Trail Smoke Eaters: Seeking scoring touch

The Trail Smoke Eaters put in two gutsy efforts at home on the weekend, but goals remain an elusive commodity for the black and orange.

The Trail Smoke Eaters put in two gutsy efforts at home on the weekend, but goals remain an elusive commodity for the black and orange.

The Smokies dropped a 4-0 game to the Coquitlam Express Friday and a 3-1 match to the Merritt Centennials Sunday, but it certainly wasn’t for lack of compete level.

The Smoke Eaters outshot both the Express 39-36 and the Centennials 30-27, yet only managed a single goal in 69 shots, and three goals in its last 113.

Opposition goalies were named first star in each of the past two games, as the team struggles to find its range.

“I wouldn’t change a thing on how we’re playing,” said Birks. “We just can’t score, but our D-zone, our goaltending, our PK, our transition, our forecheck, our cycle, everything is good, we’re not changing nothing.”

Indeed, the Smokies forced numerous Cents’ turnovers on Sunday, but were either foiled by goaltender Tyler Steel or the shot was blocked or fired wide.

“I just think there’s been no lucky bounces,” said forward Ryan Edwards. “We outshot Coquitlam on Friday and outplayed them, but there were just no lucky breaks for us.”

It wasn’t until Connor Collet snapped a quick shot top corner with under four minutes left in regulation that the Smokies got on the board.

“We just have to keep pounding . . . right now we can’t score, but once the flood gates open I’m sure we’re going to fill the net, you just have to battle through adversity and this is where we are,” said Birks. “Top to bottom our four lines and six D are playing excellent, we just have to find a way to score.”

The Cents’ Scott Patterson opened the scoring knocking in a rebound after goalie Lyndon Stanwood made a nice pad save.

Kevin Lohan made it 2-0 in the second, slapping a shot from the point past a screened Stanwood.

The Cents Sean Maktaak neatly finished a 2-on-1, tapping in a Regan Soquila pass into the open net, before Collet responded in the third.

The Smokies travel to Vancouver Island next weekend to take on the Victoria Grizzlies, Cowichan Capitals, and Surrey Eagles before returning home.