Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Weekend Audio and Game Notes

(Ryan Bulach scores one of two goals on Friday - Photo Randy Emery)

Here's some recent Smokies audio from Mountain FM's Overtime:
Here's the boxscore from Friday: http://www.bchl.bc.ca/leagues/hockey_boxScores.cfm?clientID=1413&leagueID=2393&gameID=573470

The Smoke Eaters continued their winning streak with a 4-3 overtime victory over Penticton. It was like deja vu as Riley Loyst set up Brandon Clark for the winner just as he did in the first game of the regular season. It was a nice way for Loyst to return to action after missing the last few weeks with an injury. Ryan Bulach also got an assist on the goal. It was quite a night for the Smokies captain as he scored two goals in the first before helping out on the winner.

The game never should have made it to overtime as Trail had a 3-2 lead with only seconds to play. The skilled Vees pressed hard in the final minutes, but the Smokies had several chances to clear the puck away from the front of their net before Denver Manderson tied the game up. It was an unfortunate end to the period for Trail after Andrew Pickering put them ahead and they did a great job killing off an extended 5 on 3. The Smokies rebounded from the last second let down and got the victory in extra time. This team has responded positively to set backs time and time again this season. They have exceptional resolve.

(Examples of the physical game Trail has to play against the Vees - Photos Randy Emery)

While Coach Ingram felt the team played too passively in the first two periods, they had some strong individual performances. Bulach was obviously the game's top star on his 3 point night. The way he's playing and leading this team schools should be knocking down his door. Andrew Pickering extended his point scoring streak to 7 games with a nice power play goal off of Paul Mailey's feed. Brandon Clark scored his third overtime winner and fourth game winning goal of the season. Paul Barclay again put on a terrific display against the Vees. After stealing two points from Penticton to start the season, they're going to start having nightmares starring Trail's #1. They also played a strong third period and overtime to get the two points and extend their winning streak to six games.

However, the Smokies will have to bring a more complete effort for tonight's game in Penticton. The Vees were short thanks to some suspensions and injuries on Friday night. I thought Castlegar Rebels defenceman Bob Pond did a very nice job for them as an AP. Trail will have to deal with the full Penticton line-up tonight. The Vees are a tremendously skilled team who can do some amazing things with the puck and make it seem effortless. The Smokies had some success containing that skill with their hard work, smart play and a physical edge. I can think of several times when Smokies forwards and defencemen made Penticton's forwards pay a physical price in the Trail zone and the Vees weren't able to generate chances. That's the way they'll have to play.

The Smokies will have to do the things they do best. Work hard, play smart, win puck battles, bring an aggressive fore check, shoot pucks, go to the net, move the puck quickly and swiftly out of their own zone, and execute on the power play. Trail needs to throw a lot of pucks on net and look for rebounds and tip ins. The rookie Penticton goaltenders have had some trouble with consistency and the occasional soft goals. It's important to try and rattle their confidence early. The Smokies line-up is filled with guys with terrific shots who can put the puck in the net if they get a decent. Those guys have to take advantage when given the chance. They will also again need a top notch performance by Paul Barclay against Penticton's top two lines. With Manderson in the line-up, their top forward units are now both exceptionally dangerous. Of course the Smokies can say the same thing. Most teams in the BCHL would kill for one line that has produced as well as the Pickering/Gehon/Sandor line or the Bulach/Mailey/Boisvert line.

I'm not saying any of this because I believe Penticton is a better team than the Smokies, but the defending champs are still the team to beat in the Interior Conference until someone proves otherwise. Trail has made a couple of big steps in that direction at this early stage. We have to remember that the Vees have still only played three games at home and twelve overall. They've put together a .667 winning percentage even though they've played 75% of their games on the road. This isn't a team anyone can take lightly. I know the Smoke Eaters will be ready and I'm excited for the broadcast tonight. You can hear it as always on Mountain FM with AM Ford Trail Smoke Eaters Hockey. The City of Trail Pre-Game Show starts at 6:45pm on 104.1FM in Trail.

I'm looking forward to checking out the new arena in Penticton. Word is that it's fantastic. They're in for a couple of great games there this week. First the Smokies who have played two very dramatic and exciting games against Penticton. Then on Thursday the Vees will host top ranked Victoria. That's a game that everyone has been marking on their calender. Friday it's Trail's turn to host the Grizz. 2nd in the country vs. 11th in the country. The two teams with the top winning percentage in the BCHL. If you're a hockey fan in the Kootenay Boundary you'd be crazy to miss that one.


...Smokies goaltender Marco Raimondo is returning to town this week after spending some time at home in Montreal recovering from his injury. He's still a ways away from returning but it's good to hear he'll be back in Trail. Paul Barclay has been terrific since Marco was hurt. However, there's nothing better than having two all-star goaltenders on the same team.

...With Marco still out Trail will continue to rely on Jason Greenwell as their back-up. He did a fine job for the Smokies against Quesnel and should be able to step in if the need arises. I'm not sure if he'll get a start this week, but I wouldn't be surprised if he was between the pipes on Saturday against Westside. I know the Smokies have a lot of confidence in him. They also don't want to run Barclay ragged. Of course Paul is one of the best conditioned athletes in the league, so that shouldn't be too much of a problem.

...Check out some of the upgrades over at the Smokies official website. It's still in a construction phase, but they've added a new display for Randy Emery's game photos. They've also added a discussion forum. You can post your thoughts on the Smoke Eaters without having to wade into the often hostile waters of the Network 54 forum. Keep it civil and we could have a pretty good thing going there.

(Paul Barclay plays another strong game against the Vees - Photo Randy Emery)

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