SPORTS N’ THINGS: Jump on Smokies’ band wagon

"I am on board with hopes for a strong season and playoff hockey."

It is a better start to a season than we have seen in a while, but until and unless Cominco Arena starts to become Fortress Smokies, we can’t count on anything yet from this year’s version of the Smoke Eaters.

Lots of good signs. Trail has won three of four and the current BCHL Player of the Week is local boy Jake Luccini. Two Smokies are in the top 10 in scoring as opposed to none in the top 40 last year, and the team is still very new and improving.

But, it will take a little more than a third-place tie in the division to rouse the troops (fans) so that game days get to be real events even in an event-starved city.

I am on board with hopes for a strong season and playoff hockey. A lot of people are not yet convinced, and with Trail having turned into a city that mostly just wants to support winners (despite all the Canucks, Flames, Oilers and Maple Leaf flags and decals rolling along local roads) there is still a need for the team to keep turning good efforts into good results.

Don’t think it will be easy Saturday night, either. Langley has the same number of points as Trail and is, like the Smokies, coming off a win. Residence in the mainland division is not, as it seemed early on, a guarantee of ineptitude. The Rivermen have allowed only one more  goal (in one more game played) than Smokies and their scoring has been very balanced, if less prolific (nine fewer goals) than Trail’s.

Still, early season play and, one hopes, home ice advantage, should stand the Smoke Eaters in good stead Saturday night. Just in case – and it is a fairly strong case to be made right now – Trail will become a playoff contender, you should get on the band wagon now. Maybe soon there will again be a band in the rink.

• Meanwhile the confounding MLB playoffs continue. Confounding because all of the season’s best teams are long gone and the also-rans are ruling the roost. If, as expected, the San Francisco Giants complete their rout of St. Louis not long after I file this piece, two of the apparently worst three post-season teams, teams that edged into the playoffs via wild card spots and scarily-close sudden death wins, will compete for the World Series trophy this year.

They will be there because they played smarter playoff baseball, and had a bit more luck, than the, “big,” teams.

The Kansas City Royals, in their first post-season play in 29 years, survived a four-run eighth inning deficit in their first game since 1985 and are on an all-time post season winning streak of eight straight games.

The Giants were so bad for three months they went from 10.5 games in front to a six-game deficit on first place, but have lost only once in their playoff run.

How they got there should not matter to ball fans, however, because the way they play has been exciting and surprising. Unless the broadcasts conflict with the Smokies’ game I recommend you tune in.

Just to get it on the record, I believe the Royals’ Cinderella coach will turn into a mouse-driven pumpkin before it is all over.

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