Trail Smoke Eaters brace for Spruce Kings and Silverbacks

Prince George Spruce Kings make their first stop in Trail to take on the Smoke Eaters on Friday.

The Trail Smoke Eaters look for their seventh straight win tonight when they host the Prince George Spruce Kings at the Cominco Arena, and follow that up with a Sunday afternoon tilt against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.

Although it’s only November, the 16-4-1-0 Smoke Eaters are on top of the BCHL standings and on a roll. The Smokies swept all three road matches against Island Division teams last weekend, with Levi Glasman earning Player of the Week honours; Trail also announced an NCAA commitment for Seth Barton, and are the highest ranked BCHL team, 15th, on the Canadian Junior Hockey League Top-20 national rankings.

“We’re happy where we are at but we also know we need to continually get better,” said Smoke Eaters coach and GM Cam Keith. “It’s a very tough division, and we’re still tied with Vernon.”

Despite winning eight of their last nine games and tied for first place overall in the BCHL, the Smokies don’t have the luxury to sit back and enjoy the view from the top of the Interior Division with a tough game against the Spruce Kings tonight, and then crucial matches against division rivals Salmon Arm, Penticton, Vernon, and Merritt on the immediate horizon.

“The realistic part of it now is being a win-some lose-some team isn’t satisfactory anymore. We have a special group this year, and we’re taking it as this is our year, and trying to win the BCHL.”

The 10-7-2-3 Spruce Kings are coming off two double-overtime victories over Mainland Division leaders Langley Rivermen, and will look to carry that momentum into Trail tonight.

“Prince George is a very good team, and I think they’re second in their division right now, and they have some very good players, and we’re catching them on their first game, which is also going to be a challenge.”

Prince George also added some talent and grit this week, acquiring high-end forward Blake Hayward from the Coquitlam Express in a trade for 20-year-old veteran and former WHLer Nicholas Holowko. Hayward twice played in the World Junior A Challenge and is a Union College commit, who netted 29 points last season in 51 BCHL games. Hayward will play his first game for P. G. tonight against the Smokies.

“Blake brings a great skill set to our team,” said Spruce Kings GM Mike Hawes. “He also plays with an edge which will be a nice addition to the group. He will be leaned heavily upon to help provide leadership on and off the ice.”

The Spruce Kings are led by Quinnipiac commit Ethan De Jong. The 18-year-old forward has eight goals and 23 points this season and is a skilled playmaker, particularly when lined up alongside veterans Kyle Jonson (9-9-18) and Ben Brar (8-12-20).

Evan DeBrouwer came over from Nanaimo earlier this year and has stabilized the crease for the Spruce Kings. Sporting a 7-6-3 record, DeBrouwer has had the hot hand of late, stopping 116 of 122 shots in his last four starts for a .951 save percentage.

Trail’s home games are key to their continued success, and wins this weekend will be timely as Interior-Division points are at a premium with Vernon facing off against Penticton in a home-and-home, West Kelowna at Wenatchee, and Merritt playing Salmon Arm.

“Every game now, we feel like we need to win because home ice is so important as we saw against Vernon last year,” said Keith. “It was really tough for us – you need to have home ice, and that’s our focus right now is to make sure we win these divisional match ups and get wins against our non-conference teams.”

Salmon Arm is going in the other direction. The ‘Backs are coming off a 5-2 loss to West Kelowna on Wednesday, and have lost six straight since a 3-1 victory against West Kelowna on Oct. 22. Trail beat Salmon Arm in their first two matches this season.

“Salmon Arm is a team that’s been improving, and I think they’re .500 now, where they started off very slow … they’re a much improved team, so it’s going to be two tough games, especially because we’re playing a little bit hurt right now.”

The Smokies road trip to the Island did prove costly, as Trail will be without injured forwards Blaine Caton, Ryan Murphy, and Braedon Tuck for tonight’s game. Goaltender Tanner Marshall is expected back in the line up, after sitting out two weeks with an upper body injury.

The puck-drop for the Smoke Eaters vs Spruce Kings game is at 7 p.m. tonight at the Cominco Arena, and at 3 p.m. on Sunday against the Silverbacks.

Just Posted

BC senior championship: Tie breakers to decide men’s, Richter goes undefeated in women’s

Marilou’s Richter’s Penticton/Kamloops team cruises to final with perfect record.

Maglio Building Centre sold to RONA

The stores in Nelson and Trail will remain open

Firefighters extinguish early-morning blaze in Rossland

Neighbour alerted family of four, no injuries reported

Nominations open for Trail-Warfield Citizen of the Year

Award presented annually for a person or group with an outstanding record of community service

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Sledder dies near Fernie

Fernie Search and Rescue was tasked by the RCMP to respond to a sledder in medical distress

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message on Vancouver Island

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

No treatment for highly infectious measles, says doctor

10 cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver as of Friday

Two more measles cases confirmed in Vancouver

It brings the number of total cases within the city connected to the outbreak to ten

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Most Read