Who: Trail Smoke Eaters @ Merritt Centennials
When: Mar. 10, 7:30 PM
Where: Nicola Valley Arena, Merritt
A quick blurb before the drive down to Trail to catch the bus.
The Smokies get a crack at redemption tonight in Merritt after a game last night that, for the first 45 minutes was controlled by the Centennials. Trail managed to beat Tyler Steel twice (courtesy Connor Tiechko and Garrett McMullen) in the third period but in the end dropped their fourth consecutive contest against Merritt, this time by a score of 6-2.
To win tonight, the Smoke Eaters need to find a way to generate more sustained pressure in the offensive zone, particularly in the tight confines of the Nicola Valley Arena. Trail was also short-handed six times last night, and while the Cents managed only one power-play goal (a second-period marker from Regan Soquila), the Smokies would do well to avoid any extra time in the box tonight.
Our Opponent: Knowing the hard-working nature of Luke Pierce's club, I highly doubt the Centennials will take a night off knowing second place is in the bag. It's the last chance for this Merritt club to make an impression in front of their home fans ahead of a first-round series against either Prince George or Chilliwack. I was impressed with blueliner Billy Marshall last night. Not only is the ex-Princeton Posse rearguard big, and mobile (12 goals on the season), but had the blue-line to blue-line pass down to a fine art last night in Trail, something the Smokies defense will have to be mindful of this evening. I'd also expect the Smokies to get one last look at Lino Chimienti between the pipes tonight, after Steel stopped 34 of 36 shots last night.
In the Press Box: Smokies should have the exact same lineup as last night, with APs Mitch Foyle, Tre Potskin, Colton Schell and Dane Birks drawing in to replace Marley Keca, Luke Bertolucci, Adam Fares and Brandon Long. Merritt were without D-men Tyler Martin and Dylan Chanter last night, but will get forward Brent Fletcher back from suspension this evening.
Broadcast Info: Alex Grebenyuk has your pay-per-view call tonight, available here. Join me for the broadcast on Ustream, with pre-game set for 7:25, puck drop at 7:30.
Stick-Tap: To longtime Surrey Eagles voice Colin Tiggelaar, who announced last night he is stepping away from the broadcast booth after eight seasons with Surrey. All the best Colin!
KIJHL Tonight: With one game under their belt, Castlegar will try again to use home ice advantage to its advantage in Game 4 against Beaver Valley (7:30, Complex). The 'Hawks maintain a 2-1 series lead with Game 5 now set for Monday night in Fruitvale.