(Trail Times file photo)

Unofficially, Trail Smoke Eaters deserved better

Sports ‘n’ Things with Dave Thompson

Exciting game Wednesday. Not quite ruined, but certainly impacted by indifferent officiating.

Never mind that twice linesmen missed offside calls on players who were feet, not inches, offside, and flubbed a few other calls.

It seemed as if the refs had some kind of quota system going. As in, “We have already called two tripping penalties, that’s enough for tonight.”

That attitude mattered on the game winner, when a Trail player carrying the puck out of the Trail end was obviously, blatantly, tripped by Vernon’s best player, who looked around, saw no call, and took control of the puck on the way to making the pass that resulted in the go-ahead, eventual game-winning, goal.

Really not good enough, as that wasn’t the only impeding foul, including other incidents of blatant tripping, that went unpunished.

Then there were the two instance where Vernon players, in danger of being blown by on breakouts, simply covered the puck with both hands and kept it covered until help arrived. Gotta be, (there is) a rule against that. No calls.

All that said, despite the shot count the Vipers seemed slightly the better team Wednesday. They were more focused, more of the time, at both ends of the ice.

Trail could have, likely should have, garnered at least a split in their home pair. Not sure how it will play out.

The teams are equally talented, with Trail having an edge on skill in depth. Vernon is better organized over 200 feet and has the better top line. Intensity levels, completion of opportunities, a little luck and whatever goes through the officials’ heads will make the difference in the best-of-three the series has become.

• The Nitehawks are in tough. Kimberley, one of the remaining, “Big Three,” teams from the regular season, ran its playoff record to 10-0 and its series record so far against the Nitehawks to 2-0 with a close win Wednesday.

Beaver Valley is playing with house money, as it were, because they were not at all expected to get this far, and likely will make games of their next two contests, in the Hawks’ Nest. Long odds on their advancing, but better than no chance at all. We will see how the chips fall.

On the other side of the KIJHL semis round, Revelstoke, too, is 10-0 in the playoffs, after winning both away games in Kelowna, against the other remaining member of the top-dogs group. The games are close on both sides, but it is entirely possible two 12-0 playoff teams will meet in the league championship.

•Not so much in our yard, but the valley is looking like baseball season, which is a very good thing. Local minor ball leagues are registering players as we speak (it can all be done, I believe, linking through the Little League website), tryouts and work parties are scheduled, and the umpire’s clinic comes up in two weeks.

“The Bigs,” have begun already, sort of. By far the earliest beginning for MLB, ever. The Mariners are a full two games in front of the pack, for now. Since nobody but Seattle and Oakland has played a game yet, that should not be taken as an indication of the long term.

Everybody else starts play next Thursday, the surest sign of Spring there ever is. Yay.

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