The Alberni Bulldogs halted the Trail Smoke Eaters four-game win streak with a 4-2 victory on Monday in Port Alberni

Alberni Bulldogs end Trail Smoke Eaters win streak

A pro-longed road trip that saw the Trail Smoke Eaters win the first two games before falling to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs Monday.

Two-out-of-three ain’t bad – especially on a pro-longed road trip that saw the Trail Smoke Eaters win the first two games before falling to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs in a rescheduled Monday match.

Smoke Eater players and coaches spent many more hours on the Smokies’ bus than usual for a Vancouver Island road trip. High winds shut down ferries from Powell River to Comox following their Friday night game against the Kings, so the bus journeyed back to Horseshoe Bay in North Vancouver and waited in line at the ferry terminal. Unfortunately, a crossing seemed hopeless, and the team was forced to postpone its Saturday game in Alberni to Monday and spend the night in North Van.

“What a brutal trip,” said Smoke Eater Nick Deschenes. “We basically waited for about four or five hours then decided to just get into a hotel. We did some bowling and hung out, and probably felt better in Cowichan (on Sunday) than we would have normally having played two games.”

The Smokies beat Powell River 4-2 Friday and trounced the Cowichan Valley Capitals 7-3 Sunday, but fell to a tough Alberni Valley Bulldogs team 4-2 on Monday.

“Every time we go into Port Alberni, they must have the game of the year every time we go there,” said Deschenes. “The second period, they were not a last place team, I mean they outshot us 16-2.”

Incredibly, it was the Smoke Eaters that scored the only goal of the period to tie the game at 1-1 heading into the third. Nick Halloran netted his 15th goal of the season on a pretty passing play from Ross Armour and Connor Brown-Maloski, but Alberni would finally solve Smokie goalie Bailey MacBurnie in the third period after outshooting Trail 23-11 through two.

“Bailey MacBurnie was the one reason, but we were close down one goal. I think things kind of unravelled a little bit, had the circumstances been different and it wasn’t our third (game) on that road trip, we might have had a little more pep.”

Dominic Thom opened the scoring at 8:52 of the first period with assists going to former Smoke Eater Rhett Wilcox and Quinn Syrydiuk. Halloran tied it with 7:30 left in the second but a pair of third-period goals from Liam Conrad two minutes apart gave the Bulldogs a 3-1 lead.

“I think because the goals came fairly quickly the previous games, but they were making it pretty hard for us to get in the scoring areas, that kind of frustrated our guys early, and we just couldn’t get any traction.”

Smokies captain Evan MacEachern sailed a shot in from the point that eluded a screened Brody Clayes in the Alberni net to cut the lead to one with eight minutes remaining, but an empty netter from Syrydiuk with 42 seconds left on the clock iced it for the dogs.

“There was a couple things we’d like to have fixed,” said Bulldogs assistant coach Adam Hayduk following the game. “I think two breakaways that we gave up, but other than that the coaching staff will be pretty happy with that effort.”

Wilcox added his second assist of the game in what was his first game with the Bulldogs after coming over in a trade from Cowichan Valley on Sunday.

“I think Rhett’s going to fit in pretty well here, he is a hard working player, pretty smart, and a pretty good debut,” said Hayduk.

The loss ends the Smoke Eaters four game win streak, but Trail will get right back on the ice tonight against the Vernon Vipers at the Cominco Arena. A Smokie win can tie the Vipers for the final playoff spot, coupled with a Vernon loss to Penticton Tuesday night (score unavailable), and Trail will have three games in hand on Vernon.

“We want to be the best team possible at the end of the year and right now we’re trending in the right direction,” said Deschenes. “Collectively and as individuals we keep getting better, and I’d like to think the buy-in is pretty high right now, so we just have to keep working and see what happens.”

The 15-18-0-2 Vipers have two wins and three losses in December, while the Smokies have gone 4-2 to close the gap. Smoke Eaters goalie MacBurnie has been stellar in net, stopping 35 shots on Monday, including several spectacular saves to keep the game close. He will likely be relied on again on Wednesday in neutralizing the snakes.

“They play an aggressive style, but I really think in the last couple games we’ve proven that we really have a lot of fight in this group, and I think it’s going to be a good game,” said Deschenes.

The Smoke Eater players raised and donated $300 to the Salvation Army Food Hamper Drive, which will also be accepting donations of perishable food items at the door tonight. The Smoke Eaters are hoping for a big crowd for the Vipers game and have cut admission to $5 across the board. The puck drop goes at 7:30 p.m.

Just Posted

Trail Smoke Eaters grind out win over Vernon Vipers

Trail Smoke Eaters Kent Johnson scored the game winner in a 3-2 victory over the Vernon Vipers

Trail mayor announces task force to address crime

Coun. Sandy Santori was appointed to the Community Safety Task Force

Do-it-yourself requires sophisticated tools

“I am all for working on your own vehicle if you relish the challenge …” Nutini writes

May they rest in peace

Letter to the Editor from Don Birkenes of Trail

Starbucks baristas in Trail donate $7,000 in tips

Funds will go toward the breakfast program in five Kootenay Columbia elementary schools

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

EU divorce deal in peril after two UK Cabinet ministers quit

Negotiators from Britain and the European Union have struck a proposed divorce deal that will be presented to politicians on both sides for approval, officials in London and Brussels said Tuesday.

Feds respond to sexual assault investigation at B.C. naval base

Report of Oct. 5 sexual assault on Vancouver Island base taken over by Canadian Forces National Investigation Service

Northern California fire death toll at 56; 130 missing

Many of the missing are elderly and from Magalia, a forested town of about 11,000 to the north of Paradise.

Canfor to buy 70 per cent stake in Swedish Vida Group for $580 million

The privately held company has nine sawmills in southern Sweden with an annual production capacity of 1.1 billion board feet.

Saudi prosecutor seeks death penalty in Khashoggi’s killing

Saudi Arabia’s top prosecutor is recommending the death penalty for five suspects charged with ordering and carrying out the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi.

Mixing business and family: Trudeau turns to Singapore ancestors to widen trade

Trudeau’s ancestor, Esther Bernard, born Farquhar (1796-1838) was the daughter of Major-General William Farquhar (1774-1839), the first British Resident and Commandant of Singapore.

Baloney Meter: Will tougher penalties for gang members make Canada safer?

Since 2013, gang-related homicides in Canada’s largest cities have almost doubled

Early data suggests no spike in pot-impaired driving after legalization: police

Some departments said it’s too early to provide data, others said initial numbers suggest stoned driving isn’t on the rise

Most Read