Friday, November 2, 2012

Gameday: Smoke Eaters vs. Chiefs

Who: Trail Smoke Eaters vs. Chilliwack Chiefs
When: November 2, 7:30 PM
Where: Cominco Arena, Trail

The Smokies try for a third straight win tonight against another tough, out-of-division opponent as the Chilliwack Chiefs pay their only visit of 2012-13. Trail swept last weekend with a 4-1 win at home against Victoria before a three-point night from Brent Baltus propelled them to a 5-2 victory in Salmon Arm last Saturday.

Both Baltus and Lyndon Stanwood caught the attention of the BCHL office for their strong play last week, earning honourable mentions for the league’s Player of the Week award. Baltus sits in a tie (with Chilliwack’s Josh Hansen, coincidentally), for second in the BCHL in goal-scoring, while 30 of Stanwood’s 72 saves over the weekend came in either third period.

Smokies fans will also get their first look at new defenseman Valik Chichkin tonight. The Burnaby rearguard made his debut Saturday in Salmon Arm, and brings size, and a season of BCHL experience (with Langley) to an ever-improving defensive core. Trail’s strong play in their own zone is paying dividends for Stanwood, too, who is seeing many of the shots directed his way and controlling rebounds well too.

Both home fixtures this weekend for Trail are big games. With Vernon and Salmon Arm still breathing down the Smokies’ necks (and with games in hand as well), points are a hot commodity for the Black and Orange. Chilliwack will provide a grinding, physical test this evening.

Last Meeting: The Smokies closed the 2011-12 season with a 5-2 loss March 11th in Chilliwack. The last meeting at Cominco Arena was a 5-3 Trail win on the strength of a Connor Tiechko hat-trick.

Our Opponent: The Chiefs begin an Interior sojourn tonight sitting two points behind Prince George for the Mainland division lead, and have had plenty of time to reflect upon a 5-1 loss in Vernon last Saturday. Hansen, Luke Esposito, and Austin Plevy each have 19 or more points, no other Chief has more than 8, though big rearguard David Thompson (2-6-8) does provide some punch from the back end, especially on the power-play. Mitch Gillam is a treat to watch in goal, and holds a stingy 2.46 GAA entering tonight’s game.

In the Press Box: Defenseman Braeden Jones and forward Bryce Knapp remain on the long-term injury list. Chilliwack does not have any listed injuries.

Broadcast Info: catch tonight's game on FASTHockey pay-per-view, or listen live on Smokies Ustream. Pre-game begins at 7:20 with the faceoff set for 7:30.

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