Friday, December 9, 2011

Gameday: Smoke Eaters @ Chiefs

Who: Trail Smoke Eaters @ Chilliwack Chiefs
When: Dec. 9, 7:00 PM
Where: Prospera Centre, Chilliwack

The Smokies and Chiefs face-off for the third time in eight days tonight in the Fraser Valley. Trail will try for their first win against a suddenly streaking Chilliwack team that has won four straight games, most recently a 2-1 decision Wednesday against Merritt.

The Smoke Eaters, meanwhile, will hope for some better luck tonight after an 8-3 loss to Vernon yesterday that could well have been quite different had Trail been able to capitalize on some early momentum. They matched up well with the Chiefs in a pair of games last weekend at Cominco Arena and were unlucky to secure points against a big, bruising Chilliwack squad that likes to take away time, space and shooting lanes in their defensive zone.

Trail will welcome back sparkplug Adam Wheeldon tonight after his two-game suspension (ironically, incurred against Chilliwack) elapsed.

Last Meeting: Josh Hansen's goal late in the second period secured a 2-1 Chilliwack victory last Saturday at Cominco Arena. The Chiefs lead the season series 3-0, though the only meeting so far in the Fraser Valley went to overtime.

Our Opponent: Chilliwack lives and breathes through the strength of their first line. David Bondra, Derek Huisman and Malcolm Gould have been very effective against the Smokies this season (the highlight being a Huisman hat-trick last Friday in Trail) and will be given the task of penetrating the Trail defense again this evening. Captain Tyler Miller anchors a defensive corps that is big on size and big on physicality. David Thompson and Matthew Hutchinson provide an effective shut-down pairing. Mitch Gillam has been great in goal, and after an early bobble Saturday backup Bryton Udy proved he can be counted upon when called upon as well.

In the Press Box: Trail were without five regulars last night, and at least three won't be back tonight (those being Brandon Egli, Adam Fares and Josh Roberts). Clayton Chessa did not play yesterday while the aforementioned Wheeldon will draw back in. Chilliwack will welcome back overtime hero Trevor Hills from a two-game suspension assessed after a blow to the head on Chessa last Friday, while Alex Perron-Fontaine and Jeremy Gossard both missed Wednesday's win over Merritt.

Broadcast Info: As was the case last night, there will not be a Trail broadcast this evening. Join me on Ustream tomorrow against the Centennials. Tonight's pay-per-view and free audio are both available here from Chiefs broadcaster Marc Fitzgerald.

KIJHL Tonight: Plenty afoot on the local junior "B" front including a grudge match in Nelson between the Leafs and Rebels. Nelson has been idle since a 15-0 win over Grand Forks last Thursday while the Rebels have had a few days to reflect on Saturday's 2-2 tie versus Golden. Beaver Valley will try to stretch their win streak to 10 games when they host Spokane. Grand Forks is at Princeton.

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