Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Merritt vs Trail Game Preview (Game 5):

Much like the Merritt Centennials, there was some success for the Trail Smoke Eaters at the BCHL Bauer Showcase to open up this new season. Along with the Centennials, the Smoke Eaters dropped a close game to the Langley Rivermen(in OT), while picking up a pair of points in a big victory over another Coastal Division opponent.

Consider in the two extra games now in the books for both of the clubs, and that's where the results vary. Merritt fell short in back-to-back games (3-2, 4-3) with the West Kelowna Warriors over the weekend, while the Smokies struggled on home ice against the Penticton Vees, falling 5-1 in their home opener on Friday and 7-0 the night after.

The two clubs meet at Cominco Arena tonight both looking for win number two on the BCHL season, with the Merritt Centennials having won the season series last year by taking 5 of 7 games. Trail was stronger at home last season, where they went .500 in their four games with the Cents on home ice.

 Details on tonight's Q101 broadcast can be found below.


The Cents had plenty more success on the man advantage during Saturday's home opener, and that is something they need to continue to carry over from game-to-game if they want to be a league wide threat on the power play. Going 3-for-5 is always nice, but when power play perfection occurs, the even strength game needs to step up.

To continue on the special teams topic, Head Coach Luke Pierce said in the post-game show Saturday that the important role players need to stay out of the penalty box, despite his club showing great discipline for the majority of the game.

In goal, I won't make any predictions for tonight's game but the situation is sound for the Centennials, with Devin Kero and Russell Sanderson both seemingly ready for battle. Sanderson is fresh off a start against the Warriors on Saturday while Kero was sharp on Friday in West Kelowna.


Former Merritt Centennial Brendan Lamont has been a contributing factor for the Smoke Eaters, as the 19 year old has knotted two goals so far this season. After playing in nearly 120 games as a Cent, Lamont was dealt to Trail this off-season for Shane Poulsen, who scored on Saturday for Merritt.

Listen for names like Lamont, Bryce Knapp and Jake Kauppila. With help from those players offensively the Smoke Eaters could be tough to handle, while guys like Braden Pears and Valik Chichkin man the back end for the orange, white 'n black.

With ten 1994's in the lineup, along with five 1993's; the Smoke Eaters are an older team that could see some shake ups before the January 10th deadline in order to better prepare for next season. Take that with a grain of salt though, because if the Smokies look to be making a run for a Fred Page Cup, they may rather decide to load up. In comparison, the Cents have seven 1994 born players(who will play their final seasons of Junior in 14/15), while two of those seven are goaltenders.

Speaking of goaltenders, this is the department where Bill Birks and his stuff are hoping for results. Former North Okanagan Knight Dustin Nikkel allowed 7 against Penticton on Saturday, but at the Showcase was great in a 6-2 win over Cowichan Valley. Adam Todd, 19, lost both of his starts, and has an .857 save percentage through 120 minutes played.

The Norgaard Ready Mix Pregame show gets underway at 7:00 PM on Q101, as well Q101.ca and BCHL.ca. We'll continue our breakdown interview with Jeff Jones during the pregame show, while we also chat with the head coach of both hockey teams. Puck drop is 7:30.

The two teams duke it out once again on Friday night in Merritt, that game too, will start at 7:30.

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