Who: Trail Smoke Eaters vs. Surrey Eagles
When: January 4, 7:30 PM
Where: Cominco Arena, Trail
It’s been two and a half weeks since they last played, and the Smokies are raring to kick off 2013 on the right foot against one of the hottest teams in the BCHL tonight. Trail will enjoy a full complement of players tonight for the first time since late November, with each and every skater on the club’s roster taking part in a full week of practice in advance of tonight’s game.
A year ago, the Smokies saved their best for the month of January, winning five times and finishing the month above the .500 mark for the only time last season. This year, the pressure is significantly higher with a berth in the BCHL post-season very much in view. Trail enters tonight’s game one point behind the Salmon Arm SilverBacks for the fourth seed in the Interior, and two points behind third-place West Kelowna. Trail will play 11 of their final 19 games on home ice.
Captain Garrett McMullen will have an extra jump in his stride, after committing to his hometown, NCAA Division I RIT Tigers over the holiday break. The 20 year-old could well have the added bonus of linemates Brent Baltus and Scott Davidson in tow. Forward Jesse Knowler as well as blueliners Shane Poulsen and Braeden Jones and goaltender Adam Todd are also game to return to the Smokies lineup after extended periods on the sidelines.
A new year brings new energy, and a renewed commitment to making the playoffs starts on home ice tonight.
Last Meeting: Surrey’s Devon Toews scored a hat-trick, including the overtime winner in a 5-4 Eagles extra-time win on October 21st. Tonight marks Surrey's first visit to the Cominco Arena since December 2010.
Our Opponent: Goaltender Michael Santaguida is enjoying a banner week. Not only did two shutouts against the Chiefs and Express propel the Ontario native to his second BCHL Player of the Week nod this season, he also committed to the University of Vermont. Defenseman Craig Wyszomirski also secured his NCAA future this week, signing with Merrimack. Watch out for sniper Brady Shaw up front for the Eagles, the 20 year-old has 51 goals in 92 career BCHL games. Toews, who represented Canada West at the World Junior “A” Challenge last November, anchors a swift-moving blueline that scored each of Surrey’s 5 goals the last time these two sides met.
In the Press Box: The Smoke Eaters do not have any injured players. Surrey will have 16 year-old AP goaltender Zach Dyment in place of the injured Glenn Ferguson. New defenseman Troy Paterson is also out.
Broadcast Info: Join me for all the action on FAST Hockey pay-per-view, or listen for free on Smokies Ustream. Pre-game coverage begins at 7:20 with the opening faceoff set for 7:30.