The Smoke Eaters play their most important game in a while tonight.
Regardless of the result last night (NA as I write this), tonight is pretty much the first must-win game Trail has played in several seasons.
A win tonight means the Smokies will have gone farther into the playoffs than anyone expected them to – given that they had lost 10 straight to Westside heading into this series.
The last home game ended in a result that was disappointing for fans on many levels, not least that it looked like Westside, after outshooting Trail 20-5 in the 25 minutes after the second period ended, was about done in.
Trouble was, Westside wasn’t the only team playing with a short bench and the Trail players on the ice for Westside’s only (and winning) scoring chance in over five minutes were also exhausted.
That factor was puzzling because in the first two periods, when the Smokies were using four lines, Trail was slightly the better team and deserved the lead they had.
That factor was also annoying, because the very fresh legs on the end of Trail’s bench in the last 30 minutes of play had seemed to hold their own pretty well against whichever Warriors they faced in those first 40 minutes.
I haven’t seen all 64 Trail games this year, so I can’t say for sure if there is or isn’t a pattern of those third and fourth line players unused during a half hour of crunch time Tuesday giving away games if they play late in them.
I can say that the Smokies have lost four of their five overtime games since Christmas and have also blown third-period leads in four of those five, using the bench-shortening strategy.
Here’s hoping they won Thursday and don’t need overtime tonight to finish things off on a winning note.
It’s been nail-biting hockey, so you shouldn’t pass up a chance to watch it, whatever the result.
You shouldn’t pass up a chance, just in case, to give a little salute to those players that won’t be back, from moving on to school or losing age eligibility, either.
Does it seem a little suspect to you that the new, “premier,” who was the hammer on programs for the young and the poor and represented downtown Vancouver’s business interests almost exclusively while supporting the Liberal government of Gordon Campbell in all things sleazy and dishonest, is now touting her interest in, rural B.C., families, and open-ness?