It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas . . .
Well, the Nitehawks are back atop the toughest division in the KIJHL heading into Castlegar tonight – so, pretty standard for this time of year.
I wish them continued good play, and good fortune.
I also wish for the roster to realize the situation and not celebrate their rise too much over the holiday break. Beaver Valley comes back after the “rest,” to face four games in five nights, all against their top rivals in the division. It can be a make or break moment for the division title if the Nitehawks are fit for the challenge.
• The Smokies, too, are in their usual holiday break spot – fighting for their lives in the toughest division in the BCHL. They seem, at times, close to righting the ship, but cannot seem to get over the hump and begin a run at a playoff spot.
I wish them some scoring from players not getting first line minutes – of 29 goals this month only 12 have not had top line players in the mix, and two of the 12 the, “others,” have tallied were on the power play, compared to four extra strength goals by the big line guys.
That is a huge imbalance, and the plus/minus aspects of it need to be corrected for Trail to make any inroads on the division’s inner circle. Better shot selection (anyone who knows me knows I cringe when, all too often, a Smoke Eater turns down a shot from the middle of the slot in favour of moving or passing the puck into a less promising spot) better shooting accuracy (dedicated practice?) and a return by Trail’s goalies to their former 90 per cent save totals will all be needed for the Smokies to make any kind of a playoff push.
I wish them all of the above improvements, and a little luck, going forward.
• I wish, too, that the fans who have been sticking with the team so loyally for so long will get to have more happy moments leaving Cominco Arena in the next few months – most could receive no better gift.
• Both the Nitehawks and Smoke Eaters have 50-50 draws coming to fruition soon. I wish for them a sellout of what must be the best stocking stuffers for either a hockey or lottery fan this year.
• I wish for everyone out there a Merry Christmas. Stay safe – winter is here. Keep the hopeful thought that by Monday the days will be getting longer.