The outlook is less than rosy for the Smoke Eaters, and they have a tough stretch, mostly at home, to manoeuvre to get back on the path to success.
Starting tonight they enter a stretch of home games, which hasn’t been a good sign so far this season – and that stretch includes two of the top coast/mainland teams – and then hit the road to end October, a trip that will include a rematch with Sunday opponent Powell River, the BCHL’s highest ranked team at the moment.
Poor play early and some bad puck luck late limited Trail’s results to one point against Alberni Valley, theoretically the weakest visitor on the October schedule, they never seemed in it against Merritt, and the opposition gets stronger from here on out.
It’s a new team, but it is past time the Smoke Eaters acted as if they at least recognized their linemates in their own zone. Forechecking seems to baffle them and they often don’t seem to have good ideas about how to move the puck forward.
On the brighter side, Trail sometimes shows flashes of skill and its goaltending is usually steady. It isn’t early anymore, however, so improvement has to happen quickly. Nobody in their division seems likely to fade away, so finishing in a playoff spot needs to start soon.
One wonders how it is possible a team with the second-ranked special teams in the entire league – second best power play and third best penalty kill – cannot get it together six on six often enough to stay in games in their own building.
New week, new opponents, new hope, especially if the Smokies put up a good fight last night. Playing well (and scoring) early will be key for Trail.
• Meanwhile, some local sports figures are having success. Thea Culley helped lead the Canadian team to the podium over several much more highly ranked hockey teams in international play recently and Corey Worral has a singular achievement to add to his resume.
And, Alice Munro, whose work almost all Canadian post-secondary students must at least browse, has vindicated all those who assign it by winning the Nobel Prize in Literature for her life’s work.
Those are some things to smile about while we make are way around/through the downtown mess.
The brightest spot, although I am not banking on its veracity, is that the sign at the top of Cominco hill says it will all be over this time next week.