When: Feb. 17, 7:30 PM
Where: Cominco Arena, Trail
The Smokies get right back to work tonight against Salmon Arm, a night after a three-goal outburst from Westside stopped Trail in its tracks at Cominco Arena.
Trail was short-handed right from the get-go, with three APs in the lineup including 15 year-old Mitch Foyle and only four regular defensemen, but last night's game hung in the balance until the Smokies found themselves in penalty trouble. Despite many minutes in the sin bin, Westside were 1/8 on the power-play which to me points to just how much Trail's penalty kill has improved.
Another group of shifty forwards come to town tonight with an eye on further securing their foothold on seventh place in the Interior. Like last night's opponents, the Silverbacks are not playoff-bound, but games between these two sides have been chippy all season long despite both teams' relative lack of success in the standings.
Last Meeting: A see-saw affair at the Shaw Centre ended when Erik Cooper was assessed a penalty-shot in three-on-three overtime. Cooper snapped a wrister past Adam Clark to give Trail a 5-4 win. The Smokies hold a 2-4-0-1 record in the season series, but all of their five points against Salmon Arm have come in the last three meetings.
Our Opponent: The Silverbacks have struggled immensely since the trade deadline, winning only one of their last ten games, but are finally starting to get healthy after a lean month of January. Salmon Arm have allowed six or more goals in six of their last eight games, including 10-1 and 8-2 setbacks against Penticton and Prince George over the weekend. Swiss forward Devin Muller has owned the Smokies this season, averaging more than two points-per-game in the season series, and while overage goaltender Kurt Williams has drawn the lion's share of Salmon Arm's starts this season, it's been Adam Clark between the pipes for the 'Backs in each of their last three encounters with Trail. Salmon Arm's defense is quick and mobile, watch for the emergence of 17 year-old Shane Hanna, who was teammates with Taylor House in the KIJHL last year; they won a title together in Osoyoos.
In the Press Box: For Trail, D Joren Johnson and F Adam Fares are out. Blueliner Marley Keca and rookie forward Luke Bertolucci both missed last night's game and are questionable for tonight. The Silverbacks were without D Taylor Love in their last outing Sunday against Prince George.
Broadcast Info: Join me for all the action on pay-per-view from Cominco, pre-game at 7:25 with the opening faceoff shortly after 7:30. Your audio/video link is available here.
KIJHL Tonight: Three of our four local teams are in action tonight with a clash between Nelson and Beaver Valley slated for the Queen City tonight (7:00, NDCC). The Leafs started AP Cam McPherson in goal last night, he 12 saves in a 4-1 victory at Grand Forks. Castlegar close out the home portion of their regular-season schedule tonight against Spokane (7:30, Complex). Forwards Arthur Andrews and Stuart Walton both dressed for Trail last night.