Clayton Chessa contributed a modified Gordie Howe hat trick and the Trail Smoke Eaters’ power play was on fire as the team picked up its first win in Merritt before being doused in Penticton by the Vees.
After tying the Merritt Centennials on Wednesday at home, the Smokies returned to Merritt, Friday, where they skated to a 5-3 victory. But in their second game Saturday against Penticton the Smokies were blown out 9-1.
In the Merritt game, the Smokies stormed back from a 3-2 deficit in the second period to score three unanswered goals in the third.
Leading the charge was Chessa, who added two goals (rather than a goal and an assist), to go along with his second period fight to complete the Howe hat trick.
Following a tight checking scoreless first period, Brent Baltus put the Smokies on the board with a power-play goal at 1:34 of the second, assisted by Brandon Long and Luke Bertolucci.
Three minutes later Adam Boytinck converted a pass from Nicholas Wong and beat Merritt goalie Lino Chimienti on another power-play marker.
But Merritt countered with three goals of their own and two in the final minute of the period to take a 3-2 lead into the third.
The penalty-filled second was highlighted by the Chessa and Dylan Chanter tilt. Chanter also received the instigator penalty and a game misconduct. The dust-up must have motivated Chessa because he came out flying in the third.
A minute into the period the 20 year old finished a pass from Wong to tie the game and with six minutes remaining Chessa replied again, burying the puck after a nice set up from Clayton McEwan to take a 4-3 lead.
Wong capped off his three point night by scoring a power-play goal in the final minute to ice the game. Adam Boytinck and Brent Baltus assisted on the goal.
The Smoke Eaters went 3-for-8 on the power play which was the difference in a game where they were outshot 35-33. Goalie Matt Larose played well, especially in the third, with the game on the line Larose stopped all 11 shots directed at him.
Chessa was named first star of the game for his two goals, Wong second star and Merritt’s Chad Brears third star.
However, it was a long bus ride home on Saturday night, after the 9-1 thrashing to the Vees.
Trail native Travis St. Denis came back to haunt his former team, and was named second star after scoring two goals and adding two assists for a four-point night.
Down 6-0, Chessa counted the only marker for the Smoke Eaters early in the third period, a power-play goal set up by Matt Bissett.
Larose was pulled in the second period after Penticton went up 5-0. Reed Vogt finished the game in which the Smokies were outshot 44 to 17.
The Smoke Eaters next home game is Friday against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks at 7:30 p.m.