Following a tough 6-5 overtime loss Friday to the Chilliwack Chiefs, the Trail Smoke Eaters will look to extend a Vernon Vipers losing skid when the Vipers visit the Cominco Arena on Wednesday.
Vernon dropped a pair of games to Langley on the weekend, 2-1 and 5-2, and with seven games remaining in the regular season sit somewhat uncomfortably in third spot of the Interior division just three points up on Merritt, with a game in hand, and four points ahead of Salmon Arm.
The Smokies beat Vernon 4-1 at home on Jan. 3 and while Trail’s playoff hopes are long gone, they can make Vernon’s road to the playoff round a little bumpy.
To be an effective spoiler, the Smoke Eaters will have to shut down the Vipers leading scoring trio of Michael McNicholas, who leads all Vernon point getters with 21 goals and 42 assists, as well as Dexter Dancs, 22-31-53, and Michigan Tech commit Demico Hannoun 15-29-44.
The Smoke Eaters played an exciting back-and-forth matchup with the Chilliwack Chiefs Friday, trading goals throughout the game before finally succumbing in overtime.
The Chiefs’ Mathieu Tibbet scored with eight seconds remaining in the first overtime period to give Chilliwack its 12th victory of the season.
Scott Davidson was named the game’s first star as he continued his impressive play of late, scoring twice and adding an assist for the Smokies, while linemate Brian Basilico took second star honours for his two-point night adding a goal and an assist.
The game saw three different lead changes as Basilico tied the match 4-4 at 8:34 of the third, and 20 seconds later, Braedan Cross converted a Nathan Browne pass to put the Smokies up 5-4. But Tibbet would tie it beating Trail goalie Dustin Nikkel with less than five minutes to play and sending the game to overtime. Brandon Volpe also scored for the Smokies.
Both Nikkel and Chiefs’ goalie Spencer Tremblay faced 43 shots on the night, while Trail went 1-for-4 on the power play and Chilliwack was 0-for-2.
The Penticton Vees meanwhile lead the Interior division with 70 points after beating the Salmon Arm SilverBacks for the first time this season, 3-2, on Friday, and Surrey, 3-0, Saturday. West Kelowna fell three points back in second place with a 3-2 OT loss to the Prince George Spruce Kings Saturday.
On Wednesday, the puck drops against the Vipers at 7:30 p.m. All students and youth will be admitted to the game free of charge as well as for the final two Smokies games on Feb. 26 also against Vernon and on Feb. 28 versus West Kelowna.
Smokie Lottery Tickets are still available, so pick up yours for a chance to win the top prize of $40,000. A total of $62,000 will be given away with the draw going in Trail’s last home game against West Kelowna between the second and third period.