The Smoke Eaters are on a mission to make Friday an evening of redemption.
They host the Centennials after last Friday’s 5-1 loss in Merritt.
The sign of things to come happened quickly.
The Centennials had a week to rest and prepare for the game, while the Smokies were coming off a 4-3 shootout win in Coquitlam the night before.
The Centennials grabbed the early lead on a shorthanded breakaway, but Trail tied it about nine minutes later on Ethan Warrener’s power play shot from the point.
The deal breaker came in the last minute of the first period, when the Centennials cashed in on a loose puck in front of the Smoke Eaters net.
The Centennials carried that momentum into the middle frame with a power play goal, followed by an even-strength marker moments later and then added another goal early in the third period.
The game had its feisty moments as well, something that often happens when teams know they are going to meet each other again soon.
In fact, the Smoke Eaters will take on the Centennials in three of their next four games, including next weekend’s home-and-home series.
The Smoke Eaters will still be without Ethan Mann for this weekend. They hope he will be ready for the home-and-home series and Trail will be missing another regular and not just for tonight.
Defenseman Patrick Reilly has been traded to Coquitlam for future considerations with the BCHL trade deadline coming at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
The Smoke Eaters second half success has been due in part to a penalty kill that’s at 86% since Christmas and the team’s goals against average is 2.30 while winning seven of 10 games in the second half. They have scored an average of 3.20 goals per game during that stretch.
Expect Smokies Coach and GM Tim Fragle to shake up his lines after last Saturday’s loss, noting that the coaching staff wasn’t enamoured with the same units the night before in Coquitlam.
There are four new faces in the Centennials lineup since Christmas, including former Cranbrook Buck forward Luke Pfoh, who was acquired in an early January trade.
Merritt has also just picked up forward Jimmy Lyver from Alberni Valley for future considerations.
Opening face-off at Cominco Arena is set for 7 p.m. and fans are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item or cash donation to support the Trail United Church Food Drive. Tickets are still available at Tickets.TrailSmokeEaters.com.