When: Feb. 16, 7:30 PM
Where: Cominco Arena, Trail
The Smokies play a rare Thursday home game (albeit the second this month) against a familiar, yet unfamiliar opponent in Westside. It's the seventh meeting of the season between the two teams, but the Smokies and Warriors haven't locked horns since a 3-1 Trail victory on home ice November 26th.
Since then, both teams have made significant changes, and while both Trail and Westside are on the outside of this year's playoff picture, both sides have plenty of talent to ice strong squads in 2012-13.
Trail has been idle since a pair of disappointing home losses to Prince George over the weekend. For me, the difference in the game was the Spruce Kings' ability to generate quality chances whereas Trail's attack was (especially in Friday's 4-1 loss) kept to the perimeter.
I chatted with head coach Bill Birks yesterday, take a listen here.
I also talked to former Smoke Eater Ben Matthews following Saturday's game, that tape is available here.
Last Meeting: As mentioned, it's been awhile, but the November 26th victory at Cominco also served as Lyndon Stanwood's first 'W' in Trail silks. Westside have won four of the six previous meetings, with one of Trail's wins coming in overtime.
Our Opponent: Like Trail, the Warriors are carrying only two 20 year-olds the rest of the way, and one will make his return tonight. Per The General's Report, Peter MacIntosh will be back in the lineup for Westside this evening, and with the likes of Izaak Berglund and Michael King gone, the New Brunswick product's role as leader and mentor becomes all the more important. Connor Dempsey and ex-Viper Marcus Basara lead the Warrior attack while fellow forward Max French is also enjoying a 20-goal season. Dwayne Rodrigue has started Westside's last 30 games in goal, a stretch dating back to November 23rd.
In the Press Box: Trail d-men Joren Johnson and Brandon Egli are both out, while forward Adam Fares will miss the rest of the season. Westside will be minus forward Brett McKinnon, an ex-Nelson Leaf.
Broadcast Info: Join me for the pay-per-view beginning at 7:25 here. Jon Zacks has your Westside feed here.
Movin' On Up: Congrats to former Nelson Leafs goaltender Billy Faust on securing a commitment to the University of Vermont. Faust spent two years with the Leafs, winning a KIJHL title in 2009.
Local Hockey Tonight: Grand Forks play their home finale this evening in search of home victory number one of the season against the Nelson Leafs (7:30, Grand Forks Arena). The Border Bruins were edged 6-5 in OT by Spokane Tuesday and have a new face behind the bench in assistant Nick Deschenes. The Morinville, AB native was a teammate of head coach Matt Zamec at Yale, and played in the AHL with the Philadelphia Phantoms as part of a nine-year career. I chatted with Zamec yesterday, hear his thoughts here. The Leafs move on to face Beaver Valley in a season-ending home and home set beginning tomorrow in Nelson. I spoke with Nitehawks coach Terry Jones about his club's first regular-season KIJHL title in 8 years earlier this week, listen here.