In the wake of a successful road trip and a BCHL Player of the Week honour, the Trail Smoke Eaters will look to keep the puck rolling when they face the Langley Rivermen on Saturday.
The Rivermen are coming off a 4-3 overtime win over the Surrey Eagles on Wednesday, and currently hold down third place in the Mainland division with a 4-3-0-2 record.
“They are a good team, they’re right in the mix, .500, and they’ve got some good young players, they recruit well and they are a consistent organization that do a good job in getting the right team together,” said Trail Smoke Eater coach Nick Deschenes.
Langley is led by St. Paul, Minn. import Gage Torrel who has four goals and five assists on the season, and UMass-Lowell committ Evan Anderson, a five-foot-eleven, 180 pound forward who has 10 points on the season. Backstopping Langley is former Surrey netminder Bo Didur who played in six games this season with an impressive 2.78 GAA and a .918 save percentage.
The match up will showcase the best power play unit, against the best penalty killing team in the league. Trail leads the BCHL in PP, scoring 11 times in 36 opportunities for a 30.56 per cent success rate, while the Rivermen are the stingiest on the penalty kill with an 86.54 per cent. However, they’ve also taken the most penalties, with 52 short handed situations compared to 37 for Trail, one of the least penalized teams in the league.
With Jake Lucchini and Charlie Zuccarini in the top-three in scoring, Trail also boasts the most prolific offence scoring 4.5 goals per game on average. Nevertheless, the Smoke Eater coach is more worried about the more than three goals per game the team has given up.
“It’s one of those details I don’t key in on,” said Deschenes. “My perspective looks at the other end of the spectrum at the goals we have to keep out of our net.”
Smokies goalie Adam Todd has played well this season, with a respectable 3.14 GAA and a .906 save percentage, and will get the start on Saturday.
“We’ll go with Adam Todd, it’s a one-game weekend so give Brett Clark an opportunity to take some extra shots.”
The Smoke Eaters trail Penticton, 8-1-0-0, in the standings by six points and while they enjoy a game in hand, Trail can’t afford many losses against non-Interior division teams.
“We’re looking forward to the challenge, it’s going to be a good test for us. It’s important for us to do well against the other conference teams so that we don’t lose any ground, so there’s a lot to play for, and a win will put us closer to Penticton.”
The 5-3-0-0 Smokies are in a four-way tie for third spot in the Interior division with Merritt, Salmon Arm, and West Kelowna.
Trail will also be short offensively on Saturday, with forwards Dallas Calvin still out with concussion symptoms, and Robbie Johnson, out with a shoulder injury.
The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Cominco Arena.