The Rossland-Trail Bantam Smokies skated their way into the final of their Tier 2 Bantam tournament on Sunday but came up short against a big Westside team.
Despite a good effort, the Smokies were out-sized and out-matched as the Westside Bantam Warriors beat them 7-3 in the final of the four-team tournament at the Cominco Arena on the weekend.
“They are a lot bigger than us and seemed a little more mature,” said Smokies head coach Craig Clare. “They’ve got a good team, they move the puck well and fore-check hard, it’s good for us to know that we’ve got to move the puck a little better out of our own end, we know what we need to work on.”
The Smokies fell behind early, 3-1, but came back in the second period to tie it at 3-3 before the Warriors scored four unanswered goals to close out the game.
The Smokies Nolan DeRosa took a pass from Sam Swanson and swept down the right side, firing a wrist shot passed the Warrior goalie to tie the game with just over three minutes remaining in the second period. However, Westside replied 34 seconds later when Braedon Wiebe notched his first of two goals in the game to make it 4-3 before running away with it in the third.
Westside started the scoring eight minutes into the game and added another less than a minute later, when Sam Dubbledam was sent in all alone beating Smokies goalie Jason Mailhiot on a breakaway.
Trail replied midway through the second, when Ryan Neil crashed the Warriors crease, dislodging the puck, and Chris Colquhoun jumped all over the loose puck.
Westside’s Dubbledam would add another in the second period before DeRosa potted his first of the game, taking a pass from Neil and releasing a quick shot that trickled past Warrior goalie Lucas Vogrinetz.
But after DeRosa tied it, Vogrinetz shut the door. As Trail pressed in the third, the Warriors countered, scoring on consecutive odd-man rushes to ice the Smokies.
In the round robin portion, Trail beat Spokane 9-2 and Okanagan Hockey Academy 5-2 before losing to the Warriors 6-0. Their two- and-one record guaranteed them a spot in the final against the undefeated Westside squad.
While the loss is disappointing, Clare looks to the positive.
“I thought today we played well, the breaks just didn’t go our way. Westside’s got a good team, and we had them, you know we came back and tied it up, we just didn’t get the breaks, but the kids didn’t give up so we’re happy about that . . . We’re going to see these guys again, we want to make sure that they know we’re not going to quit.”
The Bantam tournament also attracted interest from junior A and B scouts including Beaver Valley Nitehawks head coach Terry Jones.
“There’s a lot of good skilled players here,” said Jones. “They’re a good young group. It’s the way the development is, it starts with the young kids and hopefully they grow up and want to be Smokies and Nitehawks, that’s a good thing.”
Rossland-Trail minor hockey will host the Bantam tier 2 provincials from March 18-23.