The Spruce Kings and Smokies played to a very exciting 2-2 tie last Friday. It was a game you heard on Mountain FM with AM Ford Trail Smoke Eaters hockey. Click here to take a look back at last Friday's game.
It seems like the Smoke Eaters and Spruce Kings always play each other tight. I remember a couple of great Overtime battles last year. After last Friday's game I think we should expect the same thing this season.
For the Smoke Eaters, Riley Loyst (jaw), Graeme Strukoff (eye) and Jeff Zmurchyk are out of the line-up tonight for Trail. Marco Raimondo will start in goal. He's looking to build on his solid performance in the 8-2 win over Merritt. After a rough outing in Quesnel I'm sure the 20 year old wants to put together two straight solid efforts.
For Prince George, Joe Becker and Johnny Van Siclen are sitting this one out. I'm almost certain Kevin Genoe will get the start in goal, but I don't have that confirmed.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
For Prince George, Zach Davies is a stud defenceman who just picked up a scholarship to Quinnipiac. During last weekend's game he played 7:06 consecutively in the first and second overtime. You'd think he would be less effective as that time wore on, but when Davies was on the ice the Smokies couldn't get anything going. When he finally went to the bench Trail got 8 shots in 3 minutes. Davies has 2 goals and 5 assists in 7 games so far.
Alex Allan has been terrific since joining the Spruce Kings. The 19 year old from Calgary is going to the University of Alabama-Huntsville next season. He's had a terrific start with 10 points through 7 games. He's dangerous any time he touches the puck and scored the 2-2 goal last weekend on the power play.
Also watch for Sean Ambrosie and Sam Muchalla who have 9 points in 7 games. Jordan Simpson is a monster of a man who converted from a goaltender to become an enforcer here in the BCHL. We're talking about 6'3 and 240lbs. After some trash talk last Friday, watch for Simpson to go toe to toe with Jadon Porterfield or Sean Nugent of the Smokies tonight or tomorrow. I know Porterfield wants a shot at him. Don't be surprised if they go early.
Finally, the star of the first 7 games for Prince George has been goaltender Kevin Genoe. He went undefeated before last Saturday's loss to Penticton. He's got a 2.33 GAA and 91.41% save percentage. That's more than 2% above his mark from last season. His hard work over the summer has paid off. It should be quite a battle in net between Genoe and Marco Raimondo tonight.
These are big games for the Smokies and Spruce Kings. Only a single point separates the teams heading into action tonight. Prince George is sitting in second spot in the Interior while Trail is tied for third. If either team can sweep this weekend that would be a big step forward in the standings and it would give them huge momentum and confidence moving forward. Somehow I doubt either team will walk away with four points.
...Some good chances for Trail in the first with Nugent coming closest. Just couldn't get it by Genoe.
...We heard lots of talk of Porterfield and Simpson getting ready for a big tilt. Late in the first we got just that. I don't know if I've seen a better fight in the BCHL. Two big men just throwing huge right hands at each other. Talking to Porterfield in the first intermission he said he wanted to just attack him right away and not give Simpson a chance to square up. These enforcers showed how it's done. I give Porterfield the nod in this one, but both guys were right into it. A good, long fight and it had the crowd buzzing. Lets not forget that Porterfield was giving up significant size and weight in the fight. As he said in the intermission, "the bigger they are the harder they fall."
...Alex Allan opens the scoring for Prince George with a power play goal knocking in a puck from in front of the net. Assists go to Muchalla and Fillion. Pretty solid execution on the PP from Prince George. The play has been pretty even in the first with Trail probably out chancing the Spruce Kings. Doesn't matter now as it's 1-0 PG.
...Trail gets on the board as Sean Nugent puts home his fourth of the season. This guy is turning into quite the sniper. Four goals in seven games along with five fights. That's the kind of player Smoke Eaters fans love. Both Justin Brown and CJ Legassic got their first BCHL points with assists on the goal.
...Trail gets ahead 2-1 on the power play. Marco Raimondo slipped when going to play the puck in his own zone and it almost turned into a shorthanded goal against. Trail recovered and put one in with only seconds left on the PP. Ryan Bulach tips in a shot from Steve Koshey to give Trail a lead. Bulach has been deadly from the front of the net this season. He's been tipping in everything that comes near him. JF Boisvert gets the other assist on the PP goal.
...Trail has all the momentum and are really putting the pressure on Prince George here. Genoe has had to be sharp as Trail is dominating the play and getting all the chances in the second period.
...Patrick Raley jumps into the rush and takes a feed from Boisvert to score his first goal as a Smoke Eater. Raley looked like he just shedded a 500lbs gorilla from his back when that puck went into the net. Nice fist pump from Patrick to celebrate it too. Boisvert and Mailey get the assists there.
...Smokies out shoot PG 16-1 in the second period. Complete domination. You know Ed Dempsey will have his team ready for the third. I can imagine they're getting a talking to right now. Trail is looking sharp though.
...Patrick Raley tells me in the intermission that they can't sit back in the third period. Have to keep going hard to make sure they carry this momentum. Sitting back has cost this team before. Can't let PG get back into the game.
...CJ Legassic makes an unbelievably slick move in the offensive zone to get around the D, but can't quite get the puck under Genoe. That close to his first goal as a Smoke Eater. Great hands.
...Trail hangs back a little bit too much to start the third period, but they bring the tempo and agressiveness back up for the rest of the frame. Both teams trade chances, but Trail controls the final 10 minutes and shuts the Spruce Kings down. Probably the best 60 minute effort we've seen from this team all season long. Lots of reason for optimism after that one.