The Trail Smoke Eaters nailed down their leadership group, Thursday, then wrapped up their exhibition season with a sweep of the West Kelowna Warriors on the weekend.
The Smoke Eaters named three veteran players assistants to Trail captain Philippe Lapointe; Montrose native Tyler Ghirardosi, last year’s rookie phenom Kent Johnson, and defenceman Powell Connor will wear the ‘A’ for the 2019-20 BCHL season.
“We are very fortunate to have such a strong leadership group this season,” Trail coach and GM Jeff Tambellini said in a release. “All of our Captains have earned this role because of there work ethic on the ice and professionalism off the ice. Tyler, Powell, and Kent all have different leadership styles which we believe will compliment (captain) Phillipe Lapointe.”
After a 2-1 victory in Trail on Friday, the Smoke Eaters defeated the Warriors 3-1 on Saturday to end their four-game pre-season, following a split with the Grande Prairie Storm the previous week.
Second year forward, Owen Ozar, scored the winning goal in both games, including a power-play, highlight-reel-clincher in Game 2.
Ozar moved the puck to Liam Freeborn at the point. Freeborn made a slick move around the forward, then dished to Ozar at the right dot. The Prince Albert product made a deft toe-drag around the West Kelowna defenceman and wired a shot top shelf on Warriors goalie Brock Baier to give Trail a 2-0 lead with 3:13 to play in the second period.
Despite the low score, it was a dominating win for Trail, outshooting the Warriors 37-21 on the night. The pair of two-game series showed a fast-skating, talented forward group, backed up by a strong defensive corps that plays with an edge.
Johnson opened the scoring, taking a pass from Ghirardosi behind the net, slipping the puck between his legs, then sending a backhand over the glove of Baer for a 1-0 lead with 7:37 to play in the opening frame.
West Kelowna spoiled the shutout bid by Trail goalie Logan Terness with 1:40 to play to make it 2-1, but Johnson added an empty netter 31 seconds later for insurance.
Terness was solid on the night, stopping 20 shots, while Trail special teams went 1-for-6 on the power play, and 3-for-4 on the PK.
In Game 1 on Friday in Trail, the Warriors jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, but the Smoke Eaters battled back, dominating the game in the final two periods. Freeborn finished a setup from Johnson and Ghirardosi midway through the middle frame, and Ozar tucked home the winning goal with 4:41 to play for the 2-1 final.
Donovan Buskey stopped 18 shots in the Trail net, while Johnny Derrick faced 35 for the Warriors. Trail went 1-for-6 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.
Trail opens the regular season against the Penticton Vees at home on Friday, with the puck drop at 7 p.m.