The Cranbrook Bucks return from the holiday break with three big games awaiting them this weekend. Of course, every game at this point of the season is a big game, and they will keep getting bigger.
This weekend, Cranbrook will play back-to-back games against the Trail Smoke Eaters on Friday and Saturday, and then wrap things up against the Centennials on Sunday in Merritt.
After beating their Kootenay rivals in the final two games before the holiday break, Cranbrook will look to open its post-Christmas schedule in a similar fashion.
The Bucks will put a three-game winning streak on the line when they welcome the Smoke Eaters to Western Financial Place on New Year’s Eve, while Trail will try to snap a three-game losing skid. They have split the first four contests in the Key City this season.
It will be the seventh meeting of the campaign between the two Kootenay rivals, who have split the first six contests overall. Cranbrook holds a one point advantage in the season series following an overtime loss to Trail on Nov. 20.
The Bucks are 6-4-1 on home ice this season, while the Smoke Eaters are 4-5-1 on the road.
The two teams will then square-off in Trail on New Year’s Day to wrap up four consecutive contests between the clubs. They have also split the two previous matchups played in the West Kootenay so far this season.
The Smoke Eaters are 8-5-0 at Cominco Arena in Trail this year, while the Bucks are 7-6-0 away from home.
It will be the eighth of nine meetings for Cranbrook and Trail on the season, with the final matchup scheduled for Feb. 9 in Cranbrook.
The Bucks will then travel from Trail to Merritt for a Sunday afternoon game to conclude the weekend.
It will be Cranbrook’s first-ever game at Nicola Valley Memorial Arena in Merritt, and just the second meeting between the two Interior Conference clubs. The Bucks beat Merritt 8-0 at home back on Nov. 3.
It’s an important weekend for Cranbrook, who will certainly want to pick up points against both its arch rivals from Trail, and from the last-place Centennials.