The Smoke Eaters have points in their last 6 games and have an 8-6-0-3 record in 2010. If you gave up on the team in the fall now is a good time to give them a second chance. Some additional support tomorrow night could go a long way towards helping Trail push past Quesnel and Merritt for 5th place in the Interior.
Trail will also be forced to watch the out of town scoreboard over the final weekend as they try to secure 5th place. They're right now tied with Merritt and Quesnel. The Cents only have one game left (Saturday against the Smokies) while the Millionaires play twice more (Williams Lake and Burnaby) against some weaker clubs. The Smokies would lose a tie breaker against either team due to winning percentage.
All of that being said it's still in Trail's hands. If they can get at least 5 points in their 3 games they guarantee themselves 5th place. They didn't wait for anyone else to get them into the playoffs and they won't be able to wait around for someone else to hand them a higher seed. It's theirs for the taking.
...Tomorrow is also the opening of the KIJHL playoffs. Check out Chris Wahl's blog for a look at the two local series. There are a bunch of Smokies APs involved in the Nelson/Beaver Valley series. Philip Patenaude, Gavin Currie, Bennett Hambrook, Taylor O'Neil and Michael Spring play for the Leafs. Colton Semenok and Layne Stopanski play for the Nitehawks. Beaver Valley was also a temporary home for Steve Oursov this season when he started off as an AP for Trail and played a couple of games for the Hawks.
Both clubs have graduated a number of players to the Smokies that will I'm sure be picking sides. Garrett Beckwith and Tommy Rizzardo are former Leafs while Justin Brown, Steve Koshey and Thomas Abenante are former Nitehawks.
The other local series sees the Castlegar Rebels matching up with the Spokane Braves. The Rebels feature former Williams Lake Timberwolves Keagan Little and Darren Tarasoff. Their MVP this season was former Merritt Centennial Ryan Aynsley. He finished second in KIJHL scoring behind Scott Morisseau of the Nitehawks.
Josh McEwan and Brian Youngson's old club the Fernie Ghostriders started their playoffs already with a win in Golden. Matt Wilkins and Sam Mellor's old team the Kimberley Dynamiters will start the first round tomorrow in Creston. Michael Betz's old team from Sicamous hosts the Penticton Lakers.
...A lot of people write off the underdogs as we head towards the first round of the playoffs. Tonight's game between Canada and the Swiss is a great example of why you can never count any team out. Some hot goaltending and tremendous work ethic took a highly over matched Swiss club to within a shoot out of getting a win against Canada. Watching the game you could see that the Swiss club did it by outworking their opponents and sticking to a very simple game. I think some Canadian fans are getting a little too worried though. It's just one game! A little adversity early can be good in a small tournament like this.
...Don't forget the Smokies will be handing out their year end awards next Wednesday. There are a couple awards with obvious choices. However, most of them should be pretty tough decisions for the coaching staff. There are still a few tickets left. Contact Tom at Re/Max or see him at the souvenir stand tomorrow night if you're interested.