Saturday, February 11, 2012

Gameday: Smoke Eaters vs. Spruce Kings

Who: Trail Smoke Eaters vs. Prince George Spruce Kings
When: Feb. 11, 7:30 PM
Where: Cominco Arena, Trail

Trail go for a split tonight against a Prince George Spruce Kings team looking to furthe close the gap between themselves and second-place Merritt. The Spruce Kings enter play tonight three points behind the idle Centennials (with two games in hand), while the Smokies play one of their three games in hand on seventh-place Salmon Arm this evening (trailing the reeling Silverbacks by ten points).

For Trail to earn a weekend saw-off, the quality offensive-zone possession must improve. The Smokies enjoyed good spells of puck-cycling in period one, but failed to generate many top-notch chances after the Spruce Kings earned a 2-1 lead early in the second.

Despite being short on "D" last night though, I thought Trail did well to limit Prince George's quality chances. James D'Andrea looked much more confident between the pipes yesterday, and each of the Spruce Kings' 3 goals (barring the Jujhar Khaira empty-netter) were the result of defensive-zone turnovers or favourable bounces off the notorious Cominco Arena boards and glass.

Last Meeting: See my previous post for a better look at Prince George's 4-1 win last night. The Spruce Kings lead the season series 4-0.

Our Opponent: The Spruce Kings showed last night they don't necessarily need to rely on their top line to survive. The Fitzgerald triplets were constant threats in the offensive zone (with Gerry Fitzgerald smacking home the winner early in period two), while former Canmore Eagle Zack Rassell also slotted home his third in the BCHL. That said, the top line is good, though I thought Trail did a decent job of shutting down Paul DeJersey (in terms of shooting chances) last night. The combination of DeJersey, Khaira and Michael Colantone have put up 33 points in four meetings against the Smokies this season. I'd imagine we could see Kirk Thompson between the pipes tonight for Prince George after Ty Swabb stopped 28 of 29 shots last night.

In the Press Box: Trail is without defensemen Brandon Egli and Joren Johnson, forward Adam Fares is also out. Prince George were without blueliner Cody Bardock last night.

Broadcast Info: Pay-per-view/free audio are both available here beginning at 7:25. I understand there were some technical issues last night with the audio portion of the broadcast, but things were sorted by the third period. My apologies for any inconvenience, as far as I could tell in our booth levels were registering and I'd imagine we'll be as right as rain tonight.

Local Hockey Tonight: Plenty of other action today as well, notably Castlegar visiting Nelson in the KIJHL (7:00, NDCC Arena). The Rebels were thumped 6-2 at the Complex last night thanks to two goals from Patrick Martens. Beaver Valley, who have clinched the KIJHL's number-one seed heading into the post-season, host the Golden Rockets tonight (7:30, BV Arena). The 'Hawks last earned the KIJHL's version of the Presidents' Trophy in 2004, a year in which they also won the league title. The major midgets are in action in Trail at time of writing against the Vancouver NW Giants, the two teams will also face off tomorrow morning at 9:45 (Cominco Arena). Selkirk College are homestanding as well, with games in Castlegar tonight against Okanagan College (7:30, Complex), and tomorrow afternoon against Eastern Washington (1:30, Complex).

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