A hat trick by Levi Glasman and two goals from Carter Jones lifted the Trail Smoke Eaters to a 7-5 victory over the Wenatchee Wild on Wednesday at the Cominco Arena.
Trail’s two-points against Wenatchee was a very different game than the defensive gem they iced in the 4-1 win over the Penticton Vees on Saturday, but no less effective.
“It was a bit of a roller coaster, as far as we were dominating, then we got in penalty trouble, and they got some momentum off of it, and we got on our heels a bit,” said Smoke Eater coach and GM Cam Keith. “Wenatchee is the kind of team you can’t really give any momentum too, so it’s another learning experience for us in that we have to be a bit smart about how we’re playing when we have the lead.”
Glasman’s third goal and first BCHL hat trick proved to be the winner eight minutes into the third period. Ross Armour fed Kale Howarth in the high slot and his hard shot missed the net, but bounced off the backboards to the right post, where Glasman batted it out of the air and over the shoulder of Wild goalie Austin Park for a 6-3 lead.
“It was a funny bounce, and it just happened to work out,” said Glasman. “I was actually scared they might call it a high-stick but it was under the bar so it was alright.”
The 18-year-old Red Deer native’s first hat trick gives him nine goals on the season, and 23 points to sit in eighth overall in league scoring.
“It (the hat trick) is exciting, definitely good to get the two points against a tough team tonight,” said Glasman. “Wenatchee is pretty good and this win separates us decently from them now. But I’ll definitely remember this night.”
Another Red Deer product, Howarth, opened the scoring when he broke down the left wing and snuck the puck through the goalies arm midway through the first period. Carter Jones made it 2-0 a minute later, as he settled a pass in the slot from Tyler Ghirardosi, looked right and fired in a low shot for his fifth goal of the season.
Wenatchee answered 13 seconds later, when August Von Ungern beat Trail goalie Brandon Wells in close. But the Smoke Eaters got two goals in the final minute by Glasman and Braedon Tuck to take a 4-1 lead heading into the middle frame.
Penalty trouble for the Smoke Eaters gave Wenatchee two power play goals by A.J. Vanderbeck and Jasper Weatherby to cut the lead to 4-3. But Glasman made it 5-3 with a minute to play in the period, tapping it in at the edge of the crease, on a nice setup from Howarth and Armour.
“It’s hard to turn off that style of play we need at home,” said Keith. “We need to play that physical style against the Wenatchees and Pentictons. We need to find ways to slow them down and make it tough for teams when they come to play in Trail.”
Trail held a 20-10 shots edge through two periods and broke it wide open in the first half of the third. Sixty-four seconds after Glasman’s winner, Jones broke down the left wing crashing the net, but still making a move while going down to slip the puck around Park and give the Smokies a 7-3 lead.
“It was just a good controlled breakout, got it up to my winger, Tyler Ghirardosi, and he made a great slip pass to me in the middle, driving to the net, and I just saw the goalie slide out and made the play.”
The assist was Ghirardosi’s third of the night, and comes on the heels of his first two-goal game. The line of Ghirardosi, Jones, and Ryan Murphy has been impressive of late, and accounted for six points in the win over the Wild.
“It’s been really good, we’ve been bonding a lot as teammates and friends and I guess it’s starting to translate onto the ice, and we’re really starting to click,” said Jones.
Rookies Ghirardosi and Jones were bitter rivals in the KIJHL the past two years, Ghirardosi with the Beaver Valley Nitehawks and Jones with the Spokane Braves, but their chemistry now is undeniable.
“We talk about it all the time, how we use to play each other and now we’re on the same line, so it’s really good,” said Jones.
Along with Glasman, Smoke Eater rookies elevated their games on Wednesday in what was a wide open, entertaining, run-and-gun style of game.
“Glasman had a great game as far as playing hard and getting to those areas,” said Keith. “Two of them were just going-to-the-net kind of goals and that’s more of his style, especially when you’re playing with Kale Howarth and Ross Armour.
“And I can’t say enough about Carter Jones, a kid who kind of came out of nowhere at the beginning of the year coming from the KIJHL. I don’t think many teams knew who he was and we were really fortunate to get him. He’s so smart, and I think he’s really buying into being in Trail and being a part of this program.”
The Wild added two more goals to make it close, but the Smokies held on for their third win in a string of four straight games against Interior Division teams.
Wenatchee outshot Trail 15-4 in the third period and 25-24 in the game. Trail was 0-for-5 on the power play, while the Wild went 2-for-8.
Glasman earned the game’s first star, Jones second star, and the Wild’s Vanderbeck was the third star. Kale Howarth with a goal and two assists was the Fortis Energy Player of the Game.
The victory launched the 13-4-1-0 Smoke Eaters into first place overall in the BCHL, tied with Vernon (12-4-0-3), but owning a game in hand. The Vipers played to a 4-4 draw with the Chilliwack Chiefs on Wednesday.
Trail hit the road for Vancouver Island Thursday, where they’ll face the Nanaimo Clippers tonight, the Cowichan Valley Capitals Saturday, and the Victoria Grizzlies on Sunday.