Goaltender Bailey Macburnie recorded his first shutout as a Trail Smoke Eater on Saturday as the Smokies skated to a 7-0 thumping of the BC Intercollegiate Hockey League champion Selkirk College Saints.
The Smokies dropped the first game to the Saints in Castlegar on Friday, a 4-3 loss in overtime, before bouncing back for the decisive victory in the exhibition home-and-home series.
“The week before we had Kelowna and a similar type spread, but let them back in the game,” said Smoke Eater coach and GM Nick Deschenes. “We kind of dug our heels in here and kept the lead, so pretty happy.”
Seven different scorers tallied for a Smokies team that looked fast and balanced throughout its four lines.
Veteran defenceman Ryan Swanson netted what proved to be the winning goal, taking a pass from Rhett Wilcox and wiring it through a screen past starter Brett Huber midway through the first.
Just over two minutes later, former Beaver Valley Nitehawk, Saints defenceman Danny Vlanich was sent off for tripping, and the Smokies would capitalize when Dexter McLeod dished to Kale Howarth in the slot and the Red Deer native’s quick shot would give the Smokies a 2-0 lead.
Trail held an 11-8 edge in shots in the period and would keep the momentum going into the second.
Former Nitehawks Spencer McLean would take a perfect pass from Ross Armour and wrist a bullet by Huber to put Trail up 3-0 at 15:54.
However, Trail would go down two men after Wilcox and Nick Halloran received minor penalties within 20 seconds of each other. But Trail would kill the 5-on-3 with Macburnie making several stops including a great toe save off Matt Martin alone in front, then stymied Ryan Edwards as he ripped a shot from the right circle.
“We have a lot of talent in our locker room this year,” said Macburnie. “I’m really excited for the season and I think we’ll put a lot of wins up this year . . . I definitely had a few tests out there, and played solid, but all that matters at the end of the day is putting up points.”
Minutes later, Trail would net another power-play goal when Max Newton found Conner Brown-Maloski alone in front and CBM backhanded it over the the glove of Saints netminder Steven Glass, who came on in relief of Huber.
With four minutes left in the middle frame, Trail defenceman Jeremy Lucchini would find a streaking John Laurito, who flew down the right side and snapped a laser over the glove of Glass to make it 5-0 heading to the third.
Selkirk outshot Trail 16-11 in the period, but in the third, a combination of speed and youth would take their toll on the older Saints players, who won’t play their first league match until Oct. 2.
The Saints would get into penalty trouble and the Smokies added two more power-play goals with Kienan Scott finishing off a beautiful passing play with McLean and Howarth at 7:49, and Newton tipping in a point shot from Evan MacEachern with 33 seconds to play in regulation. Trail outshot the Saints 17-7 in the third and 39-31 in the game.
“It’s an early start for us,” said Selkirk College coach Brent Heaven. “We’ve only been on the ice five times before this weekend. We have a month before our regular season starts so we have a lot of work to do and a lot of time to do it. Some of the guys only got on the ice once or twice over the summer. It’s just the way it goes when you’re working all the time now, it’s a little bit different when you’re playing junior.”
The game featured most of what will be Trail’s starting line up, excluding Harlan Orr and Nii Noi Tetteh who were rested for the game, when they face off against Vernon this weekend.
The recent additions of 18-year-old Halloran, an Air Force commit, from Utah, and defenceman Cooper Sande, 18, from Minneapolis, compliments a deep and well-balanced forward lineup built on speed and skill, with capable and mobile defence and strong goaltending.
“Once we get into our season that’s going to be the real test,” said Deschenes. “There are some real bright spots. But now it’s a level playing field. Now we have our 22 guys, we have to figure out how well we can get our 22 to play, and how far we can take the group.”
Trail’s first home game goes Saturday at 7:30 p.m. against the Vipers.