A 4-3 overtime loss to the Cranbrook Bucks may not have been the result they were looking for, but all in all, a pretty good weekend for the Trail Smoke Eaters.
Trail earned 3-of-4 points with a big 4-3 win over Salmon Arm Friday, before falling to the Cranbrook Bucks in OT Saturday.
“We are trending in the right direction,” said Smoke Eaters head coach and GM Tim Fragle. “Two or three posts there in the third period if a bounce goes our way it could have been four, but they (Cranbrook) are a good team.”
Following a Smoke Eaters rush to start the OT, the Bucks came the other way. Noah Quinn dished off to defenceman Rhys Bentham at the Trail blue line and from the left circle the Yale commit snapped a shot that snuck under the arm of Smoke Eaters goalie Teagan Kendrick just 55 seconds into the extra frame for the 4-3 victory.
With the win, the Bucks improve to 5-2-0-0 and are tied for third in the Interior Conference, while the Smoke Eaters record goes to 4-3-1-0 and trail the Bucks by just one point.
Cranbrook opened the scoring on a quick pass out front to Jack Silich who beat Kendrick high glove side with 6:38 to play in the first period.
But Trail answered two minutes later, when Mathieu Cobetto-Roy settled a pass from Jordan Hendry and wired a shot past Bucks goalie Nathan Aerie.
Trail defenceman Ethan Willoughby notched his first of the season at 2:25 of the second period. The Chilliwack product wristed a shot from the point that sailed through traffic and in for a 2-1 lead.
Midway through the period, Connor Seeley chased down an icing call that was waived off after Airey went to smother the puck but it came loose and Seeley knocked it in for a 3-1 Trail lead.
Cranbrook started the comeback before the period was out. Jarrod Smith beat Kendrick at 16:51 of the second, and Bucks forward Kellan Hjartarson tied it 1:52 into the third with a power play goal.
“I thought at time there was some momentum swings where they would hem us in and then we would get a little momentum, it was a good game back and forth,” said Fragle. “Disappointing that we gave up the lead and weren’t able to get the points.”
Trail had several chances to score the go-ahead, including one from Cobetto-Roy whose shot from the slot rang off the post with minutes remaining. The power play also struggled on Saturday, going 0-for-3 including an extra man advantage midway through the third.
“Up until tonight our power play has been pretty good, about 30 per cent, but tonight I was disappointed, we had to be better tonight. That’s the difference in the game. They got one late to tie it on the power play and we had our chance and we didn’t cash in.”
Cranbrook outshot Trail 36-34 with the Bucks foing 1-for-4 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill.
The loss ends Trail’s three-game win streak, all against Interior teams, except the Bucks. Trail is 0-2-1-0 against them this season.
“It’s totally mental. I thought that was the best we played against them in a while,” said Fragle. “Totally a mental thing.”
The Smoke Eaters came out on the thriling end of a 4-3 win on Friday night against the Silverbacks.
Trail led 3-1 in the third period, but Salmon Arm rallied to tie the game with two power play goals late in the frame.
But with 2:23 remaining in regulation, Nic Remissong finished a setup from Adam Parsons and Jordan Hendry to put the Smokies up 4-3.
It was Remissong’s second of the night and sixth of the season, with Adam Parsons and Judah Makway tallying the other Trail goals.
Trail outshot the Silverbacks 33-29 and went 1-for-2 on the power play and 1-for-4 on the PK, in another key Interior Conference match up.
“We are playing with a little more pace, we are playing quicker than we were at the start of the year, so we’re backing off teams,” said Fragle. “I thought in both games this weekend, we challenged the opposing defence pretty good, with a good forecheck, good head drives and that’s how we have to play to have success.”
Trail travels to Chilliwack for the BCHL Showcase on Tuesday with a game against Chilliwack at 2:30 p.m. and versus the Coastal Conference leading Nanaimo Clippers Wednesday at 4 p.m.
“It’ll be a lot of video tomorrow and Monday to get prepped for those two teams,” added Fragle.
“The hope is you can build, and start to get some momentum and that belief sets in.”