The Smoke Eaters look to build on Friday’s workmanlike effort in the hope of winning a second consecutive home game tonight against Salmon Arm. Cody Bardock’s point blast early in the third period stood up as the winner Friday as Trail gutted out a hard-earned 3-2 victory over the Nanaimo Clippers. Affiliate Connor Gross and Jake Kauppila also scored for Trail, while netminder Riley Corbin stood tall to collect his first home win. The Smokies finished 2013-14 with a 2-1-2 record against the Island division on home ice.
Three of the Smokies’ next four games (including tonight) are against Salmon Arm, and after the disappointment of a one-goal setback last weekend, Trail will no doubt be looking to get on the right foot against their division rivals. Adam Wheeldon scored both Trail goals last time out against the ‘Backs; his line with Jake Lucchini and affiliate callup Jackson Purvis were strong Friday with persistent pressure in the offensive end.
Former SilverBack Dylan Bowen was strong as well in his Smokies debut Friday after being acquired from Merritt earlier in the week. The 18 year-old worked well with rookie Joel Webb, and blocked several shots Friday too. The Smokies back end will have their hands full tonight, with arguably the best top line in the BCHL paying a visit to Trail this evening.
Last Meeting: Jeff Kennedy scored twice, helping Salmon Arm overcome a two-goal deficit to nip Trail 3-2 a week ago in the Shuswap. The SilverBacks have won all three meetings this season.
Our Opponent: The SilverBacks come to Trail with points in each of their last four games, though it hasn’t been easy. Each of Salmon Arm’s last six games have been decided by two or fewer goals. Imports Landon Smith and Evan Anderson continue to click (Smith’s 38 points lead the league in scoring), while the return of Alex Gillies from the World Jr. A Challenge only bolsters a potent attack, and one that combined for 9 points in last night’s 5-3 win over Cowichan Valley. Watch for Salmon Arm to activate the blue line, too; speedsters Andrew Farny and Mitch Ferguson have combined for 31 points from the back end. Both Adam Clark and Angus Redmond have recorded 90%+ save percentages so far this year, too; 18 year-old Redmond has earned the win in 2 of Salmon Arm’s 3 victories against Trail this year.
In the Press Box: Blueliner Valik Chichkin returns from suspension tonight, but Trail is likely to be without goaltender Adam Todd, defenseman Nathan Browne and forwards Bryce Knapp and Tyson Witala. Forwards Max Becker, Jack Berezan and Jeff Kennedy are out for Salmon Arm.