The Trail Smoke Eaters dropped a pair of close games to the Merritt Centennials on the weekend

The Trail Smoke Eaters dropped a pair of close games to the Merritt Centennials on the weekend

Merritt Centennials take two against Trail Smoke Eaters

Merritt Centennials sweep the Trail Smoke Eaters in a home-and-home on the weekend.

The Merritt Centennials won both ends of a home-and-home against the Trail Smoke Eaters on the weekend.

In two close matches, the Smokies fell 5-3 to the Cents in Merritt on Friday before dropping a 3-2 match at home Saturday to fall to 1-3-0. Despite the losses the Smokies newly minted captain Connor Brown-Maloski says the team is staying positive.

“It’s early in the season,” says the Kamloops native. “Two points are big, at the end of the season it’s always close so it hurts a bit, but we still have to work out a few bumps and stuff here.”

On Saturday, Merritt’s Brett Jewell caused a turnover at the Smokies blue line and fed a wide open Chase Bell down low who backhanded a quick shot past Trail goalie Zach Dyment to break a 2-2 tie and net the winner two minutes and 25 seconds into the second period.

“Last night we had five different scores, tonight three,” said Cents’ coach Joe Martin. “That’s important too for our group that the scoring gets spread out, and the new guys are feeling part of it, and the veterans are happy about their start to the season, so it’s really important that everyone feels a part of it.”

After going 4-0-1 in the preseason, the wins leave the Cents unbeaten this season, 2-0-1, with a 2-2 tie against the Prince George Spruce Kings to open the campaign.

“It feels good,” said Martin. “This was probably our hardest game. Trail hasn’t been kind to us, last year it was always tough coming here and getting two points so happy about the way that it went tonight.”

Trail jumped out to a promising start in the first period carrying the play in the early going but two quick goals in two minutes by rookie Tyler Pietrowski and veteran Michael Regush put the Cents up 2-0.However, the Smokies came back and tied the game before the period was out.

Ross Armour netted his second of the season, banging in a rebound off a Josh Laframboise redirection to bring the Smokies within one at 8:45 of the first period. Then with just under four minutes to play in the opening frame Ryan Moon took a heads up backpass from Braeden Tuck and wired it glove side on Colten Lancaster to score his first goal as a Smoke Eater.

The Smokies outshot Merritt 13-11 in the opening frame, but Dyment made several big saves in the second period to keep the match close as Merritt stole the momentum in the middle frame outshooting Trail 12-8. Trail’s opportunities were limited in the third but they came close hitting the post midway through the period and getting robbed by Lancaster on a rebound in close to keep the Cents unbeaten this season.

‘We’re just trying to figure things out so hopefully we can get things going into next weekend,” said Brown-Maloski. “We didn’t play a bad game, we need to work on a few things but it’s heading in the right direction for sure.”

Merritt outshot Trail 31-29 with Lancaster earning first star honours, Dyment second star, and Moon the third star. While disappointing for the Smokies the Trail captain sees it as part of a greater learning curve for the team.

“I just think it’s all mental,” said Brown-Maloski. “The guys have to be ready to go every shift. It’s the small battles, every 30 seconds you’re out there you just have to win your battle. It’s early in the season and we have a lot of young guys, so just have to sharpen up a little bit and I think it will come.”

In contrast to Trail’s five returning veterans, Merritt boasts a veteran lineup with 13 players returning from last year’s team including university commits Regush (Cornell), Zach Court (Nebraska), Cade Gleekel (St. Lawrence), and Zach Mesta (Quinnipiac).

“It’s huge,” said Martin. “We’re not getting these wins right now without these veteran guys. Last year we had five guys to start the year and this year it feels like we have a whole room of veterans.”

On Friday night, Smokie forward Luke Santerno had a goal and an assist and Brown-Maloski added two assists in a losing effort as Merritt defeated Trail 5-3. Linden Marshall made his first start in goal for the Smokies and stopped 34 shots, while Jacob Berger blocked 36 for the Cents.

