Friday, October 26, 2012

Gameday: Smoke Eaters vs. Grizzlies

Who: Trail Smoke Eaters vs. Victoria Grizzlies
When: October 26, 7:30 PM
Where: Cominco Arena, Trail

The Smokies enter a must-win weekend tonight with the second matchup in as many weeks against the Victoria Grizzlies. Trail’s offense found its groove in a trio of away games last weekend; Brent Baltus and Luke Sandler led the charge with goals in all three games as Trail scored an average of four times per game against the Grizzlies, Cowichan Valley Capitals and Surrey Eagles.

And despite coming away with only one point last weekend, the defensive effort has shown considerable improvement. All five Surrey goals last Sunday were scored by defensemen, and last Friday’s matchup in Victoria against the Island Division-leading Grizzlies went right down to the wire.

The Smokies ran into the much-maligned injury bug over the weekend, too. Defenseman Braeden Jones and forward Jesse Knowler both left Friday’s game in Victoria and haven’t played since, and forward Bryce Knapp missed Sunday’s game in Surrey and is on the injured list too. Trail has recalled defenseman (and South Slocan native) Matt Carr from the KIJHL’s Fernie Ghostriders as well as 16 year-old Moose Jaw Warriors prospect Colton McCarthy, who has 11 goals in 15 games with the Nelson Leafs.

Last Meeting: Zach Urban’s power-play goal late in the second period lifted Victoria to a 4-3 victory last Friday night at Bear Mountain Arena.

Our Opponent: Victoria (10-4-0-1) comes into tonights game on a 4-game win streak, and a four point lead atop the Island division over Alberni Valley. The Grizzlies made a slough of changes over the summer, notably picking up triplets Leo, Gerry and Myles Fitzgerald from Prince George. The trio combined for 5 points last Friday, with Gerry scoring two second-period goals. 17 year-old defenseman Nolan DeJong committed to Michigan this week. Both he and forward Dante Hahn have been invited to Team Canada West’s evaluation camp in Calgary next week in advance of the 2012 World Junior “A” Challenge in Nova Scotia. Tonight marks the start of a three-game Interior swing for Victoria that also includes stops in Penticton and Merritt.

In the Press Box: Jones and Knapp are week-to-week, while Knowler is also out tonight. The Grizzlies do not have any listed injuries.

Broadcast Info: Catch tonight's game on FASTHockey pay-per-view or listen live at Smokies Ustream. Pre-game is set for 7:25 with the opening faceoff at 7:30.

Special Guests: Trail and the Cominco Arena have been proud to host Canada's national sledge hockey team this week for a training camp. The entire squad, including local head coach Mike Mondin, will be on hand tonight and will take part in a special pre-game ceremony. Tonight's game is also kid-oriented, as all children under 12 get in the door free tonight if accompanied by an adult.

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