It's the first of three final home games when the Trail Smoke Eaters host the Vernon Vipers tonight. The Smokies haven't had much luck at Cominco Arena this season only earning four wins in 25 appearances in the Silver City. However, before the 2013/2014 campaign wraps up, Head Coach Nick Deschenes wants to see another victory in their own barn.
"Now it's going to take from us an effort from everybody and it's going to take an execution of our game plan to the finest detail"
They'll look to do it against a team they have beat on Cominco Ice this season. Trail topped Vernon 4-1 on January 3rd in the old orange building. Arguably one of the best efforts from the Smokies this season. A lot has changed since even then though as Deschenes continued to mold this team into something he saw would grow in 2014/2015. And they are using the six remaining games between now and March 1st in West Kelowna, to work toward what Deschenes calls "a perfectly executed game plan.".
"These are our playoffs because we don't have the opportunity to continue onward, so we're bringing the intensity that I think we need to bring to get that experience. Running a short bench [allows] guys [to] get even more involved and replicates that experience even more."
But as for how his team will replicate the same result from 26 days ago...
"They're a big team. They're not as fast as Penticton so in our rink that's probably to our advantage. [Vernon] plays physical, so if we move our feet and make simple, quick plays, we will have an opportunity [to win]."
Trail is coming off a 6-5 double overtime loss to the Chilliwack Chiefs, an absolute slug-out with the BCHL's second last team (Trail's last) that could have ended either way. In fact, at no point in the game did either side have more than a one goal lead. Trail scored a pair in the 3rd to take a 5-4 lead but Chilliwack would even it out with just under four minutes remaining on the clock. A much different outcome than the December 21st whooping that saw the score clock in Chilliwack's Propera Centre read 13-5 but really just an inch away from snapping an eight losing streak and instead extending it to nine.
"Last game I thought a few of our players had one of their better games, effort wise and compete wise. I know long term that's one of the most important ingredients."
Unfortunately, the Smokies are limping the finish line due to injuries. Captain Adam Wheeldon and fellow forward Dylan Mascarin are out for the remainder of the season due to upper body injuries. Forward Jackson Elynuik and goaltender Adam Todd have missed the past number of games due to injury and one would assume they aren't going to force a return to action. Defenseman-sometimes forward Riley Ostoforoff is likely to be back in the lineup after missing Friday's game.
Puck drop for Wednesday's Game is 7:30PM. Live broadcast starts at 7:20PM. You can watch live at www.fasthockey.com or listen for free at www.mixlr.com/smokeeaters.