The Trail Smoke Eaters ended their home season on a high note, defeating the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in front of a capacity crowd of 2,800 fans at the Cominco Arena on Friday.
The 8-5 win against the ‘Backs and an 8-3 loss to the Vernon Vipers in Vernon Saturday brings to a close the Smoke Eaters regular season and a fourth-place finish in the tough Interior Division. Trail’s 32 victories and 69 points is the most since 2007-08 when they accumulated 35 wins and 76 points and finished third in the Interior.
In Friday’s match, rookie Levi Glasman netted a hat trick and Braeden Tuck and Mack Byers each pitched in with a pair of goals in Trail’s season sweep of Salmon Arm.
Glasman, a Red Deer native, was overlooked for the Interior BCHL rookie of the year considerations, despite leading all BCHL rookies in goals scored, 24, and second in points, 58, only to the Island Division’s Alex Newhook, 22-44-66, this season. Vernon’s Josh Prokop, with 36 points, was the Interior Division’s selection for the rookie award along with Newhook and the Mainland Division’s Cory Andonovski of the Chilliwack Chiefs.
Trail jumped out to a 2-0 lead on early goals from Glasman and Smokies defenceman Conner Welsh. However, the ‘Backs Brandon Whistle cut the lead to one, and Hudson Schandor netted a power play goal to tie it at 2-2 with less than four minutes remaining.
Trail answered when Byers scored his fourth of the season on a pretty set up from Blake Sidoni to make it 3-2 with just 20 seconds left on the clock.
The Silverback’s Jackson Cooke tied it again at 13:20 of the second period, but Trail erupted for five straight goals with Tuck putting the Smokies up 4-3 at 8:34 before back-to-back power play goals from Glasman gave the Smokies a 6-3 lead heading into the third period.
Byers then notched his fifth of the season, and Tuck put the Smokies up 8-3 before Demetri Kambeitz and Whistle added two more for Salmon Arm.
The Smoke Eaters outshot the ‘Backs 51-31 and went 3-for-4 on the power play, while Salmon Arm was 1-for-2.
Glasman earned the game’s first star, Byers second star, and Tuck third star.
In Saturday’s match in Vernon, the Vipers Brett Stapley scored three times in an 8-3 win over the Smoke Eaters.
The Smokies rested starting goalie Adam Marcoux, as well as top scorers Kale Howarth and Ross Armour in a game that meant little for the Smokies in the division standings.
The Vipers win locked up the second seed in the Interior after beating the Wenatchee Wild 4-3 on Friday, combined with a Wild 5-1 loss to the Penticton Vees on Saturday put the Snakes four points up.
Jesse Lansdell and Niko Karamanis gave Vernon a 2-0 first period lead, before Andre Ghantous replied for the Smokies 63 seconds into the second period. Stapley scored back-to-back tallies including a shorthanded marker midway through the frame, and Keyvan Mokhtari netted another shorty at 11:11.
Trail rookie Daine Dubois made it 5-2 at the end of the second, but third period goals from Lambert and Mitch Anders put the game away, with Glasman counting his 24th on a power play before Stapley finished the scoring at 14:54.
Vernon outshot Trail 46-22, and went 3-for-6 on the power play, while Trail was 1-for-2.
Trail will face the West Kelowna Warriors in round one of the Interior Division playoffs starting on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Cominco Arena.