Saturday, October 6, 2012

Gameday: Smoke Eaters @ Vees

Who: Trail Smoke Eaters @ Penticton Vees
When: October 6, 5:00 PM
Where: South Okanagan Events Centre, Penticton

Good morning from Penticton, where a rested Smokies group goes in search of a split on this weekend's road trip against the defending RBC Cup champion Vees. Trail certainly deserved better than a 6-0 setback in West Kelowna last night and no doubt will be hungry to finish the pre-Thanksgiving portion of the schedule on a positive note.

Tonight will be a challenge, though, to say the least. Trail is starting to learn there are no easy nights in the BCHL's Interior division, and yesterday's loss combined with other results bumped the Smokies from second place to fourth. The Smokies generated offensive chances at 5-on-5 last night and forced Warriors goaltender Tyler Briggs into some clutch saves, but again spent a bit too much time on the back foot to give themselves an opportunity to earn two points.

One area of the Smokies' attack that must improve is the power-play. Trail has scored only four man-advantage goals through the first eleven games, and Matt Anholt's goal for West Kelowna last night was the fourth short-handed marker surrendered this season. Trail was 0/6 on the power-play last night, and have not scored a power-play goal away from home since the first game of the BCHL Showcase September 8th.

Watch for Brent Baltus to lead by example up front tonight. The Nanaimo product is celebrating his 20th birthday and is in a share of the Smokies scoring lead with 5 goals and 9 points. He had arguably Trail's best scoring chance in the first period after being sprung loose on a breakaway on a hail-mary feed from d-man Braden Pears.

Last Meeting: Trail and Penticton haven't met since March 6th, a game that sticks in the Vees' memory banks as the night they set the BCHL's all-time wins record. Penticton rode a 6-goal third period en route to a 10-0 victory. The Vees won last year's season series 6-1 with Trail recording a home win October 19th, 2011.

Our Opponent: Despite welcoming in a host of new faces, Penticton is off to another strong start at 8-1 after a 4-2 victory over Vernon last night. Returnee Wade Murphy and Ontario import Michael Rebry each had a pair of goals, while new Notre Dame commit Chad Katunar recorded the victory in goal. Last year the Vees featured a former Smoke Eater in Travis St. Denis; this year is no different as Cranbrook native Sam Mellor is enjoying his return to the BCHL in the South Okanagan. The 20 year-old is one of 3 Vees with double-digit point totals, recording 13 points through 9 games. Penticton's lone setback was a loss in Prince George on September 15th.

In the Press Box: Trail do not have any listed injuries, nor does Penticton.

Broadcast Info: Tonight's game will be available on FASTHockey pay-per-view, or listen live on Smokies Ustream. Please note the early start time of 5:00 PM.

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