A long road trip might just be what the Trail Smoke Eaters need right now to get back on a winning track.
The Smoke Eaters play possibly the toughest game of their three game road trip against the league-leading Powell River Kings tonight, before stops in Port Alberni to play the Bulldogs Saturday and Nanaimo for a match with the Clippers Sunday.
However, it could be good timing for the Smokies, as the Kings will likely be without six of its top players including goaltender Jonah Imoo, defencemen Jordan Burns, Jeremy LeClerc and Luke Ripley, and forwards Kurt Keats and Jared Lukoswevicius, who were all invited to the Canada West World Junior A Challenge training camp that starts Saturday and goes until Wednesday in Calgary.
The Kings are tough regardless, and to win the Smoke Eaters need to be at their best defensively, and avoid any breakdowns that have cost them all too often this season. In their last meeting at the Cominco Arena, Trail played one of its best games, but the Kings came away with a 3-2 decision.
Alberni Valley is in last place in the Island division and has just two wins this season, but the Bulldogs played Trail to a 3-3 draw in their first meeting at the Cominco Arena Oct. 4, the last time the Smokies registered a point.
Trail then plays Nanaimo on Sunday in what is the first matchup between the Clippers and Smoke Eaters this season. The Clippers have been nothing short of unpredictable, shutting out the potent Vernon Vipers 3-0 Saturday, then losing 5-4 to lowly Alberni on Wednesday.
Nanaimo currently sits in fourth spot in the Island division with a record of 7-7-0-1, and will be without leading scorer Brendan Taylor who will also attend the Canada West training camp.
On any given day in the BCHL, any team can win, hopefully the Smoke Eaters can travel down that road for a few points this weekend.