayton Chessa and Luke Bertolucci replied for the Smokies.

Our Opponent: Despite being short-handed (see "In the Press Box" below), the Vipers continue to shine. They made short work of Penticton on home ice two nights ago in a 7-1 victory. Nowick and fellow American Michael Zalewski lead the club offensively with 11 goals, while 17 year-old Tambellini (who scored twice during the last meeting with the Smokies) sits third on the squad with 14 points. Veteran netminder Kirby Halcrow, a former teammate of Smokies Chessa and Marley Keca in Quesnel, collected the victory Wednesday, though it was Danny Todosychuk who appeared between the pipes the last time the Vipers were in town. Local product Ryan Renz chipped in with a pair of assists in the win over the Vees, he now has six points (all assists) this season.

In the Press Box: Smokies forward Kyle Horsman is ever-closer to returning, but remains out of the lineup. The Vipers are without Castlegar's Aaron Hadley as well as defensemen Luke Juha and Brett Corkey, who are all in Langley for the World Junior 'A' Challenge as part of Team Canada West.

Broadcast Info: Join me for the webcast beginning at 7:25 (click here for the pay-per-view, here for free audio). Todd Miller has Vernon's call on 107.5 KISS-FM.

Local Hockey Tonight: The Nelson Leafs hit the Okanagan-Similkameen for three games this weekend beginning tonight in Princeton (7:00, Princeton & District Arena). The Nitehawks are our only other local KIJHL team in action this evening, they're in Creston for a date with the Thunder Cats (7:30, John Bucyk Arena). I chatted with bench boss Terry Jones about his side's hot start, listen here. Selkirk College returns to home ice tonight for the first-ever regular-season meeting with BCIHL new boys Eastern Washington University (7:30, Castlegar Complex). The Eagles feature a number of former Spokane Braves including goaltenders Cash Ulrich and Jason Greenwell and defenseman A.J. King.

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