Smokies final home games pivotal

The Trail Smoke Eaters’ Garrett McMullen hope the bounces keep going the Smokies way as the team gets set for a pivotal stretch of games.

The Trail Smoke Eaters’ Garrett McMullen hope the bounces keep going the Smokies way as the team gets set for a pivotal stretch of games before breaking for the Christmas holidays.

The Trail captain is coming off Player of the Week honours for his two first-star perfomances last weekend in the BCHL, as the team get set to play four games in five days starting tonight in West Kelowna against the Warriors.

“It (PoW) is a great accomplishment,” said McMullen. “I had a pretty good weekend, with three goals, but I don’t know, I don’t think I’ve played that different than usual, I just got a couple more bounces going my way.”

The New York native has had a great season and sits 14th in the BCHL in scoring with 14 goals and 30 points. He is a big reason the Smokies are competing for a playoff spot heading into the New Year.

“It’s well deserving,” said Smoke Eater coach Bill Birks. “There is lots of schools sniffing around him right now so he just has to keep going and hopefully get something here quick.”

Of the four matches this week, three are against divisional rivals West Kelowna, Friday, Vernon, Saturday, and Merritt on Tuesday, with Nanaimo visiting on Sunday.

Trail is coming off huge road wins and would like to continue its three-game win streak to give themselves some breathing room on the Vipers and possibly catch Merritt and West Kelowna who are currently three points ahead of Trail with games to spare in the Interior division.

McMullen’s line mate Brent Baltus was knocked out of Friday’s game, after taking a big hit at centre ice, and is questionable.

“He might play the weekend games, it’s day to day,” said Birks. “Everyone’s paying more attention to everyone’s top guys. It was a little bit of a dirty play on Baltus, I sent it to the league but they didn’t think it was.”

McMullen like many on the Smokies have been battling illness over the past week. The 20-year-old sat out the game against Merritt because of it, and fans should expect more APs in the line up this weekend.

The team has had a penchant for big comebacks so far this season, especially, the two against Langley and Vernon.

“It’s good to keep the vibe up in the locker room and even though you get down a couple goals, it’s always good to come back,” McMullen added. “It makes the victory that much sweeter.”

The team will be tested by illness and fatigue this week, but the team can’t afford to rest, for as Birks says; “Every game, every shift is big now.”

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