The Trail Smoke Eaters’ torrid scoring pace continued over the weekend rolling to their fifth straight win with a pair of victories over the Chilliwack Chiefs and Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
In front of close to 1,800 fans, the Smoke Eaters subdued the Chiefs 7-3 for their first home victory of the season on Friday, before beating the Silverbacks 6-4 in Salmon Arm, Saturday.
“We had that in the back of our minds, that we were having success on the road, but it’s unacceptable to have two losses at home starting with a team that we have,” said Smoke Eaters coach and GM Cam Keith. “We had that mindset that we were going to dictate things from the get-go at home, and we were fortunate to set the pace from beginning to the end of the game … and it was nice to get that first win of the year in front of a big crowd.”
The Smoke Eaters tallied 20 goals in their past three matches and lead the league in scoring with 37 goals in just eight games this season. The Smokies dynamic trio of Ross Armour, Kale Howarth, and Levi Glasman lead the BCHL in scoring with Armour on top with six goals and 17 points, Howarth in second at 10-6-16, and Glasman in third with 3-10-13.
“It’s a testament to the work that Ross and Howarth put in this summer, getting themselves in shape, and then Levi Glasman is a kid that no one, us included, expected to step in and play the big time minutes that he is,” said Keith.
However, Keith says contributions from the Smokies second and third lines proved key on Saturday. Ryan Moon, Braedon Tuck, Ryan Murphy, and Carter Jones all scored along with Howarth to lead the Smokies to their second straight road win over the ‘Backs.
After Salmon Arm tied it at four, Spokane native Jones netted the winner 53 seconds into the final frame beating Salmon Arm goalie Bo Didur on a nice dish from Moon.
“The home game it was mainly our top guns, but the secondary scoring against Salmon Arm we had the other lines contributing,” said Keith. “As teams get better and understand they have to focus on shutting down Howarth and Armour those other lines are going to need to keep contributing.”
Moon opened the scoring 3:57 into the game on a great individual effort for his second of the season. Six seconds after the Silveracks’ Rhett Kingston was sent off for hooking, Kale Howarth converted a Tuck and Jeremy Lucchini set up for a 2-0 lead at 14:29. Logan Mostat put Salmon Arm on the board netting his third of the season on the power play midway through the period, but Tuck restored the two goal lead on another power-play marker with 3:30 to play in the opening frame.
The Silverbacks Hudson Schandor made it 3-2 on the fourth power-play goal of the period beating Trail goalie Tanner Marshall, as the ‘Backs outshot the Smokies 10-5 in the period.
Salmon Arm found the equalizer at 16:25 of the middle frame on a Trevor Adams tally, but Ryan Murphy finished a pretty passing play with Daine Dubois and Tuck for the 4-3 lead heading into the third.
Salmon Arm struck fast just 42 seconds into the final stanza on Kingston’s fifth goal of the season to tie it at 4-4, but Jones potted the winner just 11 seconds later. Trail captain Troy Ring then notched his second of the season midway through the period and Marshall shut the door the rest of the way with 28 saves on the night. Didur stopped 19 shots, while Trail went 2-for-5 on the power play and Salmon Arm was 2-for-8.
Howarth was named the game’s first star for the second consecutive night, with the ‘Backs’ Schandor earning the second-star nod and Tuck the game’s third star.
On Friday, Howarth scored a hat trick and Ross Armour and linemate Levi Glasman had four-point nights in a physical and entertaining victory over the Chiefs. Tempers flared throughout the match up but the Smokies maintained their composure and killed off all but one of the Chiefs five power plays.
“We have that kind of team that has some bite back, that won’t be pushed around,” said Keith. “We built it like that from last year’s playoff where Vernon kind of did that to us. We knew we had to put in some pieces that would have that grit. But that being said, sometimes it finds us in the penalty box a little more than we’re use to, but we’ve had a very successful penalty kill and, with that, your best penalty killer is your goaltender and our goaltending this year has been phenomenal.”
Howarth opened the scoring 5:32 into the first and Kelowna native Seth Barton made it 2-0 just 2:25 later when he walked over the blue line and wired a snap shot past Chilliwack goalie Mathieu Caron for his first goal as a Smoke Eater. Armour made it a three-goal lead early in the second before Skyler Brind’Amour got the Chiefs on the board near the midway point of the middle frame.
Armour and Howarth then added tallies for the Smokies making it 5-1 heading into the third.
Kaden Pickering scored early in the final frame for Chilliwack, but Howarth completed his hat trick and Spencer McLean added an empty-net goal when the Chiefs went for the extra attacker on a man advantage with 14 minutes left. Ryan Miotto rounded out the scoring for the Chiefs.
Chilliwack outshot Trail 41-33 but Trail goalie Brandon Wells was outstanding in net, earning his third victory, while sporting a 2.36 goals-against average, and a .918 save percentage through five starts. Howarth, Armour, and Levi Glasman were named the game’s first, second and third stars.
Trail embarks on its longest road trip of the season this week, and faces the Powell River Kings on Friday, Alberni Valley on Saturday, and the Chiefs in Chilliwack on Sunday.