In a back-and-forth match, Regush opened the score 73 seconds into the first period, but goals from Santerno and Ryan Murphy gave Trail a 2-1 lead. However, the wild first period ended with Merritt leading 3-2 on goals from Ryan Van Ulen and Pietrowski.

The Centennials Tyler Ward put Merritt up 4-2 before Troy Ring brought the Smokies within one, but Merritt’s Berger shut the Smokies down stopping 17 shots in the final frame, and added an insurance marker from Ryan Roseboom 6:37 into the third period for the 5-3 win.

“I told our guys, I know it’s not realistic, but I expect to win every night. I know it’s not going to happen, but you might as well strive for perfection, we expect it.”

Trail will travel to Chilliwack next weekend for the BCHL Showdown with games against the Powell River Kings and the Victoria Grizzlies.

Just Posted

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

SD20 now has an electric bus. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay-Columbia School District 20 adds electric bus to fleet

Bus will be incorporated into Castlegar route for next school year

Painting by Dave Davies from Shaver’s Bench facing Teck Trail.
Happy 120th Birthday to the City of Trail!

The town of Trail Creek- or Trail Creek Landing - was incorporated as a city on June 14, 1901.

Cropped photo: Silver Screen Drive-in will be in the upper parking lot of Waneta Plaza.
Summer drive-in returns to Trail unveiling blockbuster movies

PHOTOS: Scroll to bottom for a trip down memory lane to the Auto Vue Drive-In

Gentle draft horses are bred and raised in feedlots in Canada to be exported for slaughter. Since 2013, more than 40,000 horses have been exported out of Canada. Photo: Canadian Horse Defense Coalition
Ban the shipping of Canadian horses overseas for slaughter

Since 2013, over 40,000 horses have been exported out of Canada.

How to tell if a call from ‘CRA’ is legitimate or a scam

Expert says it’s important to verify you really are dealing with the CRA before you give out any info

British Columbia-Yukon Community News Association’s 2021 Ma Murray Awards were handed out during a virtual ceremony on Friday, June 10. (Screen grab)
Black Press Media winners take gold at B.C. and Yukon journalism awards

Publications received nods in dozens of categories

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets campers while visiting McDougall, Ont. on Thursday, July 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
71% of B.C. men say they’d prefer to go camping with Trudeau: survey

Most British Columbians with plans to go camping outdoors say they’d prefer to go with Trudeau or Shania Twain

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

Chilliwack cocaine trafficker Clayton Eheler seen with a tiger somewhere in Asia in 2014. Eheler was sentenced to nine years jail in 2018, but was released on bail in October 2020 pending his appeal of conviction.(Facebook)
Director of civil forfeiture seeks $140,000 from Fraser Valley drug dealer’s father-in-law

Clayton Eheler’s father-in-law Ray Morrissey caught with money in Fort St. John by B.C.’s gang unit

A Comox Valley shellfish operator pleaded guilty and was fined $10,000 in provincial court in Courtenay earlier this year. Record file photo
B.C. clam harvester fined $10,000 for Fisheries Act violations

Charges against three others were stayed in Courtenay Provincial Court

Frank Phillips receives a visit from his wife Rena at Nanaimo Seniors Village on their 61st wedding anniversary, March 31, 2020. Social visits have been allowed since COVID-19 vaccination has been offered in all care homes. (Nanaimo News Bulletin)
B.C. prepares mandatory vaccination for senior care homes

180 more cases of COVID-19 in B.C. Friday, one more death

Lorraine Gibson, 90, received a COVID-19 immunization at the South Surrey Park and Ride vaccination clinic. (File photo: Aaron Hinks)
Surrey has had 25% of B.C.’s total COVID-19 cases

Surrey recorded 4,012 cases in May

The arrest south of Winnipeg occurred before Bernier was to arrive at a protest in the city. (Twitter/Maxime Bernier)
Maxime Bernier arrested following anti-rules rallies in Manitoba: RCMP

He’s been charged with exceeding public gathering limits and violating Manitoba’s requirement to self-isolate

Most Read