Former Smoke Eaters forward Levi Glasman and the Powell River Kings kept their winning streak going, powering past the Trail Smoke Eaters with a 5-2 victory at the Cominco Arena on Wednesday.
The Kings won their fifth straight to start the 2019-20 campaign, while the 4-0-0-1 Smoke Eaters are still looking for their first ‘W’ through five games.
“I think there’s definitely a little, well probably a lot of frustration,” said Smoke Eaters assistant captain Tyler Ghirardosi. “We come out in the first 20 and play our style of hockey. Being undisciplined really affects us and we took a couple penalties. I thought we played a really good first, but it just got away from us.”
The Smokies played arguably their best two periods of the young BCHL season on Wednesday outshooting Powell River 28-19 through two, yet still trailed the visiting Kings 1-0 heading into the final frame.
Trail has tallied seven goals in five games. The lack of scoring has the players gripping their sticks a little tighter than usual, as they fired the puck into the chest of Kings’ goalie Matteo Paler-Chow on numerous occasions or simply missed the net.
Conversely, the Kings own the most potent offence in the league with 29 goals through five matches, and are led by BCHL Player of the Week, Glasman, who has five goals and 11 points over the same span.
Trail traded Glasman to Powell River 16 games into the 2018-19 campaign, and like he did for the Smoke Eaters, the 20-year-old forward has been a scoring machine. After counting 52 points in 53 games as a rookie in Trail, Glasman put up 63 points last season, and is on a 2.2 points-per-game clip this year.
“A lot of it has to do with my coach Tyler Kuntz, he definitely helped me a lot with habits and details and just fixing my game away from the puck, rather than when I have the puck, so I think he’s really done a lot for me this year and last year,”said Glasman.
Smoke Eaters rookie goalie Logan Terness played solid through two periods, but he misplayed a dump-in from Hunter McCoy, whiffing on a clearing attempt, as the puck snuck through his pads to make it 2-0 Kings just six seconds into the third.
Less than a minute later, the Kings followed that up with Dawson McKay shovelling in a generous rebound for a 3-0 lead, and chasing the 17-year-old Terness from the crease in favour of Donovan Buskey.
“The first period was a good effort, the second period, a couple penalties killed the momentum, and we just got unlucky bounces,” said Ghirardosi. “It’s a game of bounces and we just came out on the short end of the stick.”
The Smokies finally got on the board two minutes later when Ghirardosi batted a Michael Colella rebound out of midair for his first goal of the season.
However, any momentum was quickly quashed as Powell River’s Michael Agrall restored the three-goal deficit, beating goalie Donovan Buskey stick side at 7:48.
Trail pressured the Kings, but Paler-Chow denied Kelowna native Colby Elmer on a breakaway and Jaden Senkoe on two strong rushes by the talented forward.
The Smoke Eaters got one back on a shorthanded effort that saw Ghirardosi break around the defenceman and saucer a pass to d-man Kieran O’Hearn, who made no mistake burying it glove side to cut the lead to 4-2.
The Kings, however, declared checkmate eight seconds later when Glasman fed Rowan Miller in the slot and he wired a shot past Buskey for the 5-2 final with 3:15 remaining.
The Smoke Eaters outshot the Kings 40-32 and went 1-for-5 on the power play, while Powell River scored once on three chances. Ghirardosi was Trail’s best player on the night and earned the third star nod, while Paler-Chow claimed first star, and Jack Brackett second star for the Kings.
Glasman’s return to Trail, where he made his BCHL debut, was a special moment for the Lacombe, AB native, as the Kings kicked off a nine-game road trip.
“Definitely wanted to come in here and get the win, but it was very exciting, very emotional, and a lot of familiar faces,” said Glasman. “I loved the place (Trail) and can’t thank them enough for my time when I was here.”
The Smoke Eaters counted one point in an overtime loss to Salmon Arm last weekend and currently sit in sixth place in the Interior Division. If there is any consolation, Trail has played BCHL’s best in their opening five games. The Powell River Kings, Salmon Arm Silverbacks and Penticton Vees are a combined 12-0-0-0 so far this season and will likely prove to be among the league’s top contenders.
“I don’t want to make excuses but those are good teams we’re playing,” said Ghirardosi. “Especially in the long run, I think we’re going to be better than those teams. A couple nights ago, we didn’t play our best hockey but we still almost beat Salmon Arm. Once we find our groove we’ll be fine.”
Time on the road may be a positive for the struggling Smoke Eaters as they head to Wenatchee for a game against the 3-0-0-1 Wild on Friday, then to West Kelowna for a tilt versus the 1-3-1-0 Warriors on Saturday.
“I think the group is feeling a lot of pressure, we just need to relax, maybe get out of town for a couple days, pick up a couple wins, and get back on track,” he added.
The Smoke Eaters then return to Trail for a Sunday match against the Victoria Grizzlies at 5 p.m at the Cominco Arena.
Smoke Signals: Come early on Sunday, 3:30 p.m., and bring a non-perishable food item to add to the Kurtis’ No Frills cart in support of the Trail United Food Bank. Lots of fun and activities planned.