Trail Smoke Eater forward Ross Armour puts this attempt past the West Kelowna goalie to bring the Smokies to within one, but the home team came up short in a 4-3 loss to West Kelowna Warriors on Friday at the Cominco Arena. Jim Bailey photo.

Trail Smoke Eaters comeback falls short in home-opener against Warriors

Trail Smoke Eater drop 4-3 match to the West Kelowna Warriors to open 2017-18 season.

Trail Smoke Eaters fans came out in droves for the home opener at the Cominco Arena on Friday, as over 2,000 cheered on the Smoke Eaters to kick off the BCHL’s 56th campaign against the West Kelowna Warriors.

The Trail faithful were treated to an inspiring opening video to start the night, a highlight-reel homage to the great Smoke Eaters tradition and the passing of the torch to the 2017-18 Smokies.

However, one bad bounce came back to haunt a nervous Trail team that fell behind early, and could not recover as the Warriors skated to a 4-3 victory.

West Kelowna’s Matt Kowalski scored the winning goal, while completing the natural hat trick to lead the Warriors to victory. The Warriors forward skated into the Trail zone and wired a short-side shot past Smokies goaltender Brandon Wells to give West Kelowna a 4-2 lead with 7:33 to play in the middle frame.

The Warriors win made it the second year in a row they beat Trail in the season opener, but Trail will try to duplicate last year’s win in the second half of the home-and-home in Kelowna tonight.

West Kelowna opened the scoring on the power play. Brandon Wells made a pad save on Wyatt Head, but Parm Dhaliwal banged in the rebound six minutes in to go up 1-0.

Both teams struggled to find any momentum, and Trail’s best chance came when Blaine Caton drove to the net, made a quick move in front only to lose the puck on the backhand.

Then with 2:32 remaining and another Warrior power play, Wells’ attempt to clear the puck bounced off Kowalski and into the net for a 2-0 West K lead as Trail outshot the Warriors 9-8 in the period.

The game opened up in the second stanza, with the Warriors extending their lead to 3-0 when Kowalski broke down the left wing on a 2-on-1, kept and fired a wrister over the blocker of the Trail goalie at 16:54.

Trail got on the the board a minute later on the power play, when Caton deflected a point shot from Jeremy Lucchini past West Kelowna goalie Nik Amundrud to make it 3-1.

The Smoke Eaters drew within one, when Red Deer native Levi Glasman took a pass from Ross Armour stepped over the blue line and fired his first goal as a Smoke Eater top shelf with 11:41 to play in the middle frame.

Each team traded chances but Trail got into penalty trouble and Kowalski’s hat-trick goal proved the difference. Trail outshot West K 12-11 in the period.

A collision at the Warriors blue line midway through the third period saw Nathan Reilly go down hard. Paramedics were called, and the Warriors defenceman was taken off on a stretcher, with an undisclosed injury.

When play resumed, the action ramped up as Trail’s Olson Werenka went toe-to-toe with six-foot-four Warrior defenceman Tyler Jutting. The tilt seemed to spark the Smoke Eaters, and Armour jumped on a Kale Howarth rebound and beat Amindrud to cut the lead to 4-3 with 8:33 to play.

The Smokies had several quality chances in the final minutes, with Howarth just missing from the slot, followed by a Spencer McLean slap shot rolling over the goalie’s shoulder and just wide, and a glorious chance for Armour who had the goalie down-and-out but could not find the twine.

With seven seconds remaining, the face off in the Warriors end, and Wells pulled for an extra attacker, Trail won the draw and threw everything they had at the Warriors goal but could not get the equalizer.

Trail outshot West Kelowna 30-28, going 2-for-4 on the power play, the Warriors were 2-for-6. Kowalski wrapped up first-star considerations with the hat trick, Trail’s Armour received the second-star nod, and Lucchini, third star, with a pair of assists.

Trail visits West Kelowna tonight with the puck drop at 7:30 p.m.

Just Posted

Waneta or Juanita? Nobody knows

Place Names: Was Waneta named after a prostitute? A mine? A Dakota chief? A lake in New York?

ATCO Wood Products up for BC Exporter of the Year award

The BC Export Awards are slated for Nov. 24 in Vancouver

Trail raises Métis flag

Louis Riel Day marked in Trail with flag raising and Kootenay South Metis banquet on Saturday

Brewery works claim more job losses

Interior Brewery Workers Local 308 says that Labatt Breweries of Canada is manipulating data to justify the loss of jobs at Creston’s 50-year-old brewery.

RDCK calls for reversal of Sinixt extinction

The board opposed a land transfer to the Westbank First Nation this week

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

Coquihalla closed both directions near Merritt

Detours are available via Hwy. 8 and Hwy. 1

VIDEO: The Last Jedi is going to be the longest ‘Star Wars’ movie yet

Newest movie in the franchise will beat Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week.

PHOTOS: Procession and funeral for Const. John Davidson

Thousands attended celebration of life for Abbotsford police officer

B.C. Liberal leadership candidates debate different paths for party

Third debate held Sunday, Nov. 19 at Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Conference Centre

LIVE: BC Liberals kick off leadership debate in Nanaimo

Candidates’ forum is at noon at Vancouver Island Conference Centre

WATCH: Thousands gathering in Abbotsford for Const. John Davidson funeral procession

Celebration of life to follow at Abbotsford Centre at 1 p.m.

Start on time: Canucks looking to shake first-period struggles

Canucks centre Bo Horvat said the formula for getting a leg up is there for everyone to see

Most Read