Friday, November 30, 2012

Gameday: Smoke Eaters @ Kings

Who: Trail Smoke Eaters @ Powell River Kings
When: November 30th, 7:30 PM
Where: Hap Parker Arena, Powell River

Good morning from North Van, as I await a flight to the Sunshine Coast to meet the Smokies in Powell River tonight for a matchup that marks not only the end of November, but also the beginning of the second half of the BCHL season.

Trail enters the weekend 1 point behind both Salmon Arm and Vernon for the fourth seed in the Interior division, and will be in tough tonight against a Kings squad that, like Trail, likes to jump on teams that have a long day of travel from their homes to Powell River.

The Smokies also enter the weekend short several bodies. Already without Braeden Jones and Bryce Knapp, Trail will be without the services of defensemen Shane Poulsen and Marley Keca. Poulsen was hurt in the second period of Saturday's loss in Salmon Arm, while Keca is serving a suspension. Goaltender Adam Todd has also been sick all week and is questionable.

Despite the personnel adversity, Trail should feel good heading into tonight's game. The Smokies already have one win under their belts against Powell River this season (more on that below), and have one of the league's hottest snipers in Brent Baltus continuing his sensational season. Baltus has collected points in 12 of his last 14 games, while linemate Garrett McMullen has points in 11 of 14. After a weekend that saw the club score only two goals (both by Baltus) though, it will be up to the rest of the lineup to provide the type of timely contributions that have brought the Smoke Eaters success to this point in the season.

Last Meeting: Trail won 3-2 on a last-minute winner from Baltus September 30th at Cominco Arena. Tonight's game marks the finale in the two-game season series.

Our Opponent: The four-time defending Coastal champs have struggled with injuries and consistency all season long, but are a club that can lock down the defensive zone when needed. Goaltender Jonah Imoo carried the mail for Team Canada West at the recent World Junior "A" Challenge in Nova Scotia, while hulking blueliner Luke Ripley (also a member of that Canada West squad along with leading scorer Evan Richardson) recently became the fourth member of Powell River's roster to earn a scholarship when he committed to Notre Dame. The Kings, like Trail have played the most games in the league with 28, and do not have a 20-point man on their roster to this point in the season. Powell River added to its forward depth Thursday as well, acquiring Landon Robin from the Vernon Vipers for future considerations.

In the Press Box: Trail are without Keca, Jones, Poulsen and Knapp. Todd is questionable. Powell River does not have any listed injuries.

Broadcast Info: Watch tonight's game on FAST Hockey pay-per-view, or listen live on Smokies Ustream. Tonight's pre-game show begins at 7:20 with the opening faceoff set for 7:30.

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