A bolstered Penticton Vees team ended a four game losing streak at the expense of the Trail Smoke Eaters on Wednesday, as the Smokies fell 4-2 to the Vees in a close match up at the South Okanagan Event Centre in Penticton.
Vees forward Colton Kalezic’s shorthanded goal 2:49 into the third period gave the Vees a 3-1 lead and stood up as the game winner. With Trail on the power play, Kalezic chipped the puck past the Trail defenceman in his own zone and skated in on a breakaway. The 20-year-old Northern Michigan commit went forehand-backhand lifting the puck past the blocker of Smoke Eaters goalie Logan Terness for his sixth goal of the season.
The loss was Trail’s first in regulation in 11 games, setting a franchise consecutive game winning streak record with nine, and a consecutive points record at ten. The Vees victory, meanwhile, put a stop to a four-game slide and improved their record to 12-3-1-0, while Trail falls to 9-6-2-0, tied for third place with the Wenatchee Wild.
Following a scoreless first period in which Trail outshot Penticton 10-9, a couple bad bounces put the Vees ahead 2-0. Penticton captain David Silye spun and banked one off the Trail defender for a 1-0 lead at 15:39 of the second period, and Alex DiPaolo slipped an errant shot past the glove of Terness with 3:07 to go in the period.
Trail battled back in the third, with Chase Dafoe banging in a rebound off the pad of Yaniv Perets to cut the lead to 2-1 two minutes in.
After Kalezic restored the two-goal lead, Owen Ozar cut the lead to 3-2, sniping a centering pass from Kent Johnson over the blocker of Perets at 15:41.
Trail pulled their goalie, but couldn’t find the equalizer as Vees forward Jay O’Brien scored into an empty net for the 4-2 final.
Penticton outshot Trail 38-26, with the Smoke Eaters going 1-for-5 on the power play and 6-for-6 on the penalty kill. Kalezic earned the game’s first star, while Ozar (1G, 1A) was named second star and Tristan Amonte third star.
Trail brought in Campbell River Storm goalie Knute Loe as an Affiliate Player to backup 17-year-old starter Terness on Wednesday, following the departure of goalie Donovan Buskey to the WHL’s Regina Pats. Loe was impressive at the Smoke Eaters main camp in August and was one of four goalies selected to play in the Orange vs Black game to wind up the camp.
To bolster their line up, the Vees added two former WHL players in trades prior to Wednesday’s game and a defenceman. Penticton acquired 19-year-old goalie Carl Stankowski from the Vernon Vipers, forward Tyler Ho, 19, from the Kanata Lasers of the Central Canada Hockey League, and d-man Colton Kitchen from the Nanaimo Clippers.
Kitchen was acquired out of necessity after injuries to the Vees defensive core. The 18-year-old Prince George product has 44 games of BCHL experience split between Nanaimo and the Chilliwack Chiefs, with three goals and nine points.
“With the injury that Ethan Martini sustained last weekend that has now placed him on IR, we were left with five defencemen,” Vees head coach, GM and president Fred Harbinson said in a release. “Colton has BCHL experience to round out our defence core.”
Stankowski played 24 games in the WHL, most recently with the Calgary Hitmen to start the season. In exchange for the Calgary native, the Vees sent goalie Derek Krall to the Powell River Kings for future considerations.
“These moves are more about a long-term plan rather than a reaction of a few losses,” said Harbinson. “Adding Carl Stankowski has many prongs; this allows us to give Derek Krall an opportunity to be a number one goalie in the BCHL, in turn we open an over-age spot and add a goaltender that has championship experience, which obviously will be important to us this year and next year in hosting the Centennial Cup.”
Like Stankowski, Ho began this season in the WHL with the Saskatoon Blades after spending a season and a half with the Vancouver Giants. The Surrey native played in 80 WHL games, before joining the Vipers last December where he tallied three goals and 12 points in 30 games.
Trail is back in action this weekend with a home-and-home against the West Kelowna Warriors.
The Warriors host the Smoke Eaters Friday night and are coming off two losses, a 6-0 setback to Wenatchee on Wednesday and a 5-2 loss to the Merritt Centennials on Saturday. However, the Warriors have shown they can play with the league’s top teams after defeating the Interior Division leading Salmon Arm Silverbacks 2-1 on Friday.
Trail defeated the Warriors 5-1 back on Sept. 21, but a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then. The BCHL announced on Oct. 15 that it will purchase the team from owner Kim Dobranski, after a year of turmoil off the ice more so than on it.
Trail will look for a better result Friday in West Kelowna against the 4-11-3-1 Warriors, before returning to the Cominco Arena for a night of trick-or-treating on Saturday with the puck drop at 7 p.m.
Smokies Spooktacular: Take part in a Spooky good time and wear your Halloween costume to the Smoke Eaters game Saturday night. Smokies fans can showoff their costumes during the first-intermission Halloween Costume parade down on the ice. The top-three costumes will take home a prize!