Trail Smoke Eaters rookie goalie Tanner Marshall stopped 51 shots and Kale Howarth scored twice as Trail earned three-of-four points on the weekend with a 4-3 road win over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on Saturday.
The Smoke Eaters fell to the Wenatchee Wild in a 3-2 double-overtime thriller at home Friday, but remained undefeated on the road with a bounce-back win the next night in Salmon Arm to go to 2-1-0-1.
“We just came in with the same mentality,” said Howarth. “We believe we’re one of the best teams, and we want to show that every night, and we brought that into Salmon Arm. Our goalie Tanner Marshall played unbelievable and we decided to bye in the last half and we took over and won so it was good.”
Trail forward Andre Ghantous netted the winner with an unassisted power-play goal with 1:21 to play in the second period. The Smokie veteran’s second tally of the season ended a wild five-goal middle frame to give Trail a 4-3 lead that held up the rest of the way.
Trail defenceman Jeremy Lucchini opened the scoring 5:47 into the opening period on the power play, blasting a pass from Howarth by Silverbacks goalie Bo Didur for a 1-0 lead.
However, Josh Latta evened the score at 14:32 with assists going to Rhett Kingston and Justin Wilson. The ‘Backs fired 25 shots at Marshall in the period, but the 17-year-old Kelowna native was stellar in net in his first start as a Smokie, while Trail managed 12 shots on the Salmon Arm goal.
Trail struck first in the second period, with Howarth finishing a pretty passing play with Levi Glasman and Ross Armour at
But just over a minute later the Silverbacks Demetri Kambeitz replied to knot it at two. Kingston then gave the Silverbacks their first lead of the game when he beat Marshall on a Latta set up 61 seconds later.
But Trail refused to fold and Howarth scored his second of the season with Jake Yuris getting his first assist as a Smokie when he dished to Glasman who fed Howarth to tie the game at three.
The Silverbacks outshot the Smokies 18-9 in the second period and 11-7 in the third for a 54-28 edge in shots on goal, but Marshall proved the difference on the night coming up big time and again.
“It helps so much going into a game, that you have either Wellsy (Brandon Wells) or Marshall, who is going to be a top goalie in the league,” added Howarth. “They’re there for you every single night and they’re going to battle and play their heart out, so it’s pretty good going into the game knowing that.”
Trail’s power play went 2-for-6, while Salmon Arm’s was 0-for-5. Marshall earned the game’s first star, with Kingston the second star and Howarth the game’s third star.
As expected, the trio of Howarth, Armour, and Glasman has carried much of the offensive load with 18 points between them in the first four games. Armour is in fifth place overall in BCHL scoring with four goals and seven points, while Howarth is right behind him with six, and Glasman has five points.
“Playing with Ross is pretty special,” said Howarth. “He’s so smart with the puck, you try to find open ice and he’ll hit you. He’s a natural goal scorer, Glasman’s a gold scorer so it’s a pretty deadly line combination.”
On Friday, the Smokies and Wild went toe-to-toe in front of close to 2,000 fans at the Cominco Arena in a thrilling battle that was decided by Wenatchee’s Lucas Sowder 1:34 into the second overtime period.
After another Smokies opportunity was thwarted by Wild goalie Jacob Acton in the 3-on-3 OT , Wenatchee broke out on a 2-on-1 with Sowder carrying the puck over the blue line and wiring a shot high blocker side for the victory.
Trail’s Armour opened the scoring when he directed a cross-crease pass from Glasman into the corner for a 1-0 lead midway through the first. However Wenatchee replied in the second period with goals from Sowder and Chad Sasaki less that two minutes apart for a 2-1 lead.
Armour tied it at two, taking a pass from Ghantous and making a slick move on the goalie 4:43 into the third period. The team’s traded opportunities through the remaining of regulation and the first OT period, but both Wells and Acton were solid in their respective creases to force the final extra frame.
Trail outshot Wenatchee 37-33. With just four minor penalties called in the match, the teams went 0-for-2 on the power play. Armour was the game’s first star, with Sowder and Sasaki earning second and third star considerations.
Next weekend, the Smoke Eaters travel to Chilliwack for the BCHL Showcase where they’ll face the Powell River Kings in the opening match on Saturday at 10 a.m. and the Surrey Eagles at 4 p.m. on Sunday.