A shorthanded Trail Smoke Eaters team managed a win on their three-game swing through the Lower Mainland on the weekend.
Following a promising 4-1 victory over the Coquitlam Express on Friday, the Smokies offence faltered in a 3-1 loss to Langley Rivermen on Saturday and a 7-2 setback to the Chilliwack Chiefs on Sunday.
“It’s always difficult when you’re transitioning guys in and out of the line up,” Tambellini told Smoke Eater broadcaster Trevor Miller. “We have seven regulars out of our line up right now that’s always tough to handle but we have to find a way to make it work.”
Trail knew they would be in tough this weekend with regular skaters Mack Byers, Powell Connor, Kyle Chernenkoff, Max Kryski and Layne Sniher out due to illness or injury, and added APs Chase Dafoe, Colby Elmer, Michael Hagen and Walker Erickson.
The Chiefs top forward Harrison Blaisdel, 17, was gone for the week after being selected to play for Team West at the World Junior A Challenge, but Chilliwack welcomed team leading scorer Kevin Wall back to the line up on Sunday against the Smoke Eaters after serving a two-game suspension.
“Any time you lose a key part of your offence, it gives a chance for other kids to step up,” Chilliwack assistant coach Cam Keith told Miller. “Unfortunately we didn’t get it Saturday night, but it’s a brand new game tonight, and Kevin Wall is one of the best offensive weapons in our league, he’s a huge part of our team,” said Keith.
Chilliwack was coming off a 5-0 loss to the Powell River Kings the previous day, but found their offence on Sunday.
Trail’s affiliate goalie Logan Terness earned his first start against Chilliwack on Sunday, looking to fill the spot vacated by Tanner Marshall two weeks ago.
The Chiefs jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals from Marcus Tesink and Brett Willits as Chilliwack outshot Trail 11-8 in the period.
A power play goal by Cole Donhauser two minutes into the middle frame put the Chiefs up 3-0 and an Ethan Bowen marker made it 4-0 after two. Former Penticton Vees goalie Nolan Hildebrand kept the shut-out bid intact through two with 14 saves, while Terness faced 23 Chilliwack shots.
Chiefs forward Matt Holmes made it 5-0 before Tyler Ghirardosi scored a power-play goal on a setup from Hayden Rowan and Bryce Anderson for his third point in three games.
Bowen notched his 14th of the year and Wyatt Elmer scored at 5:23, before Smokies d-man Kyle Budvarson tallied his first as a Smoke Eater with 3:42 to play for the 7-2 final.
The Chiefs outshot Trail 34-21 and went 3-for-6 on the power play, while the Smoke Eaters were 1-for-7.
On Saturday, Trail and Langley were tied 1-1 after 40 minutes but goals from Trevor Ayre and Mark Gallant made it 3-1 Rivermen. Trail’s lone goal came from Bryce Anderson with an assist to Ghirardosi and Trevor Zins, as the Rivermen outshot Trail 25-13.
On Friday, the Smoke Eaters jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a goal by Owen Ozar at 1:21 of the first as Trail fired 10 shots at the Coquitlam goal and Smokies goalie Adam Marcoux turned aside five Express shots.
Kent Johnson put Trail up 2-0 just 15 seconds into the middle stanza, and Michael Hodge netted his fifth of the campaign on a nice set up from Ghirardosi.
Affiliate Chase Dafoe scored his first goal as a Smoke Eater at 5:42 of the third period to give Trail a 4-0 lead before Express forward Hunter Alden ruined Marcoux’s shutout at 12:15.
Marcoux stopped 30 of 31 shots while Clay Stephenson turned aside 23 for Coquitlam.
Ghirardosi had a notable weekend scoring once and adding two assists, while also going toe-to-toe with Express forward Regan Kimens for the Montrose native’s first BCHL fight, which he won by knockout.
The 12-17-4-2 Smoke Eaters host the 11-12-6-3 Vernon Vipers on Wednesday at the Cominco Arena. The Vipers are coming off a 2-1 loss to the West Kelowna Warriors on Friday and are on a three-game losing skid.
The puck drop for the Smokies-Vipers game is 7 p.m.