It almost isn’t fair. The Smoke Eaters have won four out of six and kept their still-faint playoff hopes alive.
That means fans, who have been hoping against hope for two months still need to pay attention to something besides the team’s “next year,” potential even while they remain (mostly) convinced that next year is already in the building.
Salmon Arm Silverbacks have been slumping, and if that continues Trail’s hopes are brighter, especially since the Smokies hold the first tie breaker at the moment.
It is pretty certain, the way things have been going, that if Trail wins its remaining four games it will, in fact, earn a playoff spot – which would scare the daylights out of whomever they would meet in the playoffs.
There are, however, serious doubts about that scenario. The Smokies final four regular season games are all against the Penticton Vees – second overall in the BCHL, tied for first in goal scoring, alone at the top of the league’s defensive stats and ranked (a surprisingly low) ninth in the entire country.
While the Smokies have proved capable of competing with any team in the league on a given night – they even have a win and a one-goal away loss against the mighty Vees this season, they have also been pummeled by such bottom dwellers as Cowichan Valley and Vernon.
It has been hard for fans to tell which is the true Smoke Eaters, the team that rises up against the league’s top squads aor the team that stumbles against the rebuilding Silverbacks and other lower echelon clubs. For sure version one will be needed over the final four games for the Smokies to maintain any chance of post-season play.
Two weeks to go, beginning Saturday at Cominco Arena, and scoreboard watching will be the norm until something is settled. If the Smokies can grab a couple of points or so out of their coming home-and-away set with the Vees, the final home-and-home again games should draw huge interest, and crowds.
Don’t forget the discount ticket deals at some local businesses, nor that you likely have friends with leftovers. C’mon down.
• Then, of course, there are the KIJHL playoffs, which begin today. The toughest and most interesting series in Junior B will start tonight in Beaver Valley.
So much more fun to watch and support local hockey than what has turned into Tube Goonery from the NHL, and local teams are so much more appreciative of their supporters than those wealthy ones, that the choice of what to watch should be easy.