Sports ‘n’ Things: Smoke Eaters make final playoff push

"Nobody thought the Smoke Eaters would even still be in contention for a playoff spot with a game to play."

Predicting things kids playing games will do is usually a plainly foolish exercise.

To whit below.

Nobody thought the Smoke Eaters would even still be in contention for a playoff spot with a game to play. Nobody expected a double overtime loss to the Vernon Vipers in late January, which seemed just another frustration in a frustrating month, would/could play a critical part in Trail’s chances for post season play.

But, there it is. If Trail had held on to win that game on Jan. 23, Saturday night’s finale on Trail ice, against those same Vipers, would be a winner-takes-the-playoff spot contest. It still might be, but the Smoke Eaters failing to gain two points that night means we will not know the Smokies’ potential fate until the scores come in from games tonight.

If the Wenatchee Wild can get a regulation time win over the Vipers tonight that will mean the Smoke Eaters, amazingly, can still secure a recently rare post-season spot – which would be a serious coup for the reshuffled coaching staff – with a win Saturday night in Cominco Arena. Any other result in Vernon Friday will end the Smokies’ chances.

Funny old thing, life is. Wenatchee has been seriously better than Vernon in the past couple of months and enter tonight’s game 6-2-1 in February while the Vipers just barely ended a six-game losing streak with a double overtime win over the BCHL’s bottom-feeding Surrey Eagles.

The Wild, however, have just a win and a tie since their chase for the mainland title ended, and already know their first round opponent and schedule.  Their motivation level, however much the coaching staff may want to build momentum for the post-season, is suspect.

The Vipers know what is at stake, so motivation shouldn’t be an issue for them. The Wild are more talented and generally better organized. Vernon, however is a bunch of cornered snakes and will be in their own pit.


Trail’s recent play, particularly the seriously gutsy battle they produced in Tuesday’s win against a talented and apparently quite motivated Salmon Arm team, makes one wish they  get the opportunity tomorrow to compete for something big.  No way I am into predicting whether or not that will happen.

If it does, or even if it doesn’t, I am hoping to see a big crowd at Cominco Arena Saturday night. The kids on this edition of the Smoke Eaters  have battled serious head winds to get this close – we should be proud of their efforts – and half a dozen, at least, of them will be playing their last game in Orange and Black.

Then there are the facts that: Smokie games generally provide high quality, exciting, entertainment for little money; it is a very good thing to have a Junior A franchise in Trail and that requires money from game days; the giant 50-50, and the regular game day one, will both be on offer; and lots of your friends will be in the building.

So, you should go.