BCHL – Rested Smokies still determined

With two huge wins for Salmon Arm on the weekend, the Trail Smoke Eaters task of making the post season became even more formidable.

With two huge wins for Salmon Arm on the weekend, the Trail Smoke Eaters task of making the post season became even more formidable.

Salmon Arm beat Chilliwack Friday 3-1 and Vernon by the identical score Saturday to stretch its lead for the final playoff berth to six points over the idle Smokies in the Interior division.

With two games in hand, the SilverBacks have a decided edge, but coming off an extended eight-day rest, and seven of its final nine games at home, the Smokies are relatively healthy, rested, and ready for the run at the playoffs.

“With our schedule and our travel the last month and a half, it’s good for these kids to take some time away,” said Trail Smoke Eater coach Bill Birks. “They’re all focused and they know we can do it.”

The Smoke Eater took four of six points on a three-game road swing to the coast and Vancouver Island last weekend, the only loss a close 5-4 decision to Alberni, in what Birks describes as the team’s best game.

“It would be nice to win out no matter what, but Salmon Arm has a pretty tough schedule, so do we . . . but I think the next five are very winnable.” said Birks. “But Tuesday (tonight) is a huge game.”

Salmon Arm will rely on its six-foot-five University of New Hampshire commit, goalie Adam Clark, to carry the load down the stretch. Clark stopped 59 of 61 shots in his two games on the weekend dropping his goals against average to 2.46 with a .928 save percentage.

The Smokies received big games from Luke Sandler, Braden Pears, and Scott Davidson and some solid goaltending from Lyndon Stanwood and Adam Todd on the weekend, and will need everyone at the top of their game to beat Clark and the Backs tonight. A Smokies win will definitely brighten their playoff hopes, and it’s something the players believe can happen.

“We’re really going to push hard,” said Sandler. “We just have to keep winning games and hope Salmon Arm loses. It’s close but I think if we just battle and win every game, we can do it.”

Following tonight’s game, the Backs play West Kelowna and the Island division leading Victoria Grizzlies this weekend, while Trail hosts Alberni Valley Friday, and plays in West Kelowna against the Warriors Tuesday.

Also tonight is toonie Tuesday at the Cominco Arena. Buy one ticket and get the second for $2; also enjoy  popcorn, fries, hotdogs, and pizza for a toonie each.

The puck drops against Salmon Arm tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Cominco Arena.