Big games at local rinks

"Saturday night was among the most exciting nights at Cominco Arena in a very long time..."

Happy St. David’s Day! to all with Welsh blood and those who care about them.

Saturday night was among the most exciting nights at Cominco Arena in a very long time, and the roar resulting from the overtime winner for Trail was the loudest noise at a local hockey game – despite the sparse crowd – in equally as long.

And yet, this Saturday has the potential to be a more exciting night in and around the Home of Champions

Depending on the results from Friday, there may be two intense and pressure-packed games in the area.

The Beaver Valley Nitehawks might be playing a game seven playoff tilt against fierce rival Nelson Leafs at the Hawks’ Nest at the same time that the Trail Smoke Eaters continue fighting for their post-season lives against the Penticton Vees, who are themselves in a battle for first place in the interior division, at Cominco Arena.

So, forget the crumbling Canucks and get out to a local rink and have some fun. If the Nitehawks/Leafs series is over, make your way to downtown Trail – where the Smokies have been putting on a good show for a couple of weeks now.

The permutations and potentialities within the fourth-place fight between Trail and Salmon Arm are myriad.

If the Silverbacks produce eight points from their five final games, they win. That is highly unlikely given Salmon Arm’s rough road schedule. If the Smokies can get four points out of their last three games – which is possible – they could, against all odds and prognostications, get into a playoff round in which recent results suggest they would have a chance at success.

If, ands, and buts, I know, but bumpy rides are the most entertaining. Even relatively poor seasons, like the Smokies’ this year, can turn on small things.

Consider this: in mid-January the Smoke Eaters played the Silverbacks in a home and home everyone knew could be crucial and picked up a single point to Salmon Arm’s four in losing in regulation and overtime. A split, even the extra overtime point Trail did not get, would have seen the Smokies in very good position right now, with a standings lead and the first tiebreaker sewn up. Just one point gained by Trail and lost by Salmon Arm that weekend may end up making all the difference at the end of a six-plus month season.

But, that season may still be there to be salvaged with a bit of luck and the Smoke Eaters have been so much fun to watch of late it will be a bummer if it all ends Mar. 10.

So much fun, in fact, that they deserve a good turnout Saturday night, however dire their post-season chances.

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