A pair of goals from Adam Marshall and a first star performance from Keegan Maddocks in goal lifted the Trail Smoke Eaters to a 4-2 win over the West Kelowna Warriors, Saturday at the Trail Memorial Centre.
The win comes just a day after Trail defeated the Centennials 2-1 in Merritt in a thrilling eight man shootout.
“Five games in a row in points, and four in a row in terms of wins,” said Smoke Eaters coach and GM Tim Fragle. “I think we are playing a better team-game, we’re playing better defensively and we have more consistent goaltending. That covers up a lot of things we maybe struggled with earlier.”
Ethan Mann’s first goal as a Smoke Eater turned out to be the game winner. Mann, who came to Trail from the Penticton Vees in a trade for Quinn Disher on Nov. 29, scored a power play goal just 17 seconds into the first period to give Trail a 3-0 lead.
Trail didn’t waste any time converting on the penalty to Warriors’ Dylan Brooks, who was sent off for interference seven seconds into the second period. West Kelowna goalie Angelo Zol made a pad save on a point shot, but the rebound went right to Nic Remissong, who quickly fed Mann and he fired it in for his third goal and 12th point of the campaign.
“He (Mann) is fitting in really well,” said Fragle. “Part of the appeal to grab him was the championship experience that he has. He has really good composure in his game, and I really trust him late in the game. These one-goal games we’ve been in, he’s been exceptional.”
Trail fans had barely settled in their seats, when Trail’s first goal prompted a cascade of winter wear on “Drop the gloves and Sock it to ‘em night.”
Rather than the traditional Teddy Bear Toss, Smoke Eater fans were asked to bring warm winter mitts, gloves, toques and scarves to toss on the ice after the Smoke Eaters first goal.
Forward Adam Marshall scored 69 seconds into the opening frame, picking up and putting in a rebound off a Mathieu Cobetto-Roy drive to the net.
Three minutes later, Brady Hunter broke in all alone but was stopped by Zol. Hunter gathered the rebound and fed Remissong in front for his 10th goal of the season and a 2-0 lead.
The Warriors finally beat Maddocks with 17 seconds remaining in the second, when Rylee Hlusiak drove to the net and lifted a shot over the glove of the Trail goalie to cut the lead to 3-1 heading into period three. West K outshot Trail 18-9 in the period but Maddocks, a Langley product, came up big for Trail.
The Warriors cut the lead to one with a power play goal by Brooks with 7:40 remaining in regulation, but an empty net goal by Marshall with 47 seconds left sealed the win for the Smoke Eaters.
“Finding a way to not give up that next one was key,” said Fragle. “We had three or four good chances to make it four or five, I thought, and we didn’t capitalize and we let a good team hang around, but I’m glad we stepped up.”
West Kelowna outshot Trail 38-30, with each team going 1-for-3 on the power play.
Maddocks earned the first star for Trail, Remissong second, and Marshall third star. Mann was named the Energy Player of the Game.
On Friday, Smoke Eaters goalie Teagan Kendrick was the difference in the win, stopping 38 shots and seven of eight in a shootout for the 2-1 victory.
Cobetto-Roy scored a power play goal at 14:48 of the first period for the lead, but Merritt tied it with 5:44 remaining in the third period to send it to OT.
Trail outshot the Cents 6-3 in the extra frame, but Johnny Hicks was also excellent in the Merritt net. Trail shooter Josh Schenk scored on the first try, but Merritt’s third shooter Jaxson Murray beat Kendrick to force sudden death. The goalies went save for save until Ridge Dawson ended it with a slick move on Murray for the 2-1 win.
Merritt outshot Trail 39-35, but the Smoke Eaters went 1-for-4 on the power play, and 5-for-5 on the penalty kill.
As Trail heads into its final weekend of home games before the Christmas break, the team is relatively healthy with Connor Seeley out with injury, and Trail product Judah Makway also questionable after getting injured in Saturday’s match.
With the wins, Trail’s record improves to 12-11-1-2. They currently occupy seventh spot in the Interior Conference, but are certainly in the mix, only six points behind the third place West Kelowna Warriors.
The Smoke Eaters recent win streak in the Interior Conference is a positive, but as they approach the half-way mark of the season, Fragle recognizes there is a long and difficult road ahead.
“I think if you look at our whole division if we can get home ice in the first round, that is a deal breaker for us. We want to shoot for and be in the upper echelons of our division, so satisfied, yes, but not super happy because there is still a lot of work.”
In other action, the Cranbrook Bucks handed the Penticton Vees their second straight loss with a 4-1 victory. The Vees suffered their first loss of the season the previous night in a 2-1 Wenatchee Wild win.
Trail is at home this weekend, with a Friday night game against the Merritt Centennials and a Saturday match versus the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. The puck drops at 7 p.m.