Who: Trail Smoke Eaters vs. Cowichan Valley Capitals
When: February 15, 7:30 PM
Where: Cominco Arena, Trail
With six games left in the 2012-13 regular season, the Smoke Eaters find themselves in a “must-win” situation against a club that’s had their number this year. Trail and Cowichan Valley meet for the third time this season, with the Capitals riding a four-game unbeaten run in head-to-head meetings. Trail, though, can’t afford to dwell on the past this evening: with a playoff position still within reach, the focus HAS to be on winning tonight after a pair of games that slipped away over the last set of seven days.
The Smokies have been fortunate enough to receive plenty of help on the out-of-town scoreboard, as the fourth-place Salmon Arm SilverBacks remain just four points up on Trail and take a four-game winless streak into Penticton tonight.
The Smokies should feel unlucky about not picking up points in West Kelowna Tuesday. Adam Todd was very good in his return to the Trail crease (making 33 saves), and Austin Adduono scored his second goal in three games on a pretty backhander in the first period of that 4-2 loss. A similar, hard-working effort tonight could and should lead to more fruitful returns on the scoreboard.
Watch for Luke Sandler to be especially motivated tonight. The 19 year-old was shipped away from the Capitals after just four games and has gone on to score 19 goals in a Smoke Eater uniform, including one in Duncan earlier this season.
Last Meeting: An old-West shootout in Duncan on October 20th saw Cowichan Valley skate away with a 9-5 win.
Our Opponent: The Capitals are the lone BCHL team who have been eliminated from playoff contention, but this team should not be taken lightly after plenty of turnover both on the roster and behind the bench. Aaron Plumb takes over for former Smokies coach Jim Ingram who stepped down last month. 17 year-old Steen Cooper leads the team in scoring with 27 points, while former West Kelowna forward Garrett Skrbich has five tallies since a trade up-Island last month from the Victoria Grizzlies. The Caps also feature a former Smoke Eater within their forward ranks; 18 year-old Kyle Horsman has put up 13 points in the Valley after spending his rookie BCHL season in Trail last year. Cowichan Valley has only one 20 year-old on their roster, former Regina Pat Mikael Jung, who leads the team in goals with 12.
In the Press Box: Trail’s Bryce Knapp is out for the remainder of the season; the Capitals do not have any listed injuries.
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.