The Trail Smoke Eaters fell to the Vernon Vipers 6-2 on Saturday in Vernon

Trail Smoke Eaters drop two games on weekend

In a fight for second place the Trail Smoke Eaters lost a 6-2 battle with the Vernon Vipers on Saturday.

Former Trail Smoke Eater players came back to haunt the team in a pair of games on the weekend, that saw the Smokies salvage just one point and fall out of second spot in the BCHL’s Interior Division standings.

Trail native and former Smoke Eater Riley Brandt struck for two goals and an assist on Saturday as the Vernon Vipers cruised to a 6-2 humbling of the Trail Smoke Eaters in Vernon and Max Newton netted the overtime goal in a 4-3 Cowichan Valley Capitals victory in Trail on Friday.

With the win, Vernon takes sole possession of second place in the division while Trail falls into third spot, two points back of the Vipers. But with only six points separating second and sixth place, the basement isn’t that far of a fall for a Trail team that has struggled of late, winning just once in its last five games.

Connor Clouston scored his first goal of the season, that turned out to be the winning tally with just 43 seconds to play in the first period, to give Vernon a 3-1 lead.

The Vipers came out determined in the opening frame and after Trail’s Mitch Barker was sent off for tripping, the Vipers’ Christian Cakebread set up Cooper Watson on the doorstep just 3:39 in to give Vernon a 1-0 lead.

Kale Howarth tied the game, netting his 19th of the season, from Josh Laframboise at 6:16 but Brandt’s first of the night with 1:59 to play in the opening frame set the tone for the rest of the game. Clouston would net the winner before the period was out, as Vernon outshot Trail 12-5 in the period.

Trail pushed back in the second period firing 13 shots at Vernon goalie Darion Hanson, who was recently acquired by Vernon from the USHL’s Youngstown Phantoms. The Vipers released goalie Cole Demers in order to make room for Hanson, a Union commit and Goalie of the Year recipient last year in the USHL.

The Vipers Jagger Williamson and Watson added two more in the middle frame to give Vernon a 5-1 lead heading into the third, and Brandt made it 6-1 midway through the period before Trail’s Ryan Moon finishing the scoring.

Vernon outshot Trail 38-28 in the match and went 2-for-4 on the power play while Trail was 0-for-4.

Watson was the game’s first star, Brandt the second star, and Williamson the third star.

In Friday’s tilt, Newton’s game winner 41 seconds into the first overtime and a few game-saving stops by Adam Marcoux lifted the Capitals to a 4-3 victory at the Cominco Arena.

After Trail was stymied by Marcoux on the opening rush, the Capitals stormed back with Newton netting his 16th of the season on a pass from Ayden McDonald to give Cowichan its 16th win of the season.

A frantic first period saw Trail take a 3-2 lead on goals from Andre Ghantous, Connor Brown-Maloski, and Howarth, while Trevor Ayre scored twice for the Caps. It turned into a goaltender’s duel through regulation with only McDonald beating Smokie netminder Linden Marshall to tie it early in the second period.

Trail outshot Cowichan 36-32 and went 1-for-5 on the power play, while Cowichan was 1-for-4. Brown-Maloski was named the game’s first star, with Cowichan’s Ayre taking second star, and d-man Mitch Stapley of the Smokies the game’s third star.

Trail’s next game goes in Penticton on Wednesday.

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