The Trail Smoke Eaters were stymied by the Vernon Vipers on Friday falling 4-0, before suffering a 3-2 overtime loss to the Merritt Centennials on Saturday. Jim Bailey photo.

Merritt Centennials comeback for OT win over Trail Smoke Eaters

Trail Smoke Eaters struggles continue with third straight loss to Interior Division rivals

The mid-season doldrums hit the Trail Smoke Eaters on the weekend, falling to Interior Division rivals Vernon Vipers at home on Friday and the Merritt Centennials on Saturday.

The Smoke Eaters dominated the Centennials in Merritt in what was their 28th match of a 56-game season, but settled for a single point in a 3-2 overtime loss.

Trail led the match for 55 minutes but Cents forward Brendan Schneider scored with 2:22 remaining in regulation to tie it and Merritt’s leading scorer Henry Cleghorn iced it in overtime for the Centennials.

The teams traded chances in the early going of the first 4-on-4 overtime, but three minutes and seven seconds into the first OT, Cleghorn netted his 10th of the season beating Smokies goalie Brandon Wells for the 3-2 Merritt victory.

The loss against the Interior Division’s last place Centennials (10-13-2-1) was the Smokies third consecutive, after falling to the Vipers 4-0 Friday and 2-1 to the Penticton Vees on Wednesday.

The Smokies Andre Ghantous opened the scoring at 3:55 of the first period on a gutsy individual effort and the only goal, as Trail outshot Merritt 14-8 through the first period.

Rossland native Ross Armour put the Smokies up 2-0 on the power play, scoring his 16th of the season on a Jeremy Lucchini set up five minutes into the second period.

Trail’s penalty kill toughed out a five minute fighting penalty to Kyle Cherenkoff and an extra two for instigating. However, before the period was out, Merritt’s Bradley Cocca cut the lead to 2-1 with 1:06 to play in the middle frame, despite Trail outshooting the Cents 10-2 in the period.

Trail’s depleted line up began to show in the third period as the Centennials rallied to tie it, out-chancing the Smokies 14-13, and 4-2 in the extra frame.

In an attempt to shore up a battered line up, Trail iced affiliate players Nolan Krogfoss, 16, from the BCMML Valley West Hawks and Hayden Dick from the KIJHL Kamloops Storm. Trail has been missing key components from their lineup, including injured forwards Levi Glasman, Ryan Murphy, Blaine Caton, and Braeden Tuck, and the league’s leading offence has struggled as a result, scoring just three goals in the past three games.

Trail outshot Merritt 39-28 and went 1-for-2 on the power play, while the Cents were 0-for-6. Merritt’s Cleghorn earned the game’s first star, goalie Austin Roden second star, and Trail’s netminder Wells the third star.

On Friday, the Vernon Vipers played shutdown hockey in a 4-0 victory over the Smoke Eaters at the Cominco Arena in front of 2,231 fans.

The Vipers newly acquired Sam Anzai scored what proved to be the winner when he walked in all alone and slipped the puck between the pads of Smoke Eater goalie Tanner Marshall at 13:51 of the first period. Anzai, an L.A. native, was acquired last week from the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Drayton Valley Thunder.

Michael Young scored a power-play goal at 7:39 of the second period to put Vernon up 2-0, and Brett Stapley and Josh Prokop added insurance markers in the third period for the 4-0 victory.

Trail had their chances but no puck luck as the Smokies hit three posts, missed a wide open net and were generally neutralized by the Vipers defence and goalie Anthony Yamnitsky, the game’s first star.

Vernon outshot Trail 40-28 and, despite the loss, Marshall made several outstanding saves and earned the game’s third star, while Vernon’s Jimmy Lambert had two assists and was the second star.

Vernon also defeated the West Kelowna Warriors on Saturday to launch the 19-6-0-4 Vipers into first place in the Interior Division, two points ahead of the Smoke Eaters.

Trail’s next game goes in Vernon on Friday before returning to the Cominco Arena Saturday for a 7 p.m. tilt against the Centennials.

Just Posted

Kootenay Métis Nation director attends Crown Summit

Marilyn Fayant Taylor was part of the MNBC panel that met in Ottawa

All welcome to Indigenous Peoples Day in Trail

Grapevine: Events in the Trail area for the week of June 20 to June 26

“It’s a Big Deal!” former Crowe grad speaking at convocation

Dina Del Bucchia graduated from the Trail high school in 1997

Celebrating 60 years in the Beaver Valley

Senior Citizens’ Association Branch 44 was formed in 1959

VIDEO: Rare white killer whale captured by drone near Campbell River

The transient orca has been named Tl’uk, a Coast Salish word that means ‘moon.’

B.C.-born Carey Price brings young fan to tears at NHL Awards banquet

Anderson Whitehead first met his hockey idol after his mother died of cancer

Licence issue delays boozing while cruising on BC Ferries

Planned June launch for alcohol sales delayed

B.C. school mourns after 13-year-old killed by fallen tree on field trip

Teenager died after being struck and pinned by tree while on a field trip near Sooke

B.C. temporarily halts resource development to protect caribou

The caribou population in northeastern B.C. has dwindled over the last two decades

Students disciplined after anti-LGBTQ signs posted in Kamloops high school

Vessy Mochikas, SD73’s principal for inclusive education, called incident a learning opportunity

‘The Fonz’ gives thumbs up in letter to dyslexic students at B.C. school

Students in Maple Ridge reached out to Henry Winkler after reading one his Zipster books.

Fernie’s Kerri Wall hopes to represent Green Party in federal election

Nelson’s Abra Brynne and Kaslo’s Judson Hansel have also chosen to run

Most Read