Saturday, February 23, 2013

Gameday: Smoke Eaters vs. Vees

Who: Trail Smoke Eaters vs. Penticton Vees
When: February 23, 7:30 PM
Where: Cominco Arena, Trail

Just like three nights ago, the Smokies find themselves two points out of the final Interior playoff spot entering tonight’s game against Penticton. Salmon Arm’s 3-2 victory over Vernon Friday means the SilverBacks again have the slimmest of cushions on the final playoff berth, with the Smokies granted an opportunity to strike even again this evening.

It’s the first of four straight games against Penticton for the Smokies, who will be sure to lean on past home successes tonight. Penticton’s lone visit to the Cominco Arena resulted in a 5-2 Trail win that saw the home side score three times in the opening 8:35.

Scott Davidson’s winner Wednesday against Merritt means the 17 year-old has now scored five goals in Trail’s last eight games. He and Mitch Foyle provided all the offense the Smokies needed against the Cents, thanks in part to a 27-save performance from Adam Todd who improved to 7-1 on Cominco ice.

The Smokies have found a new way to prevent power-play goals against: stop taking penalties. Trail has been short-handed only three times in the past two games combined. Forward Luke Sandler’s coincidental roughing minor Wednesday made him the first BCHLer to crack 100 minutes in penalties this season.

Last Meeting: Tonight marks the first meeting between Trail and Penticton since November 21st, when the Smokies nearly clawed back from a five-goal third-period deficit only to lose 7-6.

Our Opponent: The Vees are coming off a third consecutive loss to the Merritt Centennials, 5-2 at the South Okanagan Events Centre last night, and have seen their lead atop the Interior division slip to four points. Wade Murphy and ex-Express John Siemer are both over the 60-point mark (67 and 63, respectively) with former Trail forward Sam Mellor sitting third in team scoring with 51 points. Siemer and steady defenseman Thomas Nitsche are both new arrivals since the last meeting in November; Nitsche is a former captain with Langley and features in a Vees defense already boasting the likes of Troy Stecher and Red Wings draft pick James DeHaas. Rookie goaltender Nic Renyard has played more than half of the 180 minutes of hockey between Trail and Penticton this season, and has allowed only 3 of the 15 Smokies goals scored in the season series thus far.

In the Press Box: Trail’s Bryce Knapp is out for the remainder of the season; the Vees 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.

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