The Trail Smoke Eaters split a pair of weekend games against Interior division rivals defeating West Kelowna Warriors 8-7 in overtime on Friday, before succumbing to the BCHL leading Penticton Vees in a deceptively close 5-2 match at the Cominco Arena on Saturday.
After Trail had taken a 2-1 lead 4:40 into the third period, Gabe Bast would tie it and Steen Cooper score the winning goal midway through the period to give the Vees its league best 40th win of the season.
Dallas Calvin put the Smokies on the board first on another pretty setup from Jake Lucchini and Craig Martin at 5:48 of the first period. The game would remain 1-0 through one, as the Vees outshot Trail 12-10, and a lively tilt between the Smokies defenceman Stephen Penner and Dakota Conroy highlighted a physical first period.
The Vees wouldn’t take long to tie it in the second as Demico Hanoun ‘s shot from the top of the circle snuck through the pads of Trail goalie Brett Clark 37 seconds in. Nevertheless, Trail would gain some momentum after Connor Brown-Maloski dropped the gloves with Shayne Gwinner and ended up on top. With two power plays in the last half of the second period, Trail swarmed the Penticton net but couldn’t beat goalie Hunter Miska despite wild scrambles and glorious opportunities on the power play.
But less than five minutes into the third, Leitch would find himself on the finishing end of a pretty passing play from Lucchini and Calvin to give Trail a 2-1 lead. However, Gabe Bast wired a point shot through a crowd and beat Clark high blocker side to tie it at 6:46. Cooper would net the go-ahead goal then pick up the insurance marker when Riley Alfred fed the Minnesota-Mankota commit standing alone in front of Clark at 14:54 of the final period. The Vees would pound the nail into the coffin with 1:05 to play scoring into the empty net.
Penticton outshot the Smoke Eaters 43-33, including 19-9 in the third period. Miska was named the game’s first star, with Trail goalie Clark taking second star honours and Steen Cooper the third star. Trail’s Jordan Passmore was the Fortis Energy Player of the Game.
In a wild match up at Royal LePage Place in Kelowna Friday, Jake Lucchini, Harlan Orr, and Martin scored twice and it was Calvin with the OT winner for the Trail Smoke Eaters in an 8-7 win over the host West Kelowna Warriors. Jason Cotton and Tyler Kunz put the Warriors up in the first but Martin got his pair in reply in the second plus the first each from Orr and Lucchini. There were seven goals in a frantic third period with Jason Cotton’s second forcing OT with just over a minute to play before Calvin won it 39 seconds into the first 4-on-4 extra frame.
Lucchini had a five-point night with 2 goals and three assists, while Martin and Calvin each had four points for the Smoke Eaters. The Warriors outshot Trail 41-32 with Martin awarded first-star honours, the Warriors’ Jason Cotton second star and Calvin third star for the Smokies.
Trail’s next home game goes Wednesday when they host the Vernon Vipers.