After winning two big games against Vernon and Salmon Arm on Wednesday and Friday, the team’s offence ran into a wall against West Kelowna on Saturday at the Cominco Arena.
The Smokies put in a complete effort en route to a 4-1 win over the Silverbacks, but unable to solve West Kelowna goalie Steven Myland fell to the Warriors 6-1.
Trail outshot West Kelowna 31-27, but big saves from Myland and early goals by Max French put the Smokies in a 2-0 hole which they couldn’t climb out of.
“Being down 2-0 five minutes into a game is never a great way to start,” said Smoke Eater assistant coach Brent Heaven. “When that happens it’s deflating for the guys and one of our downfalls of late is the slow starts.”
After David Pope scored at 3:10 of the second to make it 3-0, Smokie starter Lyndon Stanwood was pulled in favour of Adam Todd who had a great game against Salmon Arm the previous night.
Marcus Basara made it 4-0 heading into the final frame, and after Ben Tegtmeyer made it 5-0, Trail’s Mitch Foyle would finally beat Myland at 8:45 of the third. Devon Hascarl rounded out the scoring with 41 seconds remaining.
Trail beat West Kelowna 4-3 in overtime in its last meeting on Dec. 14 and still have one game remaining with the Warriors.
“A lot of times I think it’s we beat ourselves not the other team beating us and that’s exactly what happened on Saturday,” said Heaven. “We could have been in that game but we made some costly mistakes and obviously a good team like West Side with the scoring power they have capitalized.”
It was a disappointing result considering the way the Smokies dominated the Silverbacks on Friday. Trail fired 53 shots at the Arm’s towering six-foot-five puck stopper Adam Clark including 23 in the second period when they finally solved the University of New Hampshire commit and took a 3-0 lead.
Fruitvale native Foyle found his touch around the net as the 16 year old doubled his output on the year, scoring a goal and three assists over the three games.
“He had a great week for us,” said Heaven. “He’s working hard, playing the game the way we’ve been talking to him all year. I think the pace for him is starting to slow. Mentally, it was tough early, it’s a lot quicker than playing Major Midget.”
Adam Todd, was also brilliant in the Trail net, blocking 32 shots and taking first-star honours in the victory against the Silverbacks.
“I thought Todd played a great game for us and gave us an opportunity to win,” said Heaven. “He played a solid 60 minutes and that’s what we needed.”
Todd had the shutout going until an Evan Anderson 2-on-1 goal with less than two minutes left spoiled what would have been his first goose egg in the orange and black.
“I thought the team played really well in front of me,” said Todd. “It’s fun when you’re in those battles. It’s a little frustrating (to lose the shutout), but I’m glad we got the win. I mean at the end of the day that’s all that really matters.”
Brent Baltus still remains day-to-day, but the Smokies are healthy on the back end for the first time this season.
“I don’t think everybody for the rest of the year is going to be 100 per cent. It’s that grind time during the season, it’s like playoffs for us and if you don’t have ice bags all over your body, you’re not working hard enough.”
In its final 15 games, Trail plays nine inter-divisional matches including two must-win matches versus Salmon Arm in a home-and-home this weekend, and ending the season with a four-game series with Penticton.
The Smokies next home game is 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.