The Trail Smoke Eaters got off to a smoking start at the Bauer-BCHL Showcase at Prospera Centre in Chilliwack with a decisive 8-3 win over the Coquitlam Express Saturday and a thrilling 4-3 overtime victory against Powell River Kings on Sunday.
Trail defenceman Victor Dombrovskiy backhanded in the overtime winner at 3:23 of the 4-on-4 frame to give the Smokies the victory. Craig Martin took a pass from Kienan Scott and burst into the zone, splitting the defenceman, however, Kings goalie Stefan Wornig came out to make the save, only to have Dombrovskiy jump on the loose puck for the winner.
The two victories give the Smokies their best start since the Showcase began three years ago, and improved the Interior division’s record over Mainland and Island division teams to 9-0-0-1 in Chilliwack at this year’s event, the only loss a 5-4 OT win by Victoria Grizzlies over the Vernon Vipers on Saturday.
The Kings’ Jared Leucosevicius opened the scoring at 4:53 of the opening frame when he was awarded a penalty shot after being hauled down on a breakaway by Jake Lucchini. The Powell River forward skated in and beat Smokie goalie Adam Todd with a quick snapshot over his glove to take a 1-0 lead.
The Smokies replied at 13:09 of the first when Martin banged in a rebound from a Dombrovskiy point shot to tie it at 1-1. Todd kept the game even when he made a great save off of Leucsevicius who walked in all alone, and tried to deke the Smokie goaltender in the waning seconds of the first period.
The save proved crucial as Harlan Orr would then notch his first goal as a Smoke Eater to give Trail the lead at 4:07 of the second period. The Kings bounced back when Jacob Pritchard netted a shorthanded marker to tie it, but 51 seconds later Dombrovskiy scored on a scramble in front of the Kings net, banging in a Martin rebound to give the Smokies a 3-2 edge.
After playing a tight checking third period, with time winding down Leucosevicius would get the equalizer and second of the night, faking on the forehand and burying a high backhand to beat Todd on a breakaway at 5:45 in the final frame to tie it 3-3 and force overtime.
Todd made several good saves in net stopping 29 of 32 shots, while Wornig made 23 saves for the Kings. The Smokies went 1-for-5 on the powerplay while Powell River was 0-for-5. Dombrovskiy scored twice, including the winner, and added an assist, while Martin had a goal and two assist for the Smoke Eaters.
Special teams were the name of the game on Saturday when the Smokies went 5-for-7 on the power play in an 8-3 drubbing of the Coquitlam Express.
New Smoke Eater Charlie Zuccarini made a great first impression, scoring five goals and adding an assist to open the Showcase. The Connecticut native also netted what proved to be the winner on the power play at 17:35 of the second period, taking a pass from Jake Lucchini and Bryan Basilico and wiring it by Express goalie Braden Krogfoss to make the score 4-2.
The Express would get within one with 12 seconds to play in the middle frame but four unanswered goals by Bryan Gerstenfeld, Craig Martin, and two by Zuccarini, including a shorthanded marker, clinched it for the Smokies.
Lucchini scored once and added two assists on the night for Trail, while Dombrovskiy pitched in with three assists. The six-point night put Zuccarini atop the BCHL scoring race where he now sits tied with Dombrovskiy, who had a pair of three-point games, and Tyson Jost of Penticton who has three goals and as many assists. Trail outshot the Express 45-34 with Todd getting the win in net for the Smokies.
The Smokies home opener goes at the Cominco Arena versus Penticton Vees on Friday at 7:30 p.m. and the Salmon Arm SilverBacks at the same time, same place on Saturday.
See more on the Trail Smoke Eaters in the Tuesday edition of the Trail Times.