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GAME PREVIEW: Smoke Eaters Aim For 3-1 Series Lead Hosting Cents In Game #4

PHOTO: Mike Hockley

The Trail Smoke Eaters look to take a 3-1 series lead as they continue their Interior Division Quarterfinal against the Merritt Centennials with Game #4 on Wednesday night at the Trail Memorial Centre.



Smoke Eaters vs. Centennials 2018/19 Regular Season Schedule:

Saturday, November 17th @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (4-2 Centennials) (BOXSCORE)

Friday, November 23rd @ Trail Memorial Centre (2-1 Smoke Eaters/OT) (BOXSCORE)

Friday, December 21st @ Trail Memorial Centre (5-2 Centennials) (BOXSCORE)

Saturday, December 22nd @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (5-3 Centennials) (BOXSCORE)

Saturday, February 2nd @ Trail Memorial Centre (3-2 Smoke Eaters/SO) (BOXSCORE)

Saturday, February 16th @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (6-4 Centennials) (BOXSCORE)

Interior Division Quarterfinal Schedule:

Game #1: Friday, March 1st @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (4-2 Centennials) (BOXSCORE)

Game #2: Saturday, March 2nd @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (5-2 Smoke Eaters) (BOXSCORE)

Game #3: Tuesday, March 5th @ Trail Memorial Centre (5-2 Smoke Eaters) (BOXSCORE)

Game #4: Wednesday, March 6th @ Trail Memorial Centre (7:00 PM)

Game #5: Friday, March 8th @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (7:00 PM)

*Game #6: Saturday, March 9th @ Trail Memorial Centre (7:00 PM)

*Game #7: Monday, March 11th @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (7:00 PM)

* – If Necessary

The Smoke Eaters come into Wednesday’s tilt after back-to-back victories including a 5-2 win on Tuesday night in Game #3 of their best-of-seven Interior Division Quarterfinal against the Merritt Centennials at the Trail Memorial Centre. Spencer McLean, Carter Jones, Kent Johnson, Chase Stevenson and Tyler Ghirardosi each tallied in the victory with Donovan Buskey turning aside 40 of the 42 shots he faced in the contest in his 2nd win of the postseason.

Smoke Eaters Leading Scorers:

Carter Jones (17-38-55)

Chase Stevenson (19-34-53)

Kent Johnson (20-26-46)

Trevor Zins (12-34-46)

Braeden Tuck (15-28-43)


Smoke Eaters Playoff Scoring Leaders:

Tyler Ghirardosi (2-4-6)

Kent Johnson (3-1-4)

Mack Byers (2-2-4)

Chase Stevenson (1-3-4)

Trevor Zins (1-2-3)

It was another stellar performance from Donovan Buskey between the pipes for the Smoke Eaters as he made 40 saves on 42 shots and was one of the biggest reasons Trail has a series lead. The Vancouver, BC native has turned away 105 of the 113 shots he has faced in the series thus far and sits 6th in the league in save percentage at .929% through his three games in the series.

The Smoke Eaters have relished in the playoff success of forward Tyler Ghirardosi, who brings his best hockey for the spring. The Montrose, BC native has collected 10 goals and 6 assists for 16 points in his 15 career playoff games thus far and this season leads the Smoke Eaters through three games with 2 goals and 4 assists for 6 points. The Quinnipiac University commit sits tied for 6th in playoff scoring around the BCHL and has points in five of his last six postseason affairs.

As Trail heads into a big Game #4 of the series and looks to take a 3-1 series lead back to Merritt on Friday night, history is on their side in looking to do so. The Smoke Eaters were outstanding in Game #4’s a season ago, posting a 3-0 record in those games including outscoring their opponents by a 17-8 margin in that span with two of those three games coming on home ice.

The Merritt Centennials will be looking at the opposite end of the spectrum as they try to even the series going back home after the 5-2 loss a night ago to the Smoke Eaters at the Trail Memorial Centre in Game #3. Bradley Cocca and Daniel Tkac each found the back of the net for the Cents while Austin Roden started the game, making 11 saves on 14 shots in his 2nd loss of the playoffs before giving way to affiliate goaltender Jackson Glassford who stopped 11 of the 12 shots thrown his way in his first BCHL appearance.

Centennials Leading Scorers:

Bradley Cocca (23-45-68)

Mathieu Gosselin (22-38-60)

Nick Granowicz (32-27-59)

Nicholas Wicks (18-41-59)

Matthew Kopperud (27-24-51)


Centennials Playoff Scoring Leaders:

Matthew Kopperud (3-1-4)

Nick Granowicz (1-1-2)

Payton Matsui (1-1-2)

Brendan Schneider (0-2-2)

Bradley Cocca (1-0-1)

Matthew Kopperud continues to find ways to get on the scoresheet, extending his playoff point streak to three games with an assist on Tuesday night in Game #3. The Denver, Colorado native scored two goals in the opening game of the series before adding one in Game #2 in the 2nd period and drew an assist on the Daniel Tkac marker in the 3rd period of Game #3.

In a Game #3 that saw only a power play for each side, the Centennials have maintained strong discipline throughout the course of this best-of-seven set. Merritt sits just two penalty minutes ahead of the Wenatchee Wild for the least in the BC Hockey League with 26 this postseason after finishing the regular season with the second most amount of penalty minutes at 817 through 58 games.

The Smoke Eaters and Centennials play in Game #4 of their best-of-seven Interior Division Quarterfinal on Wednesday night from the Trail Memorial Centre with a 7:00 PM puck drop. Tickets are available for purchase at the Smoke Eaters Main Office as well as at the door ahead of the opening face-off.