Smokies look to snap slump against Westside

All that success in January is history and now the Trail Smoke Eaters face their season-long nemesis to kick off February.

Trail 0-4 this season against potential

playoff opponent

All that success in January is history and now the Trail Smoke Eaters face their season-long nemesis to kick off February.

Tonight at the Cominco Arena, the Smokies host the Westside Warriors in yet another key divisional matchup.

With the Warriors six points behind Trail for fourth in the Interior Division and the Smoke Eaters only two points behind Salmon Arm for third place, every point becomes even more crucial as the regular season finish line approaches.

While the Smokies are coming off a solid January, the Warriors’ 8-1 win over Quesnel on Saturday helped take the sting out of a month full of struggles.

Westside has won only three of its last 11 games since their last visit to the Cominco Arena where they spanked the Smokies 7-1 in front of the biggest crowd of the season.

The win was the Warriors’ fourth in four meetings with Trail and with a potential playoff matchup looming, Smokies head coach Jim Ingram is anxious to reverse that trend.

“I want to see what we do against Penticton and the Westside,” he said. “Those are the ones where we’ve been getting clobbered, since I’ve been here anyways.”

The Warriors will be without head coach Darren Yopyk, who will be serving the final game of his three-game suspension. He was handed the penalty after he was tossed from a game in Prince George a week ago.

The Smoke Eaters face Westside twice in the next five days, tonight and Saturday, with a game against Penticton sandwiched in on Friday night.

The following weekend, Feb. 11 and 12, the Smokies take on Salmon Arm in a home-and-home series. The team wraps up the 2010-11 regular season on Feb. 18 and 19 with games in Vernon and Merritt.

“We’re going to get tested big time here with Westside, Penticton, Salmon Arm and Merritt,” said Ingram.

“That’s going to tell us where we’re at.”