The Trail Smoke Eaters scored 12 seconds into the first period and kept the pace up the rest of the night, scoring at will in a 19-3 evisceration of the Surrey Eagles on Saturday at the Cominco Arena.
“In a game you always want to feel comfortable, where you know you have two points wrapped up, but once it gets to a point where you’re embarrassing the other team, it’s not enjoyable,” said Smoke Eater head coach and GM Cam Keith.
Josh Laframboise and captain Connor Brown-Maloski each had six-point nights for the Smoke Eaters with Laframboise netting a hat trick in the first period on his way to four goals and two assists while CBM pitched in with a career high four assists to go with a pair of goals.
Trail’s Blaine Caton opened the scoring off a feed from Spencer McLean a dozen seconds in, and Josh Laframboise scored shorthanded at the 51 second mark to take a 2-0 lead before Surrey cut the lead to one on a Darius Davidson goal. But the Smokies offence exploded after that and, much like a train wreck, Smoke Eater fans just couldn’t look away.
Trail led 7-2 after one period and 12-3 after two, before the Eagles goalie tandem effectively surrendered and allowed seven goals on 13 shots in the third period. In order to keep the game in check, the Smokies coach gave ample ice-time to the third and fourth lines in the final frame, but every second shot eluded the Eagles’ netminders.
“We played more of our fourth and third lines, gave ice time to the guys that don’t normally play in those situations,” said Keith. “You still have to play the game the right way. Considering you are playing Surrey on Thursday, you don’t want to let up and get bad habits leading into another game.”
The game was a bounce-back effort for the Smoke Eaters after losing 6-3 to the Langley Rivermen on Friday, and facing a fatigued Eagles team that was playing their third game in as many days.
“They (Surrey) still played hard and created chances,” said Keith, as the Eagles fired 31 shots at Smokies goalie Linden Marshall. “Linden played well and made some big saves. We just capitalized on pretty much every single grade-A opportunity that we had.”
Luke Santerno added three goals and an assist for Trail, Troy Ring had a goal and four assists, while Korbyn Chabot scored his first two goals as a Smoke Eater and added an assist. Rounding out the scoring for Trail were Ross Armour and Mitch Barker with a pair each, and Kale Howarth, Blaine Caton, and Andre Ghantous with singles.
Marshall, who committed to RPI last week, earned the win stopping 28 shots, while Trail fired 41 at the Surrey tandem of Daniel Davidson and Lucas Shaw. Trail went 1-for-6 on the power play but tallied four shorthanded goals, while Langley was 2-for-8. Laframboise was the game’s first star, with Santerno and Brown-Maloski earning second and third-star honours.
The victory came a night after the Smoke Eaters went into the third period with Langley tied at 3-3 and despite outshooting the Rivermen 19-6 in the final frame, they were unable to score, and fell 6-3.
Armour opened the scoring for the Smokies at 7:10, but goals from Cooper Leitch, a former Smoke Eater, John Schuldt and Brendan Rudy gave the Rivermen a 3-1 lead. Goals from Caton and Ghantous tied it to send it to the final frame deadlocked at 3-3, but McKay Flanagan scored for Langley just 40 seconds into the third to give the Rivermen a 4-3 lead. Gavin Payne netted an insurance marker at 9:57, before closing out the scoring with an empty netter with 1:20 left in regulation.
“Langley was just one of those games where we worked hard to get back to where we needed to be, but just the law of averages of hockey sunk us … We lost the game in the first 30 minutes.”
Leitch was named first star, Payne the second star, and Armour the third star for Trail. The shots on goal were even at 37, with Zach Dyment in net for Trail and Braedon Fleming for the Rivermen.
Trail will travel to Surrey on Thursday to play an Eagles team looking for payback.
“It will be a completely different team,” said Keith. “If you look at the times that they’ve played before poorly or got outshot, usually the next game or two, they rebound. They’re not as poor as a team that we saw in Trail.”
The victory is Trail’s 20th of the season and puts them in fourth place in the Interior Division standings a point behind West Kelowna, and seven back of Vernon. Following the Surrey matchup on Thursday, Trail continues on the road for games against Chilliwack, Friday, and Coquitlam on Saturday.
Smoke Signals:Smoke Eaters forward Ryan Murphy is out for the rest of the season with a lower-body injury. The 19-year-old Orono, Minn. native played in 36 games with Trail scoring three goals and nine points, and played his last game on Dec. 17 against Vernon.