Contributed by Jesse Adamson for BCHL Communications
Tonight – Surrey Eagles (24-16-4-2) vs. Trail Smoke Eaters (26-14-4-1)
7 p.m. at Cominco Arena in Trail
Presented by the BCIHL
The two teams have split the season series so far this season. They first met on Sept. 24 at the BCHL Showcase where Trail won decisively by a score of 7-2. Kale Howarth scored a hat trick for the Smoke Eaters and teammate Levi Glasman chipped in with three assists to power their team to the win.
The teams met most recently in Surrey on Jan. 7. Eagles defenceman Perry Winfree scored the winner just over two minutes into overtime and Surrey won the game 5-4. Eagles forward Jeffrey Stewart scored two goals, while Cody Schiavon, Owen Norton and Ryan Brushett added two assists each in the win.
Trail’s Carter Jones comes into tonight with points in his last six games. He’s tallied four goals and seven assists for 11 points over that stretch. Smoke Eaters forward Ross Armour is sixth in BCHL scoring with 54 points (18-36-54) in 39 games. Trail also has two other players in the top-20 in scoring – Kale Howarth is eighth in the league with 51 points (22-29-51) and Levi Glasman is 18th with 43 points (18-25-43). Jeremy Lucchini is tied for fifth in the league in points by defencemen with 34 (4-30-34).
Surrey’s Ty Westgard has the second-most points in the league with 57. His 45 assists are the most in the BCHL. His teammate John Wesley leads the league in goals with 32 and is tied for fourth in points with 55. Owen Norton leads all Eagles blueliners with 26 points (3-23-26), which ties him for 16th most in the BCHL. Surrey goaltender Mario Cavaliere has shutouts in three of his first four BCHL starts, with a record of 3-1, a goals-against average of 2.04 and a save percentage of .946.
What’s at Stake
Surrey is in a tight playoff race at the top of the Mainland Division. They are currently tied with the Prince George Spruce Kings for first place with 54 points. They are two up on the third-place Langley Rivermen and seven ahead of the fourth-place Chilliwack Chiefs. The Eagles have won six of their last nine contests coming into tonight.
Trail is also in a tight playoff race at the top of the Interior Division. They sit in fourth place with 57 points and are five points behind the third-place Wenatchee Wild and six points behind the Vernon Vipers and Penticton Vees who are tied for first place. The Smoke Eaters come into tonight with one win in their last five games.
Trail Smoke Eaters head coach Cam Keith on facing Surrey tonight:
“They have a lot of offense. They have two kids that are in the top-ten in scoring right now that you always have to be aware of when they’re on the ice. [They’re a] well-balanced team. They made some really big additions at the deadline that make them a well-rounded team. They can score in transition and they can also play that powerful down-low game. They’re a team that’s probably under-rated as far as where their record is at. They beat us last time when we played them in Surrey, so we have a lot of respect for them.
“We need to start scoring more goals. We’ve struggled offensively of late. We’ve had really good goaltending and kept games tight, but we have to find ways [to get] secondary scoring from our second, third and fourth line…This is a parent weekend for us, so we’re hoping that the kids having families in will give them a little bit more motivation.”
Keith on his team’s recent goal-scoring drought:
“I think [it’s caused by] the transition of how hockey is at this time of year, where teams are more dialed in defensively and they start to see the playoff races come into picture. It’s a different way of scoring, you have to produce goals more from putting pucks on net and scoring the non-pretty ones. We’re a team that, we try to generate down low, but we haven’t been scoring those greasy goals.”
Keith on his team’s tight playoff race at the top of the Interior Division:
“It’s a challenge, especially with how good our division is this year. You never can really go into a game thinking that…if we play well we should win. There’s a lot of games this year that we’ve played against the Vernons and Pentictons where you play a really good game but you don’t get the points. When you lose those games, those are the four-point ones where you know they’re going to come into play at this time of year…It makes the rivalries in our division a lot more intense.”
Surrey head coach Brandon West on facing Trail tonight:
“They’re a high-powered offensive team. They play well in their own end as well. They’re going to be a big test for our group and we’re definitely excited to get on the road and get this one started.
“I think we have to play a smart hockey game. You have to be aware everywhere on the ice with the lively boards and the square corners. Pucks bounce around in that rink quite quickly and you have to be on your toes and you’ve got to play the game the right way, be smart and play good defense.”
West on the tight playoff race at the top of the Mainland Division:
“We don’t focus on [the standings] right now. We just focus on getting our game better. We’re a little short-staffed right now, we’re pretty banged up, so we’re focusing on the guys that are in the lineup. We’re making sure that we’re continuing our good habits and create some new good habits and make sure that we take care of our own game and not worry about what’s going on in the standings or the other scores in the league.”
West on his team’s high-scoring offense this year:
“We’ve played much better in our own end since the first month of the season. We’ve been generating offense from a good defensive zone. I know that sounds cliche, but we’re getting everybody contributing right now. It’s not always about scoring goals, but we’re finding ways to create offense and I think that’s been a strength of our group.”
ABOUT THE BCIHL
The British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League was created with the purpose of offering a venue for competitive, high-calibre hockey that’s close to home for players beyond their junior careers. The league was launched in 2006 and now includes six member teams: Eastern Washington University, Selkirk College, Simon Fraser University, Trinity Western University, the University of Victoria and Vancouver Island University. This season, 25 graduates with over 2750 games of BCHL experience are pursuing their academic and athletic goals in the BCIHL. To learn more about the BCIHL and playing opportunities for BCHL grads, visit BCIHL.ca.