Junior Hockey – Smokies flounder

The Smoke Eaters blew a pair of leads as they dropped their final two games of a three game road swing to the Lower Mainland on the weekend.

After beating one of the top teams in the Coastal Division, the Smoke Eaters blew a pair of leads as they dropped their final two games of a three game road swing to the Lower Mainland on the weekend.

Trail beat the Surrey Eagles 5-4 in overtime Friday before dropping a 4-3 decision to Chilliwack Saturday and a 5-4 game to seventh place Langley on Sunday.

In Sunday’s match, the Smokies jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the second but Langley scored four straight to go up 5-3. Montrose’s Luke Bertolucci narrowed the margin with a late goal on a scramble in front of the net. It was the 16-year-old forward’s first goal in 19 games for the Smokies, he also added an assist in the match.

The loss comes after the Smokies surrendered a 3-0 lead Saturday against Chilliwack, as the Chiefs scored four unanswered, including a second-period penalty shot by David Bondra, to win 4-3.

Despite the losses, the Smokies deserved better, especially after a come-from-behind victory against the Eagles on Friday. Trail won their second road OT thriller in a row, fighting back from a 3-1 deficit to tie the game at the end of the second. After the teams exchanged goals in the third, Brandon Long iced it with less than a minute to go in the first over-time period.

By far the biggest bright spot is the line of Erik Cooper, Connor Tiechko, and Garrett McMullen who continue to burn for the Smokies. The trio accounted for 19 points in three games, with Cooper netting four goals and two assists, and Tiechko and McMullen with two goals and four assists each.

Cooper kept up the intensity that garnered him BCHL Player of the Week honours last week, with second-star performances against Surrey and Langley.

Trail plays six of seven games at home starting in Februrary with their first game going Thursday at 7:30 p.m. when they host the Alberni Bulldogs.