The Trail Smoke Eaters hit a couple bumps in the road on the weekend.
After beating the Powell River Kings 6-2 on Friday night, Trail’s nine game point streak was derailed by the Nanaimo Clippers on Saturday in a 4-1 setback. The Smokies then suffered another defeat to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 5-2 on Sunday.
The three games in less than three days takes its toll, and by Sunday Trail was playing shorthanded after losing a handful of players to injury in the lead up to Sunday’s match.
Trail defenceman Cody Schiavon was already out of the line up, so the loss of another impact defenceman in Jameson Murray in the game against Nanaimo left the Smokies short on the backend. As a result, they inserted affiliate player Cameron Moger from the Okanagan Rockets of the BC Major Midget League. Trail forward Chase Dafoe left the game early in the first period with injury, and Colby Elmer was also out of the line up.
Trail led 2-0 after the first period, but five unanswered goals lifted Alberni to a big win. Trail scored twice in the first period on goals from Diarmad DiMurro and a Tyler Ghirardosi power-play marker to take a 2-0 lead into the second. However, Alberni came on strong in the middle frame with Moe Acee finally beating Trail goalie Logan Terness at 6:39.
The Bulldogs swarmed the Trail net in the third and two quick goals from Mitch Deelstra just 17 seconds apart gave Alberni a 3-2 lead with 13:55 to go.
Alberni’s power play went to work late in the final frame, with Stephen Castagna banging one by Terness to make it 4-2 with 4:37 left, and another PP marker by Isaac Pascoal with 2:20 remaining in regulation for the 5-2 final.
Alberni outshot Trail 43-32 and went 2-for-4 on the power play, while the Smokies were 1-for-4.
The loss leaves Trail in third place four points behind first place Penticton Vees, who won in OT over Wenatchee Wild Saturday.
In Saturday’s match up, the Smokies faced the Island Division leading Nanaimo Clippers. The Clippers opened the scoring on Liam Ryan’s fourth goal of the campaign on a breakaway at 7:07 of the first period.
Injuries to Ghirardosi and Jameson Murray hampered an already shorthanded Smokies squad, and pressure from the Clippers culminated in a Tyler Williams goal. The Nanaimo forward notched his seventh, scoring what proved to be the game winner on a set up from Devon Mussio and former Smoke Eater Sean Donaldson at 9:08 of the middle frame.
Devon Mussio added an insurance goal with five minutes to go in the period, and Nanaimo’s Joshua Bourne made it 4-1 6:13 into the third. Trail finally got on the board when Corey Clifton scored his fourth of the season with just over three minutes to play.
Nanaimo outshot Trail 42-23 with both teams going 1-for-4 on the power play.
In Friday’s match, Trail goalie Matteo Paler-Chow stopped 32 shots in a 6-2 victory over his former team, the Powell River Kings. Paler-Chow was stellar on the night in a physical affair that saw the Kings outshoot Trail 34-24.
Trail defenceman Corey McCann scored his first of the season on what proved to be the game winner. The Kelowna product wired a shot past Kings goalie Derek Krall to make it 3-1 just five minutes into the second period.
The Smokies Owen Ozar netted his 12th of the season to give the Smokies a 1-0 lead at 2:47 and Walker Erickson made it 2-0 just over two minutes later.
The Kings cut the lead to one to close out the opening period but three second period goals from McCann, Kent Johnson and Powell Connor gave the Smokies a 5-1 lead.
Trail defenceman Jackson Murphy-Johnson tallied his first goal of the season to make it 6-1, before Powell River’s Dawson McKay closed out the scoring with just over six minutes to go in the final frame.
With 67 seconds left on the clock, Trail defenceman Powell Connor and Powell River forward Jacob Slipec went toe-to-toe, exchanging right hands for a good half minute before the refs stepped in.
Trail went 1-for-2 on the power play, and 4-for-5 on the penalty kill.
Paler-Chow earned first star of the game, while Philippe Lapointe with two assists was second star, and Ozar (1G, 1A) third star.
The Smoke Eaters return to the Cominco Arena this weekend for games against Mainland Division Langley Rivermen and Chilliwack Chiefs at 7 p.m. at the Cominco Arena on Friday and Saturday respectively.