Trades upgrade experience

The Trail Smoke Eaters shook things up last week, shipping out three players and bringing in four new faces.

The Trail Smoke Eaters shook things up last week, shipping out three players and bringing in four new faces for their Saturday game against the Vernon Vipers.

The day after beating the league leading Penticton Vees, the Smokies sent starting goalie Matt Lerose, Daniel Delbianco and the rights of Eric Walker to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs in exchange for three players: defensemen Tanner Hicks, 19, and Mark Keca, 18, and forward Taylor House, 19.

Trail also traded veteran blue-liner Rajan Sidhu to the AJHL Drumheller Dragon’s for goaltender James D’Andrea.

With the highest goals against in the league and Lerose off to a slow start, the Smokies were looking for options and D’Andrea is believed to be a solid prospect who played with the Calgary Canucks last season.

The trade also brings some needed experience to the blue line with Hicks and Keca, and forward Taylor House helped Osoyoos win a KIJHL championship last year.

“We’ve acquired two defensemen who can fit into our top four, and House has the skill to be in our top two forward lines.” said Birks in a release.

All four newcomers were in the lineup Saturday as the team faced the Vipers.

Unfortunately, Vernon broke a 3-3 tie with just over three minutes remaining in the third period to help lift the Vipers past the Smoke Eaters 6-3 at Cominco Arena.

The Smokies continued their good play from Wednesday’s 4-3 win over Penticton.

Leading 2-1 in the first, thanks to goals by Adam Boytinck and Clayton Chessa, Trail looked in line for another upset victory.

But Vernon’s Adam Tambellini would tie the game after Luke Bertolucci restored the one-goal advantage in the second on a power play with Keca adding an assist.

Vernon outplayed the Smokies in the third outshooting them 13-8, and two late goals and an empty netter would ice the win for the Vipers.

The Vipers fired 32 shots at Reed Vogt while Trail had 23 against Vernon’s Danny Todosychuk.

Trail plays three games on the road before returning Nov. 4 to host Vernon.

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