Bucks and Smoke Eaters set to renew hostilities this weekend

📸: Tim Matwey

The Cranbrook Bucks and Trail Smoke Eaters have formed quite a rivalry over the last two years, and they are set to begin writing the next chapter with a preseason home-and-home series that kicks off tonight in Trail.

Through Cranbrook’s first two BC Hockey League seasons since joining the circuit in 2020, the cross-Kootenay rivals have played 31 head-to-head matchups — 19 in the regular season, and 12 more in exhibition play.

Trail held the edge in the first year of the rivalry, winning five of nine exhibition games and seven of 10 matchups during the 2020-21 BCHL pod season.

Cranbrook turned the tables last season, going 3-0-0 against the Smoke Eaters in exhibition, and then 6-3-1 during the regular season.

Year three promises to be another spectacle, showcasing some of the best competition in the BCHL’s Interior Conference.

It all starts on Friday when the Bucks visit Trail in the first of back-to-back games, which will wrap up in Cranbrook on Saturday to conclude the preseason for both clubs.

The Bucks and Smoke Eaters will then meet another seven times during the 2022-23 season — one in which both teams hope the road to a BCHL championship will go through the Kootenays.

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