It’s official … only two more months until hockey season.
The Trail Smoke Eaters, along with the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), announced the highlights of the 2019-20 regular season schedule on Tuesday.
The Smoke Eaters begin their BCHL campaign at home with an unprecedented five straight games at the Trail Memorial Centre. Trail hosts a double-header against the Penticton Vees on Sept. 6 and 7, a change from the previous three years when Trail and West Kelowna teed off in a home-and-home.
September will be a home-heavy month for the Smoke Eaters, who play six of their nine games on home ice, and the only Sunday game of the season will go on Sept. 22 against the Victoria Grizzlies.
The next week they’ll endure one of their longest road trips, travelling to Prince George to play the Fred Page Cup and Doyle Cup Champion Spruce Kings on Sept. 28.
The newly-dubbed ‘BCHL Showcase Festival presented by Bauer’ goes the first week in October this year, with a number of changes. The Mainland and Island teams will play in Chilliwack as usual, but all the Interior-Division teams will converge on Penticton and the South Okanagan Events Centre for a pair of games against Interior rivals – and Prince George, a Mainland division team.
The Smokies play Merritt on Oct. 4 and, as luck would have it, face off against the Spruce Kings on Oct. 5.
Trail also plays two mid-week games in October, with a match in Penticton Oct. 23, and a Halloween special at home when they host Wenatchee Wild on Oct. 30
Other dates of note include the team’s Island/Mainland trips, scheduled for October 11-13 versus Cowichan, Victoria and Surrey, and November 15-17 with games against Powell River, Nanaimo, and Alberni Valley. The Smokies are at home for five games and play seven-of-12 games in November against Mainland and Island Division teams, with two Wednesday games scheduled for Nov. 6 in Penticton and Nov. 27 in Merritt.
Trail kicks off December with a trip to the Lower Mainland and games against Coquitlam, Langley and Chilliwack, Dec. 6-8. They also have a Wednesday match at home Dec. 11 (Wenatchee) and on Dec. 13 (West Kelowna) for a five games in eight-day stretch. The Smokies roll into Christmas with a home game on Dec. 20 vs Cowichan and then enjoy a lengthy Christmas break from Dec. 21 to Jan. 3.
The Smoke Eaters ring in 2020 by playing seven-of-11 games at home in January. The month is highlighted by an exciting weekend, Jan. 10 and 11, with a home-and-home against the Penticton Vees, when both teams will commemorate their World Championship teams of the past and wear throwback jerseys for the weekend.
While home-friendly, January is a tough month with three games vs Wenatchee and Merritt, as well as a home-tilt with Prince George on Jan. 29.
February winds up the regular season for the Smoke Eaters with just seven games to play and four of those at home. Their final home game goes Feb. 21 vs Salmon Arm, with the season wrap-up on Feb. 22 against the Centennials in Merritt.
Smoke Eaters season tickets for the 2019-20 campaign are available at the Smoke Eaters office, which is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday as well as online at www.shop.trailsmokeeaters.com.