Sports ‘n’ Things with Dave Thompson

Smoke Eaters struggles continue heading into tough stretch

Thompson: ” … home games closing out the pre-holiday schedule will showcase some real talent.”

Not a particularly fun night at the arena Wednesday. The Smoke Eaters slightly outplayed the Vernon Vipers, in a game from which they really needed a regulation victory and the two standings points, but had extreme difficulty scoring and were outclassed in overtime.

Vernon scored twice on its first three shot attempts, one an extremely bad goal from the corner behind the Trail goal line, and the Smokies inability to convert puck control into scores kicked their chances, again.

Do not let the official shot count mislead you into thinking the play was even. I stopped counting after six direct attempts, with saves by the Viper keeper involved, failed to register in the stats. Trail was, slightly, dominant for most of the game, but unable to create many good opportunities for goals. Vernon does check well.

The overtime was a lost cause. Vernon threw their most talented players out, because three-on-three kinda requires that. Trail did not respond in kind. While the personnel involved are solid players, speedier and more skillfull Smokies remained on the bench.

Trail had one brief spot of control, gave the puck away, and never possessed it again. The Vipers made short work of the open ice overtime supplies.

As much as Trail has improved defensively, particularly in their own end of the ice, they have regressed in the opponents zone. Even when a forecheck turns the puck over to them, there is seldom a Smokie available to use a scoring chance.

Trail forwards do not focus, except for the odd power play setup, on gaining and/or keeping, access to the prime scoring area in the short and medium slot. Opposing defencemen sometimes look confused at not having to defend that crucial area, and that is never a good sign.

Yes, there has been turnovers and injuries, but, by now, not having even one set line, or having developed a power play point setup with two capable defencemen (having your top scorer anchored out at the blueline just seems a waste), are real failings.

It is still a bargain entertainment, and home games closing out the pre-holiday schedule will showcase some real talent. The top three teams in the toughest division in junior A hockey are all on the docket coming up, with doubleheaders for two of those clubs.

It won’t be an easy run-in, by any stretch, for Trail, which will not be favoured to get even a point from now till Christmas. Any points they do achieve will be good bonuses in the standings. In the meantime, there is lots of activity in the rink during games, charitable opportunities for those inspired by the season, access to those coveted iconic clothing and souvenir items, and the draws.

Not, so far, a year of dynamic memory making, but still a worthwhile endeavour – getting out to the games.

• The last pre-holiday home game for the Nitehawks, who seem to have righted the ship (we knew they would) is Saturday night.

Just Posted

Finals set for Trail Youth Baseball

Youth Baseball finals: Jr. Trail Red Sox vs Trail Blue Jays and the U13 Trail Red Sox vs Castlegar

Demolition day in downtown Trail

Teardown begins on Cedar Ave. building

Governments announce $53M to buy Grand Forks properties, fix river banks destroyed in flooding

The Boundary Flood Recovery team applied for the grant last January

Council awards contract to upgrade Trail jail cells

The city received notification from the RCMP detailing modifications in 2009

Bay and family celebrate induction into Hall of Fame

Trail native Jason Bay was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame on June 15.

VIDEO: Driver doing laps in busy Vancouver intersections nets charges

Toyota Camry spotted doing laps in intersection, driving towards pedestrians

Surrey B.C. mayor says the RCMP has announced it will unionize

A spokeswoman for RCMP headquarters in Ottawa says it’s not yet a done deal

Explicit sex-ed guide for adults mistakenly given to Creston elementary students

The booklet clearly states online and inside that the guide contains sexually explicit information

Driver has $240K McLaren impounded minutes after buying it in West Vancouver

Officers clocked the car travelling at 160 km/h along Highway 1 in a 90 km/h zone

Fundraiser for Sparwood cancer patient raises over $80k

“Friday was something I won’t ever forget,” said Sparwood’s Barry Marchi.

Former Vernon Judo coach pleads guilty to child pornography charges

Bryan Jeffrey McLachlan is set to return to court Sept. 4 for sentencing

B.C. Olympic skier sues Alpine Canada after coach’s sex offences

Bertrand Charest was convicted in 2017 on 37 charges

Case of missing Kootenay teen still unsolved 50 years later

Phillip Porter, age 16, disappeared near his home in Kimberley on June 26, 1969

Former Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo to retire

‘Bobby Lou’ calls it a career after 19 NHL seasons

Most Read