Hockey roundup – A tough test on tap for two teams

Both the Trail Smoke Eaters and Beaver Valley Nitehawks have big challenges ahead this weekend.

The Trail Smoke Eaters face the Coquitlam Express Friday in what is shaping up to be a more daunting task then it was three days ago.

The Smoke Eaters traded their number one point-getter, Clayton Chessa, Tuesday for futures, leaving a very big offensive hole.

Meanwhile, the Express made no moves Tuesday, sticking with a lineup that has won seven games in a row including a dramatic come-from-behind OT win against first-place Cowichan. Alex Petan leads the Express in scoring while rookie forward Alex Kerfoot was recently ranked 81st among North American skaters in the NHL Central scouting’s midterm ranking of upcoming prospects.

Returning to Trail with the Express are former-Smoke Eater defencemen Rajan Sidhu and Nicholas Wong. Trail traded Sidhu to the Drummondville Dragons for goalie James D’Andrea back in October, but Sidhu joined the Express in another deal a short time later, while Coquitlam picked up Wong from Salmon Arm in a trade for Taylor Love earlier this month.

The Express currently hold down fourth position in the Coastal Conference, two points behind Surrey and Powell River.

On Sunday, the Smokies take on the Chilliwack Chiefs, a team they are all too familiar with after dropping three games to them in the month of December.

The Chiefs are fighting for a playoff spot and currently sit in fourth place in the Interior Division, three points back of Prince George and three points up on Victoria.

Tonight’s game goes at 7:30 p.m. at the Cominco Arena, and at 3 p.m. on Sunday.

The Beaver Valley Nitehawks face a tough test this weekend as they host the Kimberley Dynamiters on Friday and the Castlegar Rebels Saturday night.

The Dynamite are in a dogfight for first place with Fernie in the Kootenay Conference. Both teams have 58 points but Kimberley has two games in hand.

The Castlegar Rebels will invade B. V. Arena Saturday in what should be a barnburner. Their last three games were 4-3, 3-1 and 6-5 decisions with the most recent won in overtime. The Rebels are only four points back of the Hawks and look to narrow the margin.

The Nitehawks hold down first place overall and are three points up on Castlegar in the Neil Murdoch Division, however, the Hawks have lost their last three games to the Rebels.

The Nitehawks centre Ryan Edwards dropped out of top spot in league scoring for the first time this season. Edwards was surpassed this week by Kimberley’s Senate Patton, 76 points, and Richard Hubscher with 73.

Edwards leads the Hawks with 23 goals and 49 assists for 72 points this season. It is Kimberley’s and B. V.’s first meeting this season.

Game time 7:30 p.m.