Saturday, March 3, 2012

Gameday: Smoke Eaters vs. Spruce Kings

Who: Trail Smoke Eaters vs. Prince George Spruce Kings
When: Mar. 3, 7:30 PM
Where: Cominco Arena, Trail

Trail looks to bounce back after a deflating 5-goal second period in last night's 6-1 loss to the Spruce Kings.

Faced again with only 13 healthy skaters, and 1 AP callup, the Smokies put together a solid first period only to allow goals on back-to-back-to-back power-plays, as PG clinched a playoff spot and moved to within two points of second place Merritt.

Lyndon Stanwood, who came on in relief of James D'Andrea midway through period two last night, is expected to go between the pipes, while Spruce Kings goaltender Kirk Thompson will make his first appearance against Trail this season as PG goes for the season series sweep.

The Smokies could well have reinforcements on the way given Creston Valley's elimination from the KIJHL post-season last night, and with Castlegar and Beaver Valley not set to start their second-round series until Tuesday it's not inconceivable a Rebel, Nitehawk or two could make their way to Cominco ice tonight.

Our Opponent: I can't imagine PG will be letting their foot off the gas pedal tonight at all after having clinched post-season contention yesterday. Tonight is Prince George's game in hand on the second-place Centennials, and two points would draw the two teams level on 70 points. Merritt has a much less arduous schedule the rest of the way too, with Salmon Arm and Trail (twice) on their plate compared to a visit to Vernon and a double-dip at home against the Vees next weekend for the S'Kings. Trail again had their quality offensive chances limited last night (after the first period at least) by a very large, if not overly physical defense corps, though Ty Swabb's first BCHL shutout bid was foiled by Trail's Brent Baltus late in the third period.

In The Press Box: Trail again is minus Adam Fares, Marley Keca, Joren Johnson, Luke Bertolucci and Brandon Long. Of those five, Johnson is the closest to returning to action. PG will again be without D Cody Bardock, who will have missed all four games of the season series in Trail as he continues to rehab from an injury.

Broadcast Info: Pay-per-view and audio options are both available here, pregame at 7:25 with the opening faceoff at 7:30.

Local Hockey Today: The major midget Kootenay Ice finish off their season in Trail this weekend with a pair against the Thompson Blazers. The opener of that two-pack goes this afternoon at 4:00 at Cominco. Selkirk College also wind down the 2011-12 season tonight at Eastern Washington.

KIJHL Note: Castlegar and Beaver Valley have announced the dates for their second-round playoff series, with the 'Hawks holding down home-ice advantage. Here's a look at what will happen where. (Also note despite holding the league's best regular-season record the Nitehawks are left without a weekend home date).

Game 1: Tuesday, 03/06 @ Beaver Valley
Game 2: Wednesday, 03/07 @ Beaver Valley
Game 3: Friday, 03/09 @ Castlegar
Game 4: Saturday, 03/10 @ Castlegar
Game 5: Monday, 03/12 @ Beaver Valley*
Game 6: Tuesday, 03/13 @ Castlegar*
Game 7: Thursday, 03/15 @ Beaver Valley*
* - if necessary

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