Who: Trail Smoke Eaters vs. Penticton Vees
When: November 17, 7:30 PM
Where: Cominco Arena, Trail
The Smoke Eaters will welcome back a familiar face as they begin a home-and-home series with Penticton tonight at Cominco Arena. Sam Mellor makes his return to Trail after a season in the college ranks. The East Kootenay kid scored 130 points over two seasons in orange and black, and has put up 24 points with the Vees in his 20 year-old season.
The Smoke Eaters though, will be happy to forget about the past, both historic and recent. Last night’s 8-7 overtime thriller against Prince George brought about the right result, as Valik Chichkin played hero in double OT, but many a fingernail was chewed clean off in a game that had offense and excitement aplenty.
Brent Baltus moved back into the top 5 in BCHL scoring with a four-point effort last night, while Garrett McMullen, Connor Collett and Tyler Berkholtz all enjoyed three-point nights. Backup goaltender Adam Todd earned his second win as a Smokie, coming on in relief of Lyndon Stanwood after a first period that saw Trail and PG combine for 8 goals, 7 of which came in the final 5 and a half minutes.
Trail enters play tonight in fourth in the Interior division, a win tonight could move the Smokies to within three points of the division’s second seed.
Last Meeting: Penticton got a hat-trick out of Louie Nanne en route to a 7-2 victory October 6th. These two teams will also meet on Wednesday in Penticton. These two teams will meet again Wednesday in the South Okanagan.
Our Opponent: The Vees have overcome a recent four-game slide with back-to-back 3-2 wins this week against Merritt and Salmon Arm, and have re-tooled their roster both with returnees from Team Canada West and additions through the trade wire. Defensemen Troy Stecher and James DeHaas (a Red Wings draftee) along with forward Wade Murphy are all back from Nova Scotia, while smooth-skating defenseman Sean Flanagan and forward Brock Balson both joined the Vees in the last ten days from the Silverbacks. Murphy leads the club in scoring with 28 points, while Mellor's game-winner Wednesday against Merritt snapped a 12-game goalless drought. Chad Katunar, recently committed to Notre Dame, has taken over the number one gig between the pipes after backing up Mike Garteig last year. Some would say Katunar had his coming-out party during the playoffs last season when Garteig was sidelined with a long-term injury. Current backup Nic Renyard was the goaltender of record during the only prior meeting between Trail and Penticton this season.
In the Press Box: Defenseman Braeden Jones and forward Bryce Knapp remain on the long-term injury list. Marley Keca is doubtful. Penticton are without sniper Michael Rebry, who is out week-to-week.
Broadcast Info: Watch tonight's game on FAST Hockey pay-per-view, or listen live at Smokies http://www.ustream.tv/channel/smoke-eaters-hockeyUstream. Pre-game coverage begins at 7:20 with all the action set to get underway at 7:30.