Playoff schedule causes conflict for teams and fans

Not much of a drive involved for local hockey fans, just the trip to Castlegar, if they want to watch junior hockey playoff games this weekend.Both local teams are on the road, Aye, there’s the rub, but the Nitehawks and their fans don’t have far to go.The rub comes in, however, when the teams are at home – Monday and Tuesday for both the Smoke Eaters and the Nitehawks – their games will conflict. That can reduce the revenue produced by each team by $1,000 each game, or more. That on top of the games being mid-week, rather than the weekend games their opponents get to play on home ice.Nothing unfair about it, just the way the bricks settle out when you don’t excel in the regular season.Almost as important as the cash involved is the fact that when games are played in both Fruitvale and Trail the same night, crowds at each are smaller and quieter than when the games are standalones. The fact is that both teams are in tough against teams expected to beat them. Trail is 0-6 this season and 0-for-10 going back to last year’s playoff round, against the Westside Warriors. The Nitehawks have put up a better battle with Castlegar of late, but are 2-6 on the season and haven’t scored well against the Rebels.Hope still exists, but, just in case the odds hold true, we should get out and enjoy what is always entertaining junior hockey while there is some left to be seen this winter.Fruitvale has some terrific young talent and all of it won’t be here on any local roster after this season. Trail has some truly top tier BCHL talent, much of which will be gone – either to college lineups or because of age – whenever the Smoke Eater season ends. Want to be able to say you saw them when? Got to get to the rink(s) this week to be sure.   Smokie fans, you know Trail can hold its own with Penticton, Salmon Arm and Vernon. What if a little support could help them turn the corner against the Warriors? I know, not unless they forecheck the way the Warriors do, but maybe they have been practicing to do just that. Here’s hoping, anyway. Point is, the Smoke Eaters have as much talent on their roster as Westside does, so could surprise us. Be terrible to miss it.*****The little dustup between the IOC and VANOC over vote-trading with Russia is, trust me, just the tip of the iceberg. Olympic money types can’t help themselves and down the road the bribes and lies will all be revealed, along with the costs to maintain all the, “legacies,” few will use.*****Nice to see Cathy Overton-Clapham – who was poorly treated, both monetarily and personally, by her erstwhile Team Canada (a title she had a big part in procuring) teammates – bring her considerable A game to Wednesday’s matchup between her old and new rinks at the Scotties. You have to feel just a little for Cathy O’s replacement, Kaitlyn Lawes, however. As I write this Team Canada was no certainty to even make it to this year’s playoffs after three straight title years with Cathy O at third.Hard to feel bad for the rest of them, though.*****Happy St. David’s Day (Tuesday), to all my Welsh friends and admirers.