Who: Trail Smoke Eaters @ Merritt Centennials
When: Dec. 10, 7:30 PM
Where: Nicola Valley Arena, Merritt
Trail gets one last chance to take some points from this three-game swing tonight in Merritt, after 3 third-period goals paced Chilliwack to a 4-1 victory in the Fraser Valley.
The Smokies were again minus leading scorer Clayton Chessa, who evidently picked up a knock during last weekend's home series against the Chiefs, but by all accounts had a stellar performance put in by goaltender James D'Andrea in last night's 4-1 loss. D'Andrea was named the game's second star.
We could well see two tired hockey teams this evening in the Nicola Valley, the Cents had a long trip to Prince George yesterday (where they eked out a 4-3 victory) and now return home to face a Smokies team playing for the third consecutive night.
Last Meeting: Trail and Merritt locked horns last Wednesday at the Cominco Arena, with the Smokies coming away with a 4-3 victory on a Marley Keca winner. Trail leads the season series 2-0-1.
Our Opponent: Merritt continues to enjoy life in second place in the Interior division, three points ahead of Chilliwack (38 vs. 35). The Cents are rock-solid at home with only two regulation-time losses (one of which happened to be against Trail), and the combination of Lino Chimienti and Tyler Steel have allowed only 95 goals through the first half of the season. 18 year-old Regan Soquila leads things offensively with 35 points (9-26), while I'd expect we'll see Team Canada West standout Reece Willcox tonight on the back end after he was held out of the Centennials' lineup last Wednesday. Willcox was named to the 2012 NHL Draft Watch List along with 7 other BCHLers earlier this week.
In the Press Box: Trail's list of absentees includes Brandon Egli, Josh Roberts and Adam Fares, while Chessa (as mentioned earlier) has missed the last two games. Merritt does not have any listed injuries.
Broadcast Info: Join me on Ustream this evening for all the action from Merritt beginning at 7:20. Alex Grebenyuk has your pay-per-view feed here.
Local Hockey Tonight: Longtime Castlegar Rebels goaltender Alex Ross makes his return to the Complex tonight as part of a busy KIJHL Saturday. The Rebels host the Summerland Steam (7:30, Complex). Grand Forks is at Osoyoos in the other game involving a local side. The major midget Kootenay Ice are in action in the Boundary against the North Island Silvertips today. The first of a two-game set goes this afternoon (4:00, Grand Forks Arena), with the capper tomorrow morning at 10.