The Trail Smoke Eaters face the Coquitlam Express on Friday as they embark on a three game road trip to the Lower Mainland. Jim Bailey photo.

Trail Smoke Eaters embark on tough Lower Mainland road trip

A depleted Smoke Eaters team will be tested this weekend against Coquitlam, Langley and Chilliwack

The Trail Smoke Eaters will look for their 20th win of the season this weekend when they hit the road for a three-game swing through the Lower Mainland.

The Smokies will have their toughest test of the season on Friday night when the take on the BCHL leading Coquitlam Express. The Express boast a 26-5-0-0 record and are perfect at home, going 17 games without a loss.

To make it even more of a challenge, the Smoke Eaters will be without top forwards Philippe Lapointe, Kent Johnson, and Owen Ozar and defenceman Powell Connor, who are at the World Jr. A Challenge (WJAC) with Team Canada West.

The Express will also be without forward Massimo Rizzo, who was also selected to Team West.

“They’re riding a 17 game home streak right now, so you’re almost playing with house money the first night,” said Smoke Eaters head coach and GM Jeff Tambellini. “We’ve lost all our top players, but we’re a very motivated group and we’d love to be the first team to knock them off in their home rink.”

Despite the gaping holes in their line up, Trail made a Dec. 1 deal for talented forward Carson Briere and former Kelowna Rockets defenceman Kyle Pow, who will provide some relief when they join the team for the games this weekend.

“It’s good timing to have Briere and Pow in the line up,” said Tambellini. “When you lose four superstars out of your line up it’s always a big loss, but it will be a great chance for our depth and some of our 20-year-olds to step up and make an impact.”

The Smoke Eaters are also bolstered by the recent return of d-man Cody Schiavon and rookie forward Walker Erickson. It’s also fortunate for the Smoke Eaters that rookie goalie Logan Terness is back with the team after just missing the cut for Team Canada West.

“We haven’t lost too much on our defence, we still have eight ‘D’ for the weekend,” said Tambellini. “It will be a good test, but again learning how to win without being perfect in your line up is a great thing to learn how to do. We’ve done that all year, and if any group can make the most of this, I believe it’s ours.”

Trail has been good on the road this year, going 11-4-1-1, for the second best road record in the BCHL. They’ll follow their match against the Express with a return tilt against the 14-15-0-1-1 Langley Rivermen on Saturday and the 14-9-4-2 Chilliwack Chiefs on Sunday.

Trail skated to a 4-4 draw with Langley on home ice Nov. 22, and beat the Chiefs 3-1 on Nov. 23. Langley will be without their top forward Brendan Budy, and Chilliwack will miss defenceman Xavier Henry, who join the four Smoke Eaters at the WJAC in Dawson Creek.

Terness was brilliant in a 48-save performance in the 3-1 win against Chilliwack their last meeting, and his play this season has given the Smoke Eaters the stability they were looking for between the pipes.

“If somebody told me that a 16-year-old would be starting for us, and even be at the Canada West camp with the best players in western Canada, we would have all taken that any day,” said Tambellini. “It was a great experience for him. The players that made the team, especially the goaltenders, were all experienced older guys; Logan will have his time, he’s had a great year so far and I’m glad he got recognized.”

Trail faces off against the Express at 7 p.m. Saturday, at 7:15 p.m. in Langley Saturday, and at 2 p.m. in Chilliwack.

Follow the Smoke Eaters on HockeyTV or Mixlr with Smoke Eaters play-by-play announcer Ben Phillips.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

COVID-19: Should non-medical masks be mandatory in Canada?

New poll shows Canadians are divided on the rules around mandatory masks

Rosslanders celebrate Canada Day in style

Locals organized a museum scavenger hunt, a Mt. Roberts flag-raising ceremony and evening fireworks

Hwy 1 flooding causes massive delays on certain Arrow Lakes ferry routes

Motorists have been waiting around three hours to get on ferries

Rossland Museum and Discovery Centre expands operations online

The facility also opened back up to the public earlier in June

Rossland’s Sourdough Alley a ‘muddy collection of shacks’

Rossland’s earliest thoroughfare was once derided as a ‘muddy collection of shacks’

B.C. accommodators need phone lines to light up as in-province travel given green light

Travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic have decimated the tourism and hospitality industries

300 Cache Creek residents on evacuation alert due to flood risk as river rises

Heavy rainfall on Canada Day has river rising steadily, threatening 175 properties

First glimpse of Canada’s true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July

At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Most Read