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The Trail Smoke Eaters gave up three goals in the second period and could not orchestrate their patented comeback against Nanaimo Clippers Sunday losing at home 4-1.
Following a 4-3 overtime win against West Kelowna Friday, and coming close to coming back against Vernon in a 4-3 loss Saturday night, Trail was looking to get back to its winning ways Sunday but Nanaimo had other plans.
Trail is riddled with injury, with five regulars out including leading scorer Brent Baltus. His line mate Scott Davidson was also injured in the first period against Nanaimo and did not return to the game. Despite being short handed, the Smokies outchanced the Clippers in the first period but were held off the board by a cross bar on a Garrett McMullen shot and some good goaltending by Nanaimo stopper Jayson Argu.
The Clippers opened the scoring on a shorthanded goal when Brenan Taylor stripped the Smokies defenceman of the puck and fired a pass to Greg Fraser who banged it by AP Jordan Gluck in the Smokies’ net.
Tanner Burns put the Clippers up 2-0 finding the loose puck on a scramble in front of Gluck and shoveling it home. Austin Dick’s power play goal at 14:15 of the middle frame made it 3-0 as Nanaimo outshot the Smokies 13-6 in the period.
Smoke Eaters’ power play struggled all night, as they failed to sustain any pressure or control in the opponents end especially during the four-minute PP in the second when Taylor scored.
The Smoke Eater finally got on the board in the third, when Riley McDougall notched his first of the season, taking a pass in the slot from Adam Wheeldon, picking up his own rebound and roofing it to make the score 3-1.
Unfortunatly, that would be as close as they’d get, as Greg Fraser sealed it with the empty netter with one second to play on the clock. Gluck of the Castlegar Rebels of the KIJHL was solid in the Smokies goal stopping 31 shots.
The Smokies play their final game of 2012 against the Merritt Centennials Tuesday at the Cominco Arena in what is shaping up to be a must win Interior division game. While the Smokies currently hold onto fourth spot in the division, all the teams have games in hand, which can change the complexion of the division significantly. Trail has played 36 games while Merritt and West Kelowna have played just 29, and Salmon Arm and Vernon 33. Division leaders Penticton has played 32 games.