The Trail Smoke Eaters ended a nine game losing streak in decisive fashion with a 7-3 victory over the West Kelowna Warriors on Sunday at the Cominco Arena.
After a slow start, the Smokies came out energized in the second period scoring four times to take an important two points from their Interior division rival.
“As the game went on I thought our team got stronger,” said Trail coach and GM Nick Deschenes. “It was a close game and then we were able to open it up in the second half of the game and there were flashes of that 10-goal game against Surrey and what our group can do when we execute and work hard.”
Smoke Eater captain Scott Davidson led the way scoring twice, including the winning goal, and adding an assist in Trail’s first win in December.
Davidson put the Smokies up for good after a Warrior defenceman tried to clear the zone by sending the puck off the glass. The puck took a lucky bounce hitting the stanchion and bouncing to Harlan Orr who delivered it to Davidson in front and the Quinnipiac commit wired a shot by Warrior goalie Michael Lenko to give the Smokies a 4-2 lead with 1:39 remaining in the middle frame.
“When you are in a slump, you need big players to come up big,” said Deschenes.
West Kelowna took the lead at 17:31 of the first period when Kyle Marino beat Smokies goalie Brett Clark for the only goal of the first period as the Warriors outshot the Smokies 10-6.
Recent Arizona State commit Charlie Zuccarini would tie it 1:17 into the middle frame lifting a back hand top shelf on a pretty pass from similarly recent Michigan Tech commit Jake Lucchini.
Forty-five seconds later Connor Browne-Maloski batted in a bouncing puck to make it 2-1, but the Warriors Kylar Hope deflected a perfect slap pass from Liam Blackburn by the helpless Clark to even it a minute later.
Davidson would restore the lead with a power-play goal on a set up from Kienan Scott and Bryan Basilico at 14:56 to give the Smokies a 3-2 edge before potting his 10th of the season with 99 seconds to play in the middle frame.
The Warriors would make it 4-3 on a power play 35 seconds into the third but Max Newton would restore the two-goal cushion finishing a pass from AP Spencer McLean, and Zuccarini teamed up with Lucchini to beat Lenko with another great move to the backhand for a 6-3 lead.
Orr capped off the scoring on a shorthanded goal driving to the net and knocking in his own rebound while falling to the ice.
The Warriors outshot the Smokies 33-28 and went 1-for-4 on the power play, while Trail was 2-for-5.
The Smokies played solid defensively and, perhaps more important, received production from all four lines, which they’ll need to make up ground in the tight Interior division.
“I thought we played a really good team game, we were outshot but I don’t think we gave them much, we still played a pretty tight defensive game,” said Deschenes.
“We’re still in good shape, we have to win a lot of hockey games to get back in the pack but a lot of those games are against the teams we’re chasing so it can turn pretty quick.”