Races heat up

"...the KIJHL’s Beaver Valley Nitehawks will, literally, be sweating out the first of three home-and-home divisional series..."

While the Smoke Eaters rest and hope the Salmon Arm Silverbacks hit town next week on the heels of two losses, the KIJHL’s Beaver Valley Nitehawks will, literally, be sweating out the first of three home-and-home divisional series that are their quest to overtake the top clubs in the league’s top division.

The first-place Nelson Leafs will be at the Fruitvale ice aerie Friday and host Beaver Valley Saturday. Make no mistake, if Beaver Valley does not sweep those game their hopes of a first place finish and an advantageous playoff pairing with the division’s fourth place Spokane squad will be pretty much gone with the winter.

If you like junior hockey (what’s not to like) these should be must-see games.

•Meanwhile, Smoke Eaters and their fans will be, audibly or not, cheering on Chilliwack and Vernon over the weekend so that Trail’s slim and slimming fourth-place chances stay alive.

After a credible performance on the road kept those chances, albeit on life support, alive, the Smokies now have to keep their fingers crossed during their 10-day break that next week’s game against the Silverbacks at Cominco Arena still holds meaning for the team when it arrives.

In the best possible world for the Smoke Eaters Salmon Arm will arrive with only two games in hand and only a two-point lead on Trail – meaning the Smokies could draw level, and retain post season hopes with a win Tuesday night.

Most of Trail’s remaining nine games are at Cominco Arena.

Fewer than half of the Silverback’s last 13 games are in Salmon Arm – and all five of those games in March are on the road – so there is that, but Trail has to face the division-leading and nationally-ranked Penticton Vees four times to close the season.

It is, to say the least, a perilous position for the Smoke Eaters, but there is, that still, small, hope for the future.

•Just a comment on the arts story in Wednesday’s Times. Velen  Vanderlick was called, “Doc,” by everybody who knew him because the nickname fit his academic credentials. He possessed at least three doctorates, including academically-earned ones in Law and Education and at least one awarded honourably to mark a very interesting life and careers path.

Multi-lingual (albeit English was his least fluent) and dedicated to children, education and this area as well as art, Doc was a local treasure. Nice to know more of his work will be available for residents to view.