Thursday, December 8, 2011

Gameday: Smoke Eaters @ Vipers

Who: Trail Smoke Eaters @ Vernon Vipers
When: Dec. 8, 7:00 PM
Where: Wesbild Centre, Vernon

A pair of new faces make their Smoke Eaters debut tonight in Vernon against a Vipers squad looking to find their way back into the top four of the Interior Conference.

It's the first of a three-game road trip for Trail, and our first look at new forwards Tanner Clarkson and Brendan Santini, who were acquired in separate deals from Nanaimo and AJHL St. Albert respectively.

Trail didn't have much puck luck over the weekend in two losses against the Chilliwack Chiefs, but can go into Wesbild Centre with the confidence of knowing they've showed well in three prior games against Vernon this season. In fact, the Smokies might count themselves unlucky to only have earned one point out of the three meetings at Cominco Arena (losses of 6-3 and 4-2, and a 2-1 overtime setback).

I chatted to Clarkson Tuesday afternoon, to listen click here.

Head coach Bill Birks also shared his thoughts on the Santini trade with me yesterday, for that tape click here.

Last Meeting: After Trail earned a power-play in overtime on November 12th at Cominco, the Vipers came back to win on a 3 on 3 goal from Darren Nowick, who has 4 goals (two game-winners) in the three game season series.

Our Opponent: The Vipers have won only once in their past ten, but can't be taken lightly. Vernon has made changes since the two teams last met, most notably acquiring Albertan sniper Ben Gamache from the Okotoks Oilers. The line of Michael Zalewski, Nowick and John Knisley has been Vernon's most effective against the Smokies this season, despite the fact Knisley has only 3 goals to show from 26 games played. Castlegar's Ryan Renz was a physical force during the most recent encounter between the Vipers and Smokies, and Brett Corkey will also make his return to the blue line after missing the last two meetings. Kirby Halcrow has two of the three victories for Vernon against the Smokies, but sits with a 10-12-1 record through 23 games played.

In the Press Box: Trail is minus defenseman Brandon Egli as well as forwards Josh Roberts and Adam Fares. Of the three, Egli is the closest to returning. Forward Adam Wheeldon serves the second of his two-game suspension tonight. Defenseman Joren Johnson will draw in tonight for Trail as well, though for the time being he remains on an AP card. Defensemen Patrick McGillis and Luke Juha are out for Vernon.

Broadcast Info: Todd Miller has your pay-per-view and audio feed tonight, both are available here. Unfortunately there will be no Trail broadcast for either tonight's matchup or tomorrow's game in Chilliwack.

For another perspective on tonight's game, the Vipers blog has all your pertinent numbers here.

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