Trail Smoke Eater goalie Bailey Macburnie thwarts a West Kelowna Warrior attack on Saturday as Trail skated to a 9-7 win in exhibition BCHL action at the Cominco Arena.

Trail Smoke Eater offence erupts on Warriors

The Trail Smoke Eaters split their opening exhibition series against the West Kelowna Warriors.

The Trail Smoke Eaters split their opening exhibition series against the West Kelowna Warriors in contrasting fashion, bouncing back from a 3-2 overtime loss in a defensive battle Friday, to skate to a 9-7 victory on Saturday.

“It was a good measuring stick, I mean it was pretty much their team against our team the second game,” said Smoke Eater coach and GM Nick Deschenes. “I’m obviously excited about how they played in the first period and the offence that they created, but not overly thrilled with how we finished off the game having a 9-2 lead.”

Kale Howarth’s first goal as a Smoke Eater would hold up as the winner, giving the Smokies an 8-2 lead on the Warriors in the second period, en route to the 9-7 win.

Howarth redirected a pretty pass from Kienan Scott over the blocker of Warriors goalie Daniel Mannella on a power play mid-way through the second-period. The Red Deer product is a big, skilled forward and was a stand out at the Smoke Eater camp.

“He’s definitely taken advantage of the opportunity, and that’s a pleasant surprise,” said Deschenes.

Trail dominated in the early going, scoring three times in the first three minutes and seven seconds to take a surprising 3-0 lead.

Cooper Leitch opened the scoring, finishing a nice pass from behind the net from Connor Brown-Maloski and he would return the favour less than a minute later on a perfect cross-crease pass to CBM. Evan McEachern’s point shot then beat the Warriors goalie high blocker side on  a delayed penalty, before the Warriors Jonathon Desbiens, a Bentley University commit, would get one back, sniping a shot top corner on Smokie goalie Bailey Macburnie on a power play to make it 3-1.

The Smokies would net three more before the period was out and would lead 6-2 heading to the second.

Tempers flared in the middle frame as Trail continued to press, and West Kelowna took a number of undisciplined penalties as the two referees sent a steady procession of players to the sin bin.

Dexter McLeod would keep the ball rolling, as he drifted a screened shot from the point into the top corner, a minute before Howarth’s winner. Harlan Orr would finish the Trail scoring binge on a great individual effort, driving to the front of the net and banging in his own rebound under Manella to make it 9-2.

Yet, West Kelowna would not go quietly, scoring three goals in the final two minutes of the second period to make it 9-5, and would add two more goals with time winding down in the final frame to make it close.

“We talked about it, and that can’t be our MO to let teams back into games, as we saw last year, one goal made the difference often, and if you let up teams are good enough to come back, especially in our division.”

Along with the play of Howarth, Deschenes was impressed with Rossland’s Ross Armour and London, Ont. native Leitch who also displayed his tough side, dropping the gloves with a big Warrior defenceman early in the second period.

“Cooper has been a force here in camp. The goaltender had a tough go, but I think Bailey has shown up in good chunks and that he’s going to be capable of playing well in this league. It’s still early, but the pleasant surprise is Kale, and Cooper Leitch is definitely our most improved player over the off season, and I think our goaltending is going to be a lot more consistent.”

On Friday in West Kelowna, three Warrior power play goals would be the difference in a 3-2 overtime loss.

The Smoke Eaters, with most of their younger skaters in the lineup, would take a 2-1 first-period lead on goals from Montrose native Spencer McLean and Vancouver’s Max Newton.

But West Kelowna’s Reed Gunville would tie it four minutes into the second, and, after a scoreless third period, a point shot by Nick Rutigliano in overtime would find its way through traffic and beat Trail goalie Linden Marshall for the victory.

The penalty kill was a problem on both nights for the Smoke Eaters, but Deschenes isn’t about to panic, with only a limited time preparing for the two games.

“We haven’t practiced special teams yet so (I’m not worried),” said Deschenes. “When forwards that have not been taught a system go out against guys that have been playing a power play together for two years, you’re going to expect some breakdowns.”

While early, the opening games bode well for a Trail team looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

Trail’s next home game goes Saturday against the Selkirk College Saints at 7:30 p.m. at the Cominco Arena.

Just Posted

Pedestrian killed on Highway 22 Saturday evening

Police say 51-year-old man died after being hit by car

UPDATE: DriveBC says highway re-opened after accident

Highway 22 closed for seven hours on Saturday

Forestry workers set to begin job action in Kootenays

Operations in Castlegar, Cranbrook, Galloway, Elko, Radium, Golden may see job action this week.

Métis Flag flies in Trail on Louis Riel Day

Area students, officials and public attend flag raising at Trail City Hall

Early Trail borrowed a couple of names from the U.S.

Place Names: Connection between Trail and Butte, Montana

Saving salmon: B.C. business man believes hatcheries can help bring back the fish

Tony Allard worked with a central coast First Nation to enhance salmon stocks

High-end B.C. house prices dropping, but no relief at lower levels

But experts say home ownership remains out of reach for many for middle- and lower-income families

Worker killed in collision at B.C. coal mine

Vehicle collision occurred at approximately 10:45 a.m. this morning

B.C. asking for tips on ‘dirty money’ in horse racing, real estate, luxury cars

Action follows a Peter German report on money laundering in B.C. casinos

Canadian dead more than a week after plane crash in Guyana: Global Affairs

Global Affairs said it couldn’t provide further details on the identity of the Canadian citizen

Children between 6 and 9 eligible for $1,200 RESP grant from province

BC Ministry of Education is reminding residents to apply before the deadline

Victoria spent $30,000 to remove John A. Macdonald statue

Contentious decision sparked controversy, apology from mayor

Privacy concerns over credit card use for legal online pot purchases

Worries follow privacy breaches at some Canadian cannabis retailers

NEB approves operating pressure increase to repaired Enbridge pipeline

The pipeline burst outside of Prince George on Oct. 9, now operating at 85 per cent

Most Read