The Trail Smoke Eaters embark on a three-game road trip this weekend, looking to pick up vital points against Island and Mainland Division teams.
“We head down Thursday, play Victoria Friday, Jimmy in Cowichan Saturday, and in Surrey Sunday afternoon, so it’s not an easy road trip, but hopefully we can get some goals, the moist air might help us I don’t know.” said Smoke Eater coach Bill Birks.
The Smokies visit a Victoria Grizzlies team on Friday that is coming off a dramatic 3-2 double-overtime win against the league-leading Penticton Vees last week and followed that up with another 4-3 OT win against high scoring Alberni Valley Sunday.
Led by the Fitzgerald triplets, who have accounted for half Victoria’s goals this season, 16 of 32, the Grizzlies lead the Island Division with an 8-4-0-1 record.
The defence is anchored by Cornell commit Nolan DeJong and import R.J. Jones (West Point) and the tandem of Brady Rouleau and Michael Stilidais are stingy in net with .929 and .912 save percentages respectively.
The Smokies then travel to Cowichan Valley to take on former Smokie coach Jim Ingram and the Capitals.
After a surprisingly good 2011-12 playoff-making season, Cowichan is off to a rough start with just two wins in its first 11 games. Former Smoke Eater Kyle Horseman, 18, joined the Caps last week along with goalie Connor LaCouvee as the Caps search for a reliable backstop to starter Derek Dun.
Sunday the Smokies stop by the South Surrey Arena for a tilt against the Eagles who are mired in last place in the tight mainland division, but sport a respectable 5-5-0-1 record. The Eagles are one of the younger teams in the league with 12 rookies on its roster, and should be relatively fresh after a Saturday night off.
The Smokies return to Cominco Arena Oct. 26 with a rematch against Victoria.