Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Gameday: Smoke Eaters @ Vipers

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

Yes, there is more than one game in the BCHL, even though understandably centre-stage is on the Prospera Centre in Chilliwack.

The final meeting of the season between Trail and Vernon goes tonight in the North Okanagan with both teams riding mini-streaks through the first week of February. The Smokies have won two straight games following victories at home over Alberni Valley and Chilliwack, while the Vipers are 2-0 to start the new month as well.

Trail's victory over the Chiefs Saturday showed this team has grown mentally since Christmas. Were it a fixture from earlier in the season, the Smokies might not have recovered from two early goals against, and a 19-shot Chilliwack barrage in the third period might have posed trouble too. But the ability to come back, and more importantly come away with two points speaks volumes about how much this team has learned over the past few months. The momentum might well be at an all-time high, and were it not for a pair of comebacks against in the Lower Mainland, we could just as easily be talking about a 5 or 6 game win streak for the Orange & Black.

Plenty of audio to pass along from last weekend too:

For Brent Baltus' thoughts on beating the Bulldogs Thursday, click here.

For Connor Tiechko's take on his hat-trick against Chilliwack, click here.

James D'Andrea discusses his first BCHL victory here.

Last Meeting: It all hung in the balance until the bitter end on January 20th in Vernon. Moments after Baltus tied the game with less than two minutes remaining in the third period, Adam Tambellini won it for the Vipers from the left faceoff circle. Vernon added an empty-netter to win 5-3. Trail holds a 0-5-0-1 record this season against the Vipers.

Our Opponent: Vernon will be scoreboard-watching just like the rest of the BCHL with a keen eye on proceedings in Chilliwack tonight. A Viper win, combined with a Penticton victory over the Chiefs in regulation (which I've heard might set some kind of record), would draw the Vipers into a tie for the fourth and final playoff position in the Interior Conference. Michael Zalewski and Tambellini have been Smokie-killers this season, combining for 25 points over six games. The Vipers could, though, still be without Californian sparkplug Darren Nowick, who also has 10 points in the season series. The Vipers have not lost at home to Trail since October of 2008.

In the Press Box: Smokies are again without D Shane Poulsen and F Adam Fares. Forward Adam Wheeldon could be back by the weekend. Vernon's Nowick, along with defensemen Max Mowat, Geoff Crisfield and Luke Juha all missed Saturday's win over Alberni Valley.

Broadcast Info: Todd Miller has your exclusive broadcast coverage tonight. Pay-per-view and free audio feeds are available here. Our next Smokies away broadcast won't be until February 25th at Westside.

KIJHL Tonight: The Castlegar Rebels can confirm home-ice advantage in their first round playoff series against Nelson tonight, as they host Grand Forks (7:30, Complex). Border Bruins goaltender Dylan Quinn has made 65+ saves in each of his last two starts.

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