Trail Smoke Eaters are on fire at home

Trail won a thriller against the Powell River Kings on Sunday and shut out the Vernon Vipers the previous day to remain undefeated at home.

The Trail Smoke Eaters Brent Baltus bangs in the winning goal with less than a minute to go

The Trail Smoke Eaters Brent Baltus bangs in the winning goal with less than a minute to go

There is no place like home for the Trail Smoke Eaters as they rebounded from a tough loss in West Kelowna on Friday to win back-to-back matches at the Cominco Arena against Vernon and Powell River on the weekend.

The Smokies lost to the West Kelowna Warriors on Friday, 8-2, but made a U-turn against the Vernon Vipers on Saturday playing solidly defensively en route to a 3-0 victory, and followed that up with a 3-2 victory over Powell River Sunday to remain undefeated at home this year.

On Sunday, the Smokies’ scored with less than a minute to go in regulation to notch a 3-2 victory over the Powell River Kings.

Garrett McMullen passed off to Scotty Davidson in the corner who feathered the puck perfectly to Brent Baltus in front of a surprised Jonah Imoo for the tap in with just 48 seconds left on the clock.

Powell River’s James Neil opened the scoring five minutes in, but Baltus would net his first of two on the night, when Davidson sent him in all alone on a break away, and the veteran sniped a shot over the Imoo’s blocker to tie it at one.

The Smokies took the lead at the 9:31 mark of the second period when Luke Sandler made a nice play at his own blueline, stealing the puck from a Kings forward and deftly head-manned it to a streaking Connor Collett. The Calgary native then made a slick pass past a sliding Kings’ D-man to Jake Lucchini who walked in and put a low shot past the Kings netminder for his first BCHL goal.

The Kings would tie it with just under nine minutes to go in the third when Jarryd Leung banged in a rebound over a sprawling Lyndon Stanwood.

Backed by another outstanding performance by goaltender Stanwood, the Smokies’ goalie stopped 39 shots while the Smoke Eaters fired 26 at Imoo.

Baltus’ fifth goal of the season ties him with McMullen who has a point in every game this year. The two lead the Smokies with five goals and four assists in nine games.

In Saturday’s game against the Vipers, a goal from recently acquired Sandler 1:41 into the first proved to be the only scoring the Smokies would need. Scott Davidson supplied the insurance goal, also his first in the BCHL, on the man advantage later in the first and Brent Baltus added another in the third.

The Smokies avenged a 7-2 loss to Vernon a week ago thanks in large part to a 33 save performance by Stanwood who registered his first BCHL shutout. 

Vernon outshot Trail 23-13 over the final 40 minutes but couldn’t solve the Smokie goalie.

Trail hosts the Warriors on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at the Cominco Arena and travel to Kelowna to take on the Warriors for the fourth time this season on Friday and are in Penticton Saturday to take on the Vees at the South Okanagan Event Centre.

Check out more Trail Smoke Eater news in the Trail Times newspaper edition on Tuesday.