Who: Trail Smoke Eaters vs. West Kelowna Warriors
When: October 2, 7:30 PM
Where: Cominco Arena, Trail
The Smokies are red-hot at home heading into a crucial early-season home-and-home set with the Warriors. After a rough start to the three-game weekend in West Kelowna Friday, Trail has rattled off consecutive home-ice wins, and with a victory tonight could move into sole possession of second place in the Interior Division.
20 year-old forward Brent Baltus led the charge this past weekend with four goals in three games, capped by a dramatic last-minute game-winner in Sunday’s 3-2 thriller against the Powell River Kings. He and captain Garrett McMullen enter tonight’s game tied for the team lead in goals with 5, and points with 9.
Goaltender Lyndon Stanwood will start again tonight, and looks to continue his fine form on Cominco ice. The 19 year-old has a sparkling 1.00 goals-against average in three appearances at home, and put in 33 and 37 saves in the shutout win over Vernon Saturday, and the victory over the Kings two days ago.
Tonight marks another challenge, though. Trail knows what it will take to beat the speedy Warriors, having done so already on September 21st. It’s up to each player in orange and black to maintain the energy that brought success over the weekend, despite tonight marking the team’s fourth game in five days.
Last Meeting: West Kelowna evened the series at a game apiece with a 9-2 victory at Royal LePage Place this past Friday. Brett McKinnon and captain Max French each had four points.
Our Opponent: The Warriors haven't played since last Friday's home win against the Smokies, a game that ended a three-game losing streak for tonight’s visitors. French, a Bentley commit, is tied for the league lead in goals with 7 with McKinnon and Seb Lloyd joining him among the BCHL’s top 15 scorers. Netminder Tyler Briggs (committed to Clarkson) is one of 6 BCHL goalies with a goals-against average below 2 (1.69). He made 12 saves Friday in the Warriors’ victory.
In the Press Box: The Smokies are expected to welcome forward Bryce Knapp to the lineup tonight. The Ontario product has been sidelined since the pre-season. West Kelowna will bring 15 year-old AP goalie Cody Porter to Trail to backup Briggs after Garrett Rockafellow picked up a knock last week.
Editor's Note: Highlights from Saturday's win over Vernon won't be available due to a software glitch. I should have an alternate file from Sunday's Powell River game by tomorrow evening, watch for a two-pack of highlights Thursday. I'll have a whack of audio (including chats with newcomers Luke Sandler, Austin Adduono and Braden Pears) from the past few days available Wednesday.