Tonight for the first time this season the Smoke Eaters host the Westside Warriors. The last time Westside was in Trail, Trevor Bailey scored in Overtime to secure a first round playoff series win. While the Warriors swept the Smokies 3-0 in that series, Trail had leads in 2/3 of the games and sent both those games to overtime. It could have been a whole different series if just one or two extra pucks bounced in a different way.
The teams have only met once so far this season with Westside blowing Trail out 9-2 at the Royal Lepage Place in West Kelowna. That was very early in the season and a totally different Smokies club than the one we've seen of late. After an overtime loss against Vernon on Saturday I expect the Trail to be ready to test Westside tonight.
How good are the Warriors this season? Certainly better than many of us expected. Despite losing their two best defenceman (Justin Schultz and Cory Pritz) and a load of talent up front (Ron Kelly, Chad Gehon, Jordon Gagne), the Warriors are still among the top teams in the BCHL. Their depth players are mostly very young, but it seems like they've been carried by super vets like Trevor Bailey, Brendan Ellis and Nashville Predators draft pick Cam Reid. There is also the red hot Kevin Jebson in goal. You can read the Warriors perspective on this game over at their website from broadcaster John Harding. Also I had a chance to chat with their coach Darren Yopyk who is making his first trip to the Cominco Arena while behind the Warriors bench.
Westside Coach Darren Yopyk
Click here to download
The coolest thing about tonight's game? Kids 12 and under get in free with an adult. It's part of several Christmas themed promotions planned by Trail with 7 home games this month. Tonight's game is a Christmas present to our youngest fans. On Friday the Smokies will be hosting a Teddy Bear toss. That's just the beginning! You'll also have a chance to win a turkey from Ferraro Foods and an extra large pizza from Twisted Tomato at every home game this month. I got some more details on that and an update on a former Smoke Eater from the boss...
Smokies President Tom Gawryletz
Click here to download
By the way in some other Smokies alumni news, Travis Roche has been named to Canada's Spengler Cup team. Travis is playing hockey in the Swiss league this season after a few seasons in the NHL.
Smokies and Warriors -- 7:30pm tonight!
Small goalie comes up large
11 hours ago