Stars shine on Smokies road trip

Often the success of any team depends upon their top players leading the way.

Shutout win in Penticton, OT loss against Westside

Often the success of any team depends upon their top players leading the way.

The Trail Smoke Eaters got exactly that over the weekend as they picked up three of four points in a pair of games in hostile territory.

Friday night in Penticton, goaltender Kiefer Smiley stopped all 32 shots and Sam Mellor and Scott Jacklin combined for five points in a 6-0 whitewash of the Penticton Vees.

Saturday night in West Kelowna, the Smokies collected their first point of the season against the Westside Warriors as Travis St. Denis scored three times before Trail fell 5-4 in double overtime.

Once the weekend’s action was over, the Smokies had moved within three points of second place in the Interior Division held jointly by Penticton and the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.

Trail can make a further dent in that gap this coming weekend with a home-and-home series against Salmon Arm beginning Friday at the Cominco Arena.

The weekend’s road games continued a string of success for the Smokies, which have collected at least a single point in all seven road games in 2011, by far the team’s best stretch of road play in over a decade.

It began Friday when Smiley posted his second shutout in five starts and the Smokies picked up two valuable points against a division frontrunner.

The Smokies jumped out to a 3-0 first period on goals from Jake Baker and power play markers from Jacklin and Mellor.

Meanwhile the defence limited the Vees to only five shots on Smiley in the first 20 minutes.

Eric Walker had a second period goal while Paul Mailey, who continued his recent scoring surge, and Cullen Bradshaw added third-period markers.

See ST. DENIS, Page 10

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St. Denis stepped into the spotlight on Saturday scoring once on the power play, once on a penalty shot and once at even-strength for his second hat trick of the season.

His first marker, along with a goal by Bradshaw, spotted Trail a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.

But Tyler French tied the game for Westside two minutes into the final frame. That began a tit-for-tat sequence with the Warriors answering St. Denis’s two third-period goals less than a minute after the Trail native potted his.

That kept the score knotted and forced overtime. The wide-open extra session saw Trail outshoot Westside 9-8 through the first overtime and almost four minutes of the second overtime.

However, Westside completed the season sweep of Trail when Max French scored with 66 seconds left in the game to net the victory.

This Friday’s game in Trail will be the last home game of the regular season. The Smokies wrap up their schedule with road games in Salmon Arm, Vernon and Merritt.