Big week for Smokies

If a season can hinge on a single week, this could be the one for the Trail Smoke Eaters.

If a season can hinge on a single week, this could be the one for the Trail Smoke Eaters.

The Smoke Eaters play six games in nine days, but will finally get some respite from the road. After playing its opening six of seven games away from home to start the BCHL season, including tonight’s game against West Kelowna, they will serve as hosts for games Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday.

The Smokies first travel to West Kelowna to take on the Warriors, and return home for the Saturday rematch against Craig Martin and the Vernon Vipers. Trail plays Powell River in an afternoon matchup at home on Sunday, and welcomes the Warriors back to the Cominco Arena on Tuesday night to complete a four-game-in-five-days odyssey, before hitting the road again to play the Warriors and Penticton next weekend.

“It’s a huge week, all (except Powell River) against Interior teams,” said coach and GM Bill Birks.

The Smokies were impressive in their home opener, a 3-1 win against the Warriors a week ago, and look to duplicate the result tonight at Royal LePage Place in Westbank.

In a very tight division where four of six teams – Vernon, Merritt, West Kelowna, and Trail — have an equal number of wins, this week’s slate could prove crucial for the Smokies.

“Every game is key, but especially when playing teams that are in our division,” added Birks. “It’s four-point games, so every game is huge this weekend and next weekend too. You go on a couple three game winning streaks, especially against teams in your division, it definitely changes things in a hurry.”

The team skated hard Monday, then concentrated on systems during the remainder of the week to prepare for the upcoming games.

Saturday marks Martin’s return to the Cominco Arena since he last played for the Smoke Eaters as an affiliate player during the 2011-12 season.

After a lack-luster start for the Vipers, coach Jason Williamson tinkered with his line up in the game against Trail Saturday. He moved Martin up to the top line with Adam Tambellini and Castlegar’s Aaron Hadley, as well as giving him power-play time on the point.

The move paid off as the V’s scored three power play goals, and the Tambellini line accounted for five points in the 7-2 victory.

Martin played a monumental role in the Beaver Valley Nitehawks’ KIJHL title last season playing alongside first year Smokies Scotty Davidson and Jake Lucchini, but will line up on the other side of the puck this weekend.

With Martin back in town, along with the Vipers’ Castlegar natives Hadley and Ryan Renz, and leading scorer Tambellini, son of Trail native Steve Tambellini, the Cominco Arena should see a decent crowd especially with the addition of another familiar Kootenay face Castlegar native Jesse Knowler.

The 18-year-old joined Trail last week and had an immediate impact, scoring twice including the game winner against the Warriors, and added an assist versus the Vipers in his first two games with the orange and black.

Powell River Kings end their road trip against the Smoke Eaters on Sunday afternoon after games in Chilliwack and Penticton. The perennial playoff finalists won back-to-back games against Cowichan Valley last week and are poised to fight it out with the Victoria Eagles for the Island Division title.

“They’re good, they’re the same as every year, they got their core group of guys back from last year and some pretty good recruits out of Ontario. There’s no weak sisters in this league, every team’s pretty good,” says Birk.

The Smokies also received some good news on Wednesday and announced the return of Marley Keca and Austin Aduono from the USHL, as well as acquiring defenceman Braden Pears from the Coquitlam Express. See article.

BCHL bites:

Three BCHL teams are ranked in the Canadian Hockey League’s inaugural top 20 this week with Penticton Vees leading the way at number one, the Victoria Eagles coming in at number eight, and the Coquitlam Express the 11th ranked team in the nation.

Former Smoke Eater Luke Bertolucci pocketed his first point in the WHL, picking up an assist as his Edmonton Oil Kings downed the Red Deer Rebels 4-2 on Sunday.

Just Posted

Area A Director Ali Grieve (right), Village of Fruitvale Mayor Steve Morissette (front), and Village of Montrose Mayor Mike Walsh (left) held a congratulatory ceremony for Beaver Valley students who are part of the Class of 2021 graduates of J. L. Crowe Secondary at Beaver Creek Park on Thursday. Photo: Jim Bailey
Beaver Valley Grads of 2021

Beaver Valley mayors, RDKB Area A director celebrate their 2021 graduates with gift ceremony

Adrian Moyls is the Selkirk College Class of 2021 valedictorian and graduate of the School of Health and Human Services. Photo: Submitted
Selkirk College valedictorian proves mettle in accomplishment

Adrian Moyls is a graduate of the School of Health and Human Services

A volunteer delivers food to families as part of a West Kootenay EcoSociety program. Photo: Submitted
Farms to Friends delivers 2,500th bag of food to families in need

The program services communities in the Nelson, Trail and Castlegar areas

Selkirk College has begun its search in earnest for a leader to replace president Angus Graeme who is set to retire from his position in May 2022. Photo: Submitted
Selkirk College seeks community input for president search

Current president Angus Graeme retires next year

A report shows nine West Kootenay communities are have more low-income persons than the provincial average. File photo
Study casts new light on poverty in the West Kootenay

Nine communities in region have more low-income residents than provincial average

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Most Read