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GAME PREVIEW: Smoke Eaters Aim For Three In A Row Hosting Clippers

PHOTO: Garrett James/BCHL

The Trail Smoke Eaters look to keep their perfect record in 2019 alive and aim for their third consecutive victory as they host the Island Division’s Nanaimo Clippers to close out the two-game season series on Friday night at the Trail Memorial Centre.

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

Sunday, October 7th @ Frank Crane Arena (4-3 Clippers/SO) (BOXSCORE)

Friday, January 11th @ Trail Memorial Centre (7:00 PM)

The Smoke Eaters and Clippers cap off their two-game season series tonight with Nanaimo picking up a shootout victory in the team’s only meeting to date in early October at Frank Crane Arena. Kent Johnson scored twice while affiliate player Michael Hagen collected his first career BC Hockey League tally in a three-goal 1st period before the Clippers came back for the win. Adam Marcoux made 23 saves on 26 shots in the shootout defeat to end a three-game Island road trip.

Trail comes into the game Friday night after a pair of wins to begin 2019, including their largest offensive output of the season in an 8-4 victory over the West Kelowna Warriors at Royal LePage Place last Saturday. Kent Johnson collected his first career BCHL hat-trick while Trevor Zins recorded a pair of goals and five points on the night. Tyler Ghirardosi, Chase Stevenson and Hayden Rowan also found the back of the net while Adam Marcoux turned away 26 of the 30 shots he faced in the game in his 14th win of the season.

Smoke Eaters Leading Scorers:

Chase Stevenson (16-23-39)

Carter Jones (12-24-36)

Kent Johnson (15-17-32)

Trevor Zins (10-22-32)

Braeden Tuck (11-20-31)

The Smoke Eaters made a pair of moves before the January 10th Trade Deadline, picking up two players from the Western Hockey League. Defenseman Luke Gallagher joins the team after playing 66 career games with the Spokane Chiefs where he registered 1 goal and 6 assists for 7 points in that span before coming to Trail. Donovan Buskey also joins the team after playing with Spokane and Prince Albert

Smoke Eaters fourth-year forward Spencer McLean will get into his 200th career regular season game tonight. The Montrose, BC native has earned 31 goals and 43 assists for 71 points in his previous 199 games as well as adding 100 penalty minutes in that span. McLean has registered 5 goals and 4 assists for 9 points in 26 games played this season including 13 penalty minutes.

After an 11-game absence, forward Mack Byers will make his return to the Smoke Eaters lineup tonight against the Clippers. The Long Lake, Minnesota native has been out of the lineup since December 1st against Penticton and brings plenty of experience back to the club. Byers has produced 9 goals and 7 assists for 16 points in 32 games played this season while collecting 14 goals and 10 assists for 24 points in 60 career BCHL games.

The Nanaimo Clippers come into Friday night with a record of 21-18-0-0 and have won nine games in a row after a 4-1 victory over the Wenatchee Wild on Sunday afternoon at Frank Crane Arena. Gunnar Wegleitner scored twice in the game while Sammy Steele and Marcus Mitchell tallied singles in the victory. Landon Pavlisin turned aside 35 of the 36 shots he faced in the game in his 7th win of the season.

Clippers Leading Scorers:

Ethan Scardina (19-20-39)

Tyler Williams (11-19-30)

Marcus Mitchell (12-16-28)

Aiden Hansen-Bukata (5-22-27)

Sammy Steele (11-15-26)

The Clippers enter Friday night as one of the hottest teams in the BCHL, winning their last nine games and have made waves in the Island Division. The Clippers have outscored their opponents by a 40-19 margin over that span including scoring four or more goals in eight of those nine contests.

Nanaimo captain and forward Marcus Mitchell missed a long stretch of time with an injury this season but the four-year BCHL veteran has brought plenty of offence in his return to the lineup. The Kelowna, BC native has 12 goals and 28 points in 24 games played this season and has points in each of his last five games, registering three goals and six assists for nine points in that stretch, including goals in each of his last three contests.

Another Clipper forward to have found plenty of recent success has been South Lyon, Michigan native Tyler Williams. The rookie has compiled a strong first season in the BC Hockey League, registering 11 goals and 19 assists for 30 points to sit second in team scoring and is riding a four-game point streak where he has collected three goals and five assists for eight points in that span.

The Smoke Eaters and Clippers drop the puck at 7:00 PM from the Trail Memorial Centre in the second of their two-game season series. Tickets are available for purchase at the Smoke Eaters Main Office as well as at the door ahead of the opening face-off.