Saturday, September 22, 2012

Gameday: Smoke Eaters @ Vipers

Who: Trail Smoke Eaters @ Vernon Vipers
When: September 22, 7:00 PM
Where: Wesbild Centre, Vernon

The Smokies are flying high after last night's emotional comeback win against West Kelowna, and head to the North Okanagan in search of their third win in four games. Trail rode a two-goal effort from new arrival Jesse Knowler, and a sensational 35-save performance from Lyndon Stanwood to hand the Warriors their first regulation loss of the season.

The task doesn't get any easier tonight, as Trail and Vernon lock horns for the first time this year. The Smokies have failed to win at Wesbild Centre since 2008, and though the Vipers have only 1 win out of their first four games played, their pedigree speaks for itself.

Trail's special teams seem to be settling into form, if last night's game was any indication. Brent Baltus' second-period goal was Trail's first power-play goal since the Showcase opener against Cowichan Valley, and both the PP and PK units looked much more confident, and composed as Trail held the Warriors to one power-play goal on five chances last night. Strong special teams (and discipline) will certainly be key to any success in Vernon tonight.

Last Meeting: Trail's last visit to Vernon was on February 7th, a game the Vipers took 3-1 on the strength of two first-period goals. Clayton McEwan scored the only Smokies goal that night.

Our Opponent: Vernon enters tonight's game in search of their first home win of the season, and have been idle since an OT setback at Wesbild Centre against Salmon Arm last Saturday night. Each of Vernon's three defeats have all come by one goal, two requiring extra time as well. Castlegar native Aaron Hadley leads the way offensively for the Vipers alongside Adam Tambellini with five points each. Former Smokies AP Craig Martin scored in Vernon's opener but has been held without a point since. The Vipers could welcome back forward Brendan Persley this evening after he was let go by the WHL's Tri-City Americans earlier in the week. Former WHL goaltender Austin Smith has carried the load thus far for the Vipers, posting a shutout last Friday night in Salmon Arm.

In the Press Box: Trail remains without the services of forward Bryce Knapp until the end of the month, while Joren Johnson and Michael Bell were scratches last night against West Kelowna. Vernon is missing defenseman Mitch McAllister and forward Braeden Russell, both with upper-body ailments.

Broadcast Info: Tonight's game will be available on FastHockey pay-per-view, as well as on the Smokies Ustream channel. Join me for all the action from Vernon beginning at 6:55.

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