Saturday, September 29, 2012

Gameday: Smoke Eaters vs. Vipers

Who: Trail Smoke Eaters vs. Vernon Vipers
When: September 29, 7:30 PM
Where: Cominco Arena, Trail

It's a new day for the Smoke Eaters as they prepare to welcome Vernon to the Cominco Arena for the first time this season. The three-game weekend did not start as planned last night in West Kelowna, as the Warriors scored early and often en route to a 9-2 rout at Royal LePage Place.

But with the memory of that loss still fresh in their minds, Trail will have no choice but to focus on the present tonight against a Vipers squad that has managed only two wins out of its first six games. The Smokies can take real encouragement out of the fact their best performance so far this year has come on home ice. It's a trend that will have to continue through the rest of the weekend with two high-powered opponents set to visit the Silver City.

The additions of Marley Keca and Braden Pears to the Smokies' back end will pay dividends for a club that has surrendered the second-most goals in the BCHL this season. The two have combined for over 240 games of BCHL experience, and Pears has taken part in two Fred Page Cup finals with Powell River in 2010 and 2011.

The line of Garrett McMullen, Brent Baltus and Scott Davidson continues to click along, too. McMullen and Baltus had the Smokies' lone goals last night: the pair have accounted for almost half of Trail's total goals this season.

Last Meeting: The Wesbild Centre again proved a tough building to win points for Trail last Saturday night. Colton Sparrow and Jedd Soleway each scored twice as the Vipers won 7-2.

Our Opponent: The Vipers come into tonight's game fresh off a defeat of their own, 5-2 at home last night against the Prince George Spruce Kings. Vernon sits two points up on Trail in fourth in the Interior divison, with 2 wins and 2 overtime points to show for their travels thus far. Cousins Adam Tambellini and Aaron Hadley have led the charge offensively so far with 7 and 6 points respectively (each had a goal in last weekend's matchup too). Castlegar's Ryan Renz has four assists from the back end so far this season and leads Vernon's blueliners in scoring. Former Swift Current Bronco Austin Smith has carried the mail so far between the pipes for Vernon, with Union College commit Joe Young having played only nine minutes so far this season.

In the Press Box: Trail remains without forward Bryce Knapp, who has been practicing with the team and is awaiting his removal from the 30-day injured list effective October 1st. Vernon's Mitch McAllister and Braedan Russell are both out injured.

Broadcast Info: Tonight's game is available on FASTHockey pay-per-view, you can also listen live on the Smokies Ustream channel. Tonight's broadcast gets underway at 7:25.

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