Friday, September 28, 2012

Gameday: Smoke Eaters @ Warriors

Who: Trail Smoke Eaters @ West Kelowna Warriors
When: September 28, 7:00 PM
Where: Royal LePage Place, West Kelowna

A busy stretch of four games in five days begins tonight as Trail travels to West Kelowna to face the Warriors for the second time this season. The Smokies will be looking for a repeat of last Friday's 3-1 home-ice win and should be feeling relatively confident after a strong week of practice and the addition of three new players this week.

Defensemen Marley Keca, Braden Pears and Austin Adduono will be given every opportunity to make an immediate impact tonight. Keca and Pears are both expected to log big minutes on the back end while Adduono, a 72-point man in the SIJHL two seasons ago, will play top-6 minutes up front.

All three could be key to kickstarting Trail's special teams too. It's no secret the BCHL's 14th best power-play and worst penalty-kill need to improve, and a good chunk of this week's practice time has been devoted to the kind of quick puck movement offensively, and sound positioning defensively, that will transform early hiccups into long-term stability.

Castlegar's Jesse Knowler (a relative newcomer himself), will try to replicate the successful outing he had last week against West Kelowna. The 18 year-old scored twice on his debut, and the following night tallied an assist in Vernon on a nice pick-pocket job behind the Vipers net that was converted by linemate Tyler Berkholtz.

We could also get another look at rookie goaltender Braden Krogfoss this weekend, given that Trail is playing a three-in-three. The 17 year-old hasn't featured since the 4-1 loss to Merritt at the BCHL Showcase, and all coyness aside, I'd say there's a strong chance he'll get some action against either the Warriors, Vipers or Kings.

Last Meeting: As mentioned earlier, Knowler's two goals helped Trail to a 3-1 victory over the Warriors last Friday night at Cominco Arena. Brent Baltus had the other Trail goal while Lyndon Stanwood made 35 saves between the pipes (17 alone in the third period). Marcus Basara had the lone Warrior tally.

Our Opponent: After wowing scouts, fans, and BCHL opponents alike at the Showcase in Chilliwack earlier this month, the Warriors have failed to win a game since. Granted, West Kelowna have played only three times in the past three weeks (twice against Penticton), and an injury to #1 goaltender Tyler Briggs also comes into play in West Kelowna's record thus far. That said, this club is dangerous, with the likes of Max French (5 goals in 5 games), 18 year-old Seb Lloyd (7 points) and former Nelson Leaf Brett McKinnon (6 points) leading the charge. West Kelowna took 5 of a possible 6 points from the Smokies at Royal LePage Place last season, the lone setback a 3-2 Trail overtime win on November 6th, 2011 in a wild game that was ended on a winner from Clayton Chessa.

In the Press Box: Trail remains without forward Bryce Knapp, who has been practicing but remains on the injured list until October 1st. Forward Tanner Clarkson left the team after Saturday's loss in Vernon and is suspended as he awaits a trade. The Warriors do not have any listed injuries.

Broadcast Info: Watch tonight's game on FASTHockey pay-per-view, or listen live on the Smoke Eaters Ustream channel. Pre-game begins at 6:55, with the puck drop at 7:00.

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