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Preview – Smoke Eaters Host Vipers, As Playoff Race Heats Up

With both teams coming off a 6-5 loss on Friday night, the Smoke Eaters and Vipers meet up In Trail as the Smoke Eaters look to continue closing the gap between them and the Vipers in the Interior Conference.

Season Series Against the Vipers

Feb. 3 Vernon 4 at Trail 1 Final
Feb. 20 Trail 3 at Vernon 2 Final OT
Feb. 25 Vernon at Trail 7:00 pm PST
Mar. 17 Trail at Vernon 7:00 pm PDT
Mar. 18 Trail at Vernon 6:00 pm PDT

The Smoke Eaters will have to pick themselves up and get ready to go again after a bit of a heartbreaker on Friday night in West Kelowna. The Smoke Eaters found themselves down 3-0 after the first but battled all the way back, holding both a 4-3 and 5-4 lead over the Warriors, who would score late to tie the game sending it to overtime. Despite the start, the Smoke Eaters flipped the script, getting goals from five different players, and largely played a near perfect third period defensively with the Warriors pushing back for an equalizer of their own. That being said, to get just a point for the effort the Smoke Eaters put in over the second and third period is a tough pill to swallow, but it again serves as a reminder they need to play a full 60 minutes against every opponent in this league. The Smoke Eaters got that last Monday in Vernon and will need it again here on home ice as they look to close the gap between themselves and the Vipers. With ten games remaining for the Smoke Eaters A regulation win tonight over the Vipers would bring them within four points of the Smoke Eaters, who hold a game in hand and play them twice more in March before the season comes to an end.

Smoke Eaters leading scorers:

Hunter (15-32-47)
Cobetto-Roy (10-25-35)
Remissong (15-18-33)
Bushy (6-25-31)
Parsons (12-16-28)

The Vipers also come into Saturday’s game off a 6-5 loss on Friday night, as they fell in regulation to the Cranbrook Bucks at Western Financial Place. The Vipers went toe to toe with the Bucks after being down 3-1 in the first, scoring three of the six scored in the second and adding one more in the third to bring the game within reach but were unable to find their equalizer. The loss snaps a four game point streak for the Vipers who are now 2-1-2 in their last five games and have lost their last three games. The Vipers will be hoping to get back in the win column as they wrap up their Kootenay road swing, as they’ll head to Prince George for two games next weekend. Roan Clarke and Ethan David played goalie merry-go-round for the Vipers last night, with Clarke starting and finishing the game but being pulled early in the second and then returning for the third. David played well in the previous two meetings against the Smoke Eaters and could see the start tonight, but with the split game it’s also possible that Clarke will man the crease against the Smoke Eaters for the first time tonight. 

Vipers leading scorers:

Parks (20-21-41)
Milburn (14-22-36)
Pakulak (11-20-31)
Erickson (14-13-27)
Tanaka-Campbell (11-15-26)

It’s the final time the Vipers will be in Trail this season as the Smoke Eaters wrap up their weekend of games on home against the Vipers. Tickets are still available and can be bought online at tickets.trailsmokeeaters.com or at the ticket booth which opens at 6pm. If you can’t make it to the game catch all of tonight’s action on HockeyTV, the Shaw Community Spotlight or listen on Mixlr.com with the pregame show starting at 6:45.