The Trail Smoke Eaters remain winless in December as they dropped a pair of crucial games to the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on the weekend, putting their playoff hopes in peril.
Trail lost 4-3 to the Silverbacks in Salmon Arm on Friday, and then dropped a 4-1 game on Saturday leaving them 12 points out of the fourth and final playoff spot in the Interior division.
In Saturday’s match at the Cominco Arena in Trail, Josh Blanchard scored what proved to be the winning goal on the power play at 16:00 of the second period when he walked out of the corner and slipped the puck past Trail goalie Brett Clark to give the Backs a 2-0 lead.
After a scoreless first period, Salmon Arm was awarded a penalty shot 3:23 into the middle frame when Connor Wynne hooked Joshua Laframboise on a breakaway. Laframboise skated in, fake then deked, trying to go between the legs of the Smokie goalie, but Clark shut the door to keep the game locked at zeroes. But three minutes later the Silverbacks scored shorthanded when a bad turnover at the blue line sent Colton Thibeau and Brandon Wagner in on a 2-on-0, Thibeau broke down the right side and passed cross crease to Wagner who fired into the open side.
Davidson would get the Smoke Eaters within one, scoring on a powerplay with just over a minute to play in the period. The Trail captain notched his eighth goal of the season on a Harlan Orr centring pass from behind the net.
Trail had their chances in the third period but couldn’t draw even, and Carson Bolduc and Blanchard scored late goals for Salmon Arm to ice it and win their 13th game of the season. Trail outshot the Backs 13-9 in the period and 35-24 in the game, but goaltender Zach Dyment repelled the Smokies attack earning first star in the match.
Bolduc was named the game’s second star and Davidson the third star for Trail.
In Friday’s match, the Smoke Eaters were chasing the Silverbacks all night but could not find the equalizer late in the game, falling 4-3 in Salmon Arm.
The Backs took a 3-1 lead in the second period on goals from Blanchard, Andrew Farny, and Ross Heidt, while Ryan Swanson replied for Trail. Cooper Leitch would get the Smokies within one late in the second, but a Taro Hirose goal 4:37 into the third restored the two-goal lead.
Harlan Orr would again draw the Smokies within one at 14:54, finishing a setup from Basilico, but Backs goalie Angus Redmond shut the door in the last five minutes to secure the win.
Salmon Arm outshot the Smokies 41-36 and went 1-for-2 on the power play while Trail was 2-for-3. Hirose and Blancard were named the games first and second stars while Swanson picked up third-star honours for Trail.
The Smoke Eaters next home game goes Dec. 28 versus West Kelowna.