It is almost a year ago that Trail Smoke Eaters goalie Logan Terness first pulled on a Smoke Eaters jersey as an affiliate player.
After goalie Donovan Buskey carried the Smoke Eaters to the Interior Division semifinals in April, the job was his to lose. Fortunately for the Smoke Eaters, Buskey booked it back to the WHL, and the 17-year-old Terness stepped up and is happily backstopping Trail to its best start in more than a decade.
“I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I came in this year, because we had three goalies at the start of the year,” said Terness. “So I just made sure I played my best when I could, and it worked out.
“There’s definitely no place I’d rather be, this is the perfect team for me, and this is where I want to play.”
Terness won his 13th game of the season, stopping 47 shots in a 3-1 Trail Smoke Eaters victory over the Chilliwack Chiefs on Saturday at the Cominco Arena.
“Forty-eight shots against, that’s a credit to our goaltender, and almost 20 in the first period,” said Smoke Eaters head coach and GM Jeff Tambellini. “He (Terness) gave us a chance to weather our first period and allowed us to stay in the game, and that’s what great goaltending does, it lets you stay in games that maybe you don’t deserve to win. He’s definitely our first star tonight.”
Trail earned three-of-four points on the weekend, skating to a 4-4 tie with the Langley Rivermen on Friday, before defeating the Chiefs Saturday, on a big night for the Trail goaltender.
“It felt pretty busy, but the boys did a good job keeping everything to the outside, so it made it an easy night for what it was,” said Terness. “They (Chilliwack) definitely played unreal tonight too.”
The Chiefs shut out the Penticton Vees 4-0 on Friday night and were looking to continue their winning ways against Interior Division teams in Trail. The Smoke Eaters controlled the play early in the first, but the Chiefs came on strong in the latter half, outshooting the Smoke Eaters 17-7 in the opening frame.
“Chilliwack came out pretty hard, and they played hard the whole game but we were just on them, shutting them down, and getting pucks out of our zone pretty quick,” said Terness. “And I think that’s what led to our success today.”
The game remained scoreless until Tyler Ghirardosi scored his 13th of the season on a power play. The Montrose native batted a rebound out of mid-air and past Caron for a 1-0 lead 2:21 into the middle frame. The goal was Ghirardosi’s fourth in three games, and after managing just five points in the first 10 matches, Ghirardosi has 18 points in the last 12 games and 25 points on the season.
“He’s played fantastic all year, and him, Phil (Lapointe), and (Owen) Ozar, have great chemistry, but Tyler has really taken his game to a different level and we’re really starting to see who he is as a hockey player,” said Tambellini.
Max Kryski notched his third of the season at 15:35 of the second period for the game winner. Jameson Murray’s point shot was kicked out by Chilliwack goalie Mathieu Caron, but went right to Kryski who shovelled in the rebound for a 2-0 Smoke Eaters lead. Kryski has been a big piece of the Smoke Eaters puzzle, and one of the top penalty killers, known more for his defence and two-way prowess than his goal scoring.
“It’s so important to have your depth guys step up,” said Tambellini. “We made a line today of Kryski, (Connor) Sweeney, and (Chase) Dafoe and they were fantastic all night. They gave us offence, they locked down on every penalty kill, and gave us great shifts 5-on-5.”
The Smoke Eaters went into the final frame leading 2-0 and did not want to repeat the previous night’s squandering of a 3-0 lead. Chilliwack continued to press and newly acquired forward Tommy Lyons scored his first as a Chief, beating Terness five-hole at 7:57 to cut the lead to one.
Chilliwack had their chance to tie the match on two power plays late in the third, but Trail’s penalty kill came up big, and Terness was unbeatable the rest of the way. The Burnaby native made his best save of the night in the final five minutes, sliding across and robbing the Chiefs Ethan Bowen on the doorstep.
“The two previous games, it’s not like our group to have that happen, but it’s a great lesson on how to respond, how to act when you’re up a couple goals,” added Tambellini. “I like that we we’re up just one and found a way to get through two tough penalty kills, and find a way to get it done.”
With the Chiefs goalie pulled, Chilliwack again pressed but Trail d-man Powell Connor put one through the uprights, scoring into the empty net for the 3-1 final with 33 seconds remaining.
Chilliwack outshot Trail 48-29, with the Smokies going 1-for-3 on the power play and a perfect 3-for-3 on the PK.
Terness was named the game’s first star, with Kryski earning second star and Chilliwack goalie, Caron, the third star.
Terness is 13-4, and boasts a 2.17 GAA and .939 save percentage. He ranks among the top-5 goalies in all categories, and is the youngest starter in the BCHL. His steadiness in the crease has helped the Smoke Eaters to an 18-8-2-1-1 record, good for second in the Interior Division standings.
In Friday’s 4-4 draw with the Rivermen, Trail jumped out to a 3-0 first period lead on two goals from Ghirardosi and a single from Braden Costello, but Langley chipped away tying the game in the middle frame, before Smokies Kent Johnson gave Trail a 4-3 lead with 19 seconds left in the period.
The Rivermen found the equalizer, however, when Tristan Fraser beat Smokies goalie Matteo Paler-Chow at 4:03. The game was called with 11:32 to play, due to a serious injury to Corey Clifton. The Trail forward is recovering (see front page). As a result, an extra column for a ‘Tie’ was added to the BCHL Standings.
Trail next travels to Merritt on Wednesday for a mid-week match up against the Centennials, before returning to the Trail Memorial Centre on Saturday for its 70th Anniversary celebration when the Smokies play the Surrey Eagles.
Trail’s five invitees to the Team Canada West camp (Terness, Connor, Johnson, Lapointe, and Ozar) will play in Saturday’s match against the Eagles before leaving for Calgary to begin the camp on Dec. 1, and their quest to play in the World Junior A Challenge in Dawson Creek Dec. 7-15.