The Trail Smoke Eaters found their scoring touch on the weekend, but could only translate it into a single point on its three game road swing to the coast.
After dropping a 4-3 game to Victoria Friday and 9-5 to Cowichan Valley Saturday, the Smokies were determined to get back in the win column at the South Surrey Arena on Sunday.
However, an exciting back-and-forth match eventually ended in a 5-4 double-OT win for the Surrey Eagles.
“We’ve been struggling on the defensive side of the game, but offensively I thought, not just on Friday, but every game we put pucks in the net, we were being aggressive, and doing a lot of good things on that side of the ice; it’s the defensive side and the neutral-zone turnovers that are really costing us,” said Trail assistant coach Brent Heaven.
Following a scoreless 4-on-4 overtime, Devon Toews jumped off the bench and joined the rush in the opening minute of the 3-on-3-overtime period. Toews took a pass from Brett Mulcahy and swiftly snapped it by Trail goalie Lyndon Stanwood for the win and the hat trick.
Toews is a very good player but was definitely over the boards early on that play, said Heaven.
The extra man should have garnered a too-many-men penalty, but play proceeded, drawing the Smokies forward towards the wrong man, leaving Toews wide open.
The Smokies started the game on the right note, when Connor Collett corralled an Adam Wheeldon pass and fired it over the glove of Eagles goalie Glenn Ferguson to open the scoring at 2:40 of the first period.
The birds’ Craig Wyszomirski would tie it on a two-man power play before the period was out, but the Smokies responded in the second. Affiliate player Chandler Bruyckere jumped on a turnover and notched his first BCHL goal when he rifled a slap shot past a bewildered Ferguson.
But the Eagles would tie it at 15:38 of the middle frame on Toews first goal of the night, and then take the lead 52 seconds into the third period on Toews’ second marker.
Yet the Smokies were not done, Luke Sandler scored his third on the weekend converting a pass from Austin Adduono to tie it at 11:08, and Brent Baltus notched his fourth goal in three games to put the Smokies up 4-3 two minutes later.
“It’s good to see, because he’s (Sandler) getting lots of chances and now they’re starting to come,” Heaven added. “It’s a perfect example of if you’re getting the opportunities and they’re not going in, just keep working hard and he’s working hard and now it’s starting to come for him.”
But with just over two minutes remaining in regulation Eric Chevrier’s point shot eluded a screened Stanwood to pull the Eagles even and force overtime.
Stanwood stood tall however especially when facing a power play in the first overtime, when McMullen was called for a penalty for continuing to play after losing his helmet.
“We’ve got a good team, offensively when we’re clicking we’ve got the power there, but I think we try to do too much,” Heaven said.
“The team that makes the least amount of mistakes is the team that usually wins at the end of the day, just right now we’re making more mistakes than our opponents are.”