The Trail Smoke Eaters can put a major dent in the top two teams aspirations of a first-place finish in the Interior division when they face Penticton and West Kelowna in their penultimate weekend of play in the BCHL.
The Smoke Eaters can make a difference in the race for first when they faceoff against the division-leading Penticton Vees on Friday before playing the West Kelowna Warriors, two points back of the Vees, on Saturday.
“We still got some guys with a lot of pride in that room, and we show up to the rink every day to work with those guys,” said Trail assistant coach Craig Clair.
The Vees are coming off a huge 6-3 victory over the Warriors on Tuesday despite being outshot 40-27. The win gives Penticton 72 points on the season, however, West Kelowna may have the edge as the teams wind down the season.
Each team has four games remaining, but the Warriors play the Smoke Eaters in three of their final four matches, while the Vees, following their match against Trail tonight, have two games against the Salmon Arm SilverBacks and one versus the Vernon Vipers.
The Vees have a 1-4 record against the SilverBacks so far this year, but are 4-2 against the Vipers.
The SilverBacks meanwhile will likely have to win every one of their final five matches if they hope to catch the Merritt Centennials for the final playoff spot.
The fourth-place Cents lead the Backs by five points with 61 points in the Interior division standings, while Vernon is comfortably ensconced in third place with 66 points, six points back of Penticton.
The Smoke Eaters will play shorthanded once again with Dylan Mascarin and Adam Wheeldon out for the rest of the season, and Jakson Elynuik doubtful. However, goaltender Adam Todd will return to the Smokies lineup, in addition to a couple APs.
Off the ice, Nick Deschenes is working hard for next season, organizing the Smoke Eater spring camp for midget age players and a 4-on-4 tournament for Pee Wee and Bantamn hockey players going from Mar. 28-30.
The camp will showcase up-and-coming local talents for players in the age group from 1999-2002 as well as potential Smoke Eaters for next year from the midget-age group.
The Smokies final home games go on Wednesday against Vernon and next Friday versus West Kelowna both games at 7:30 p.m. at the Cominco Arena.