When: Oct. 27, 7:00 pm
Where: Shaw Centre, Salmon Arm
Good morning from the cozy confines of the Trail Blazer. The mood is good as we roll northwest toward the Shuswap for a pivotal matchup with the Silverbacks.
Trail and Salmon Arm come into tonight's game having both won Friday (albeit in different circumstances), and both are vying for the 4th seed in the Interior as well as trying to distance themselves from the last-place Vernon Vipers.
The Smokies rode the strength of a very successful power-play in last night's 4-2 win over Victoria. (The PK was strong too and also found the scoresheet courtesy Jake Lucchini). After an early struggle to contain the Fitzgerald triplets, Trail switched strategies at even strength and this morning, head coach Bill Birks was glowing over the effort of his third line of Connor Collett, Ryan Edwards and Adam Wheeldon in containing the Grizzlies' top line.
The Smokies gave up 41 shots, but I thought former Silverback Braden Pears and Shane Poulsen were sensational on the back end. Both were rewarded with goals, and both were steady in their own zone, blocking shots, being assertive physically and making smart decisions with the puck.
Newcomer Valik Chichkin will meet us for the pre-game meal in Kelowna. The 18 year-old ex-Langley blueliner will make his debut tonight amidst great anticipation. All indications are that he will be a big (figuratively and literally) part of the Smokies' defense going forward, and if social media is any indication, he's excited to join his new club and settle into life as a Smoke Eater which is always encouraging.
Last Meeting: The two teams haven't met since February 17th, a Silverbacks win in Trail. The Smoke Eaters won on their last visit to Salmon Arm in January on the strength of an Erik Cooper overtime penalty shot.
Our Opponent: The Silverbacks are rounding into form after a slow start, and last night's 2-1 OT win in Vernon will only bolster their confidence. The new-look 'Backs are without the likes of Devin Muller and Morgan Zulinick, but are starting to get scoring up and down the lineup, notably by former Portland WHLer Jason Trott. Buzzsaws Jeff and Brendan Kennedy are back for their sophomore seasons, Jeff had 10 points against Trail in the 2011-12 season series.
In the Press Box: The Smokies remain without defenseman Braeden Jones as well as forwards Jesse Knowler and Bryce Knapp. Defenseman Matt Carr (Fernie KIJHL) has made the trip after a strong AP performance last night.
Broadcast Info: Join me for all the action on FASTHockey pay-per-view or listen live on Smokies Ustream. The pregame show begins at 6:55 (watch this space for links later this afternoon).
Sent wirelessly from my BlackBerry device on the Bell network.
Envoyé sans fil par mon terminal mobile BlackBerry sur le réseau de Bell.