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Preview – Smoke Eaters aim to start 2022 off with a win against the Bucks

Following a New Years Eve defeat on the road the Smoke Eaters return home looking to right the ship on New Years Day as the Bucks come to Cominco for a 5pm start.

Season series vs Cranbrook (Bucks lead 4-3)

Oct. 8 Trail 3 at Cranbrook 5 Final
Oct. 9 Cranbrook 1 at Trail 3 Final
Nov. 20 Trail 4 at Cranbrook 3 Final OT
Dec. 1 Trail 7 at Cranbrook 4 Final
Dec. 17 Cranbrook 5 at Trail 3 Final
Dec. 18 Trail 3 at Cranbrook 4 Final
Dec. 31 Trail 0 at Cranbrook 4 Final
Jan. 1 Cranbrook at Trail 5:00 pm PST
Jan. 15 Trail at Cranbrook 7:00 pm MST (NEW GAME DATE)

The Smoke Eaters return to Cominco looking to right the ship with a New Year’s Day win over the team that’s handed them three consecutive losses. While the 4-0 score-line last night isn’t appealing the Smoke Eaters didn’t play as bad as the score suggests. The 16 minutes of penalties however made life difficult and seemed to throw the Smoke Eaters off their game as they became frustrated with their parade to the penalty box. They’ll have to look past that and if it happens again not be phased by it if they want to get back in the win column tonight. The Bucks have taken three straight over the Smoke Eaters that has allowed them to leapfrog them in the standings and increase the gap above them. While the position isn’t necessarily the end all be all for the Smoke Eaters with the post season a high likelihood, it goes back to what Tim Fragle said in his pregame comments on Friday, stating that you can’t just flick a switch and start playing the right way and playing with the right details, it’s a mindset that the Smoke Eaters have to finalize now with a busy month of January ahead of them. It’s the first time the Smoke Eaters have been shutout this season, so expect them to respond tonight against the Bucks on home ice.

Smoke Eaters leading scorers:

Michaelis (18-12-30)
Hunter (10-20-30)
Lagerback (13-11-24)
Cunningham (6-16-22)
Disher (6-14-20)

The Bucks are in the midst of their franchise best four game winning streak as they enter 2022 and tonight’s game against the Smoke Eaters. From a bucks perspective, aside from what might be categorized as a slow start to the game the bucks picked it up in the second and then shut the door in the third. Nathan Airey stopped all 24 shots he faced and made some key saves early for the Bucks that, had he not made them, could have changed the outcome of the night. The Bucks over their last three against the Smoke Eaters have found three different ways to win but all have a common theme. They are a strong team in the second period and they are hard to beat when they have a lead in the third period. The Bucks are undefeated when taking a lead to the third this year and they showed that again on Friday limiting the Smoke Eaters to just three shots. While they might like to capitalize on a few more of their powerplay opportunities, going 3/20 in the last three games against the Smoke Eaters. however that’s just a minor detail to the Bucks who are still getting the results. Tyson Dyck and Noah Quinn might not have been all over the score sheet last night but they shutdown the Smoke Eaters top line of Cunningham, Hunter and Michealis. They were key offensively the last few games but were troublesome for the Smoke Eaters on the offensive side of the game last night.

Bucks leading scorers:

Dyck (17-18-35)
Quinn (10-13-23)
Hjartarson (10-9-19)
Pfoh (6-12-18)
Johnson (10-6-16)

It’s a early start on a Saturday as the Smoke Eaters and the Bucks drop the puck at 5pm on New Years Day at the Trail Memorial Centre. Tickets are still available and can be bought online or at the door with limited capacity available. If you can’t make it outr you can always watch the game on BCHLTV or listen free on Mixlr.com/trail-smoke-eaters/ with Ben Phillips starting at