The Trail Smoke Eaters were running on all cylinders, getting production up and down the lineup as they defeated the Cowichan Valley Capitals 6-2 at the Comnico Arena on Friday.
Five Smokie players had two-point nights, and Adam Todd stopped 48 shots and picked up an assist as Trail scored three goals in the first five minutes and never looked back. The win marks Trail’s third in five games to start the season, while the Caps drop to 1-and-6.
“It was a good effort,” said Trail Smoke Eater coach Nick Deschenes. “From a team perspective we got on the board early, and that helped us take control of the game, although I think we played a little too loose for my liking in our defensive zone.”
Jake Lucchini, Connor Brown-Maloski, and Dallas Calvin tallied goals in the first four minutes and eight seconds to give Trail what proved to be an insurmountable lead over the Island division Capitals. The three Smokies along with Brian Basilico each counted a goal and an assist on the night, while Brandon Volpe and Charlie Zuccarini rounded out the scoring for Trail.
“Our game plan was to distribute the offence throughout four lines so we could roll four, and maintain a higher tempo, so that worked out. We had some balanced scoring, and we had guys that probably could have scored more goals, but they could have too so in the end we’re happy.”
The Smokies newest acquisitions also paid dividends. Despite some good games to start the season, it was Brown-Maloski’s first goal as a Smoke Eater, and defenceman Griffyn Martin also picked up two helpers in his Smokies debut.
“Connor has been getting better every game, and Griffyn hasn’t played for a while . . . but I think he’s going to settle in and really find his game. He is really solid, there’s no kinks to his game,” said Deschenes.
The Capitals outshot the Smoke Eaters 50-49 but Todd was on his game making several big saves, in what Deschenes described as Todd’s best game of the season. The Courtenay native is off to a good start with a 2.99 goals against average and a .911 save percentage in all five games. However, the number of shots against remains a concern for the Smokie coach, and something he plans to address in practice this week.
“We’ve talked about it a little bit today, and our practice is probably going to try to simulate being more physical and being more aggressive, because I think we may be just a little too easy to play against.”
Trail was 1-for-5 on the power play and perfect on the penalty kill with Cowichan going 0-for-6 with the man advantage.