The Rossland-Trail Midget Tier 2 Smoke Eaters are hosting their annual tournament this weekend with teams from Washington, Montana and the Okanagan all set to hit the ice.
The RTMHA Smoke Eaters play in the Midget Tier 2 league of the Okanagan Mainline Amateur Hockey Association (OMAHA) and currently sit in third place with eight wins, five losses, and two ties.
The Smokies will play in Pool B against teams from Missoula, Spokane U-16 and Kelowna III and coach Gary Gwillim expects some tough match ups.
“The Spokane U-16 team are quite good,” said Gwillim. “We played them four times last year, and beat them three times and they beat us once but they were all close games.”
While the two Spokane teams may prove the biggest test, the other American squad from Missoula, Mont. remains a bit of an unknown.
“We’ve never played them but usually they’re pretty good, and they are always hot to come up and play here,” added Gwillim.
The Smokies players range in age from 15 to 18 years old and while the team has competed well in the league, injuries have plagued the Smokies this season. Most players are back now and they should be in good shape this weekend.
The tournament’s round-robin format is even more important this year, as the top team from each pool will automatically play for the gold on Sunday, with second, third and fourth place teams playing each other.
The first game of the eight-team tournament will see Spokane U-18 face off against the Nelson midget Leafs at 2:15 p.m. at the Cominco Arena Friday, with games ongoing at the Trail and Rossland arenas until the finals on Sunday.
Pool B is comprised of Nelson, Winfield, Spokane U-18 and Merritt.
Rossland-Trail’s first game goes Friday at 6:45 p.m. against the U-16 team from Spokane.