The Trail Smoke Eaters embark on their final journey to Vancouver Island this season looking for a three-game sweep as they get set to face the Cowichan Valley Capitals, the Nanaimo Clippers, and Victoria Grizzlies on the weekend.
“We are looking for six points,” said Smokies coach Nick Deschenes. “We are going to start with the first game and go from there. We took four-of-six in the last swing in that part of the world, so we have to have these points and the group is capable I think.”
Trail is coming off a couple of crucial home wins against Victoria and Coquitlam and will look to extend that streak against Cowichan on Friday. The Capitals are mired in the basement of the Island division with a 4-17-0-1 record and are led offensively by former Smoke Eater Kyle Horsman with 12 goals and 17 points on the season. The 20-year-old played 40 games for the Smokies in 2011-12 netting three goals and four assists that season. His production this year almost equals the 22 points he put up in his previous campaign accounting for almost one quarter of the Caps 53 goals scored this season.
At the top end of the spectrum is the Clippers who lead the Island division with a 16-7-0-0 record and are second overall in the league with 32 points. Trail plays Nanaimo on Saturday, a team that has scored more goals, 104, than any team in the league and have six scorers with 20 or more points. The Clips are led by high flying forwards Sheldon Rempal, Jacob Jackson, and Brendan Taylor who have 29, 28, and 27 points respectively.
Trail will then face Victoria on Sunday a team they beat 10-4 last Friday at the Cominco Arena. However, Victoria is coming off an impressive 5-4 victory over Nanaimo on Wednesday as they move to 9-8-0-4 and pull within three points of third place Powell River.
The Smokies meanwhile are led by Charlie Zuccarini, 14-12-26, who picked up three goals and two assists in the two wins, including the double-overtime winner in the 4-3 victory over Coquitlam Saturday.
Adam Todd and Dallas Calvin will return to the line up, but just as the Smoke Eaters look to be healthy, the Smokies lose Craig Martin and Brian Basilico to injury.
With their next win, the Smoke Eaters will surpass their 10-win total from all of last year, and despite a vast improvement, Trail still finds itself in sixth spot in the Interior division, but will look to make up ground on the Island this weekend.
“Our focus is to be in the playoffs, which (means) it’s going to be beaten for sure, that’s what your goal is,” said Deschenes. “I still think we are better than our record says, and i think there is more potential to play better and accomplish more.”
The Smokies next home game goes Nov. 28 against the West Kelowna Warriors.