Who: Trail Smoke Eaters vs. Alberni Valley Bulldogs
When: February 8, 7:30 PM
Where: Cominco Arena, Trail
After a thrilling home win Tuesday put the Smoke Eaters back to within four points of a playoff berth, the Orange & Black will try for their fourth win in five outings tonight against Alberni Valley. Ironically, the Bulldogs are the team responsible for the lone Smokies setback in the past five games, and come to Trail tonight at the front end of a grueling away swing.
The Smokies found out late Wednesday they will be without the services of goaltender Adam Todd tonight. The 18 year-old signed with the WHL’s Everett Silvertips, and backed up in a 6-0 loss last night. It’s anticipated Todd will return to Trail next week, but in the meantime, the goaltending load falls firmly on Lyndon Stanwood’s shoulders. Stanwood was terrific in his last outing, a 45-save performance in Langley January 27th that could well serve as a statement game.
Brent Baltus also enjoyed a return to his regular form Tuesday, scoring twice including the eventual game-winner late in period two. The two goals were his first since returning from injury last month.
The Trail power-play will again be an area of focus tonight. The Smokies squandered 7 minutes of man-advantage time in the third period of their loss in Port Alberni. Power-play cohesion against a physical, sizeable Bulldog defense could well prove to be a deciding factor in tonight’s game.
Last Meeting: The Smokies just about overcame a 4-1 second-period deficit, falling 5-4 in Port Alberni January 26th. Bulldog defenseman Chase Van Allen tallied the deciding goal.
Our Opponent: The Bulldogs are in a battle of their own, entering play today two points back of Nanaimo for second spot in the Island division and riding a four-game win streak. Sensational seventeen year-old Evan Tironese leads the club in scoring with 40 points, but 29-point man Teal Burns may be one to watch tonight for the ‘Dogs. He scored during the last meeting and also put up a hat-trick against Trail with Cowichan Valley back in October. Tonight also marks a return to Cominco Arena for 19 year-old defenseman Eric Walker. The Castlegar product played two full seasons with the Smoke Eaters from 2009 to 2011 before testing the college and major junior waters. Walker has matched his BCHL career-high of 11 points in only 23 appearances with Alberni Valley.
In the Press Box: Trail’s Bryce Knapp is out for the remainder of the season; Todd remains away on WHL duty as mentioned above. Riley McDougall should draw back in after missing Tuesday's game with an illness.
Broadcast Info: Watch tonight's game on FAST Hockey pay-per-view, or listen live at Smokies Ustream. Pregame coverage begins at 7:20 with the play-by-play set for 7:30.