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GAME PREVIEW: Smoke Eaters Eye 2-0 Interior Division Semi Final Series Lead In Vernon

PHOTO: Lisa Mazurek/Lisa Mazurek Photography

The Trail Smoke Eaters look to take a 2-0 series lead back home as they face-off against the Vernon Vipers in Game #2 of the best-of-seven Interior Division Semi Final on Saturday night at Kal Tire Place.

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

Saturday, September 15th @ Kal Tire Place (3-1 Smoke Eaters) (BOXSCORE)

Wednesday, October 17th @ Kal Tire Place (4-0 Vipers) (BOXSCORE)

Wednesday, November 14th @ Trail Memorial Centre (3-2 Smoke Eaters) (BOXSCORE)

Saturday, November 24th @ Kal Tire Place (1-0 Vipers) (BOXSCORE)

Wednesday, December 12th @ Trail Memorial Centre (3-2 Vipers/OT) (BOXSCORE)

Friday, February 1st @ Trail Memorial Centre (6-3 Vipers) (BOXSCORE)

Interior Division Semi Final Schedule:

Game #1: Friday, March 15th @ Kal Tire Place (3-1 Smoke Eaters) (BOXSCORE)

Game #2: Saturday, March 16th @ Kal Tire Place (7:00 PM)

Game #3: Tuesday, March 19th @ Trail Memorial Centre (7:00 PM)

Game #4: Wednesday, March 20th @ Trail Memorial Centre (7:00 PM)

*Game #5: Friday, March 22nd @ Kal Tire Place (7:00 PM)

*Game #6: Saturday, March 23rd @ Trail Memorial Centre (7:00 PM)

*Game #7: Monday, March 25th @ Kal Tire Place (7:00 PM)

* – If Necessary

The Smoke Eaters opened the series with a strong defensive game, allowing just 17 shots against as they picked up a 3-1 victory in Game #1 of the best-of-seven Interior Division Semi Final against the Vernon Vipers on Friday at Kal Tire Place. Braeden Tuck and Spencer McLean scored 3rd period goals with Carter Jones adding an empty net marker in the win. Donovan Buskey turned aside 16 of the 17 shots he faced in the game in his 5th victory of the playoffs.

Smoke Eaters Regular Season 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 (2-6-8)

Kent Johnson (4-2-6)

Mack Byers (3-3-6)

Braeden Tuck (3-2-5)

Chase Stevenson (1-4-5)

The Smoke Eaters captain has started to find an offensive groove as Braeden Tuck played a big role in the series-clinching Game #5 victory against the Merritt Centennials in the Interior Division Quarterfinal and played a big part in Game #1 of this series. The Sacred Heart University commit has points in each of his last three games with 3 goals and 2 assists for 5 points in that span and has scored in each of his last three contests.

Tyler Ghirardosi found his way back on the scoresheet for the Smoke Eaters in Game #1 of the series and continues to lead the team with two goals and six assists for eight points. The Montrose, BC product has points in five of the six postseason games thus far for the Smoke Eaters and has now collected 10 goals and 8 assists for 18 points in 18 career playoffs games in the BC Hockey League.

Trail has done something in the playoffs that they were not able to do a lot of during the regular season and that is string large stretches of wins together as Friday night’s victory was the 5th in a row for the Smoke Eaters. Trail has outscored their opposition by a 20-9 margin over that span including each of their last three road games culminating in victories. The Game #1 win was also the first series opening win for Trail since the first round of last year’s playoffs, a spam of three series’ in total.

The Vipers look to even up the series before heading back to Trail after a 3-1 loss in Game #1 of the best-of-seven Interior Division Semi Final set at Kal Tire Place. Ben Sanderson scored the lone 3rd period goal for Vernon while Aidan Porter stopped 21 of the 23 shots he faced in the game in his 2nd defeat of the postseason.

Vipers Regular Season Leading Scorers:

Matt Kowalski (13-30-43)

Teddy Wooding (21-19-40)

Josh Latta (19-21-40)

Connor Marritt (13-27-40)

Jack Judson (7-26-33)

 

Vipers Playoff Scoring Leaders:

Jesse Lansdell (2-5-7)

Jagger Williamson (2-5-7)

Matt Kowalski (3-1-4)

Ben Sanderson (2-1-3)

Josh Latta (1-2-3)

Scoring the lone goal in Game #1 for the Vipers, forward Ben Sanderson has had a bit of a hot hand as of late when it comes to the offensive side of his game. The Colorado College commit has points in three of his last four games with two goals and an assist for three points and sits 4th in playoff scoring. The Calgary, Alberta native is no stranger to Junior ‘A’ playoff games as he got into 13 contests a season ago with the Okotoks Oilers of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL).

Keeping the crease of the Vipers has been 18-year-old Aidan Porter, who has done a very good job in between the pipes for Vernon this season and throughput the playoffs. The Princeton University commit posted a BCHL-leading four shutouts this regular season and holds the second-best goals against average in the league at 1.81. The Boston, Massachusetts native has also seen plenty of the net, ranking 4th in the BCHL in minutes played at 398 through siz games, including a triple-overtime Game #5 against Salmon Arm.

One thing Vernon has done very effectively over the course of the postseason has been their penalty kill as it remained rock solid in Game #1. The Vipers went 3-for-3 on the penalty kill in the series opening matchup, including a two-man advantage of over a minute, and have killed off each of the last 14 penalties they have taken, a span of five games. Vernon has not surrendered a goal against on the penalty kill since Game #1 against Salmon Arm in the opening round.

The Smoke Eaters and Vipers will play in Game #2 of their best-of-seven Interior Division Semi Final set for a 7:00 PM puck drop. The game will be broadcasted with a FREE audio stream at mixlr.com/trail-smoke-eaters as well as on pay-per-view at HockeyTV.com beginning with the Teck Trail Operations Pre-Game Report at 6:45 PM with the Voice of the Smoke Eaters, Trevor Miller.