Trail Smoke Eaters wind up long road trip with win

The Trail Smoke Eaters netted four unanswered goals in the third period, overcoming a 4-3 deficit, to beat the Surrey Eagles 7-4

The Trail Smoke Eaters netted four unanswered goals in the third period, overcoming a 4-3 deficit, to beat the Surrey Eagles 7-4 in BCHL action on Sunday, and take 2-of-3 games on their coastal road swing.

The Smokies beat the Powell River Kings 5-2 on Friday, but fell to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Saturday 5-3, before their come-from-behind victory on Sunday.

“For the amount of travel, and the games in the time frame – it was a tough trip, probably our toughest of the year,” said Smokies coach Nick Deschenes. “Some of these players haven’t gone through that kind of trip before.”

The wins put Trail, 5-3-0-0, into a four-way tie with Merritt, Salmon Arm, and West Kelowna for third place in the Interior division with 10 points, with the Smokies enjoying a game-in-hand.

Stephen Ryan netted the winner, scoring his first goal as a Smoke Eater at 9:32 of the third period on a nice passing play from Charlie Zuccarini and Scott Davidson to  give Trail a 5-4 lead.

Zuccarini was named the game’s first star on Sunday with three assists, while Scott Davidson received third-star honours for the second game in a row. Zuccarini’s three-point game and six-point weekend lifts him into third place (7-7-14) in league scoring, while Trail’s Jake Lucchini had four-points in three games and is currently tied for fifth spot (6-6-12).

On Sunday, Davidson got the Smokies rolling opening the scoring at 7:25 of the first with assists to Zuccarini and Viktor Dombrovskiy, however, less than a minute later Chase McMurphy would beat Smokie goalie Brett Clark to tie it at one. But the Smokies would reply 91 seconds later, when Bryan Basilico and Zuccarini set up Griffyn Martin at the point to give Trail a 2-1 lead.

Surrey would score three goals in the second period, despite being outshot 21-10, to take a 4-3 lead on a pair of goals from Ben Vikich and a single from Sam Chatterley, with Lucchini counting the Smoke Eaters tally at 12:35. However, the Smokies didn’t panic and came out on fire in the third.

“Up to that point we had outplayed them, so it wasn’t like we had to change anything, we just had to keep going with what we were doing.”

Basilico tallied his third goal of the season to tie it at 5:32 of the third with assists going to Dombrovskiy and Robbie Johnson, before Ryan buried the winner. Smokie AP Hunter Atchison and Craig Martin would round out the scoring for the Smokies, with Martin scoring his fourth goal of the season shorthanded into the empty net.

Brett stopped 17 shots in his first start in goal as a Smoke Eater after sitting out with an ankle injury to start the season.

“He had a rough start to the year (with the injury) so it was important for him to get in a game, and I think he felt more comfortable as the game wore on,” said Deschenes.

In Friday’s game against Powell River, Lucchini and Sheldon Hubbard each scored twice, and were named the game’s first and second stars respectively, as the  Smoke Eaters scored a 5-2 road win over the Kings.

After Stephen Hiff opened the scoring for the home side, Lucchini and Hubbard replied for Trail in the first. Kurt Keats tied the game briefly in the second but Hubbard’s second was the winner as the former Beaver Valley Nitehawk netted his first two points as a Smoke Eater. Adam Todd made 26 saves in the Trail crease for the win.

On Saturday, Chris Schutz assisted on the game’s first goal and he later scored the game-winner to earn first star as the Bulldogs defeated the visiting Smoke Eaters 5-3.

“I think it was just a case of not us not really being prepared, and maybe underestimating them. But they played probably one of their better games of the season.”

Davidson and Basilico put the Smokies ahead briefly in the first but Josh Adkins tied it heading into the first intermission. Second-period tallies by Darian Henry and Schutz provided the offence the ‘Dogs needed. Zuccarini got Trail back within one in the third but Evan Tironese capped things off for the home side.

“To their credit they really neutralized us in all aspects . . . we went into Surrey and took that setback and turned it into a positive, and came out on top,” added Deschenes. “It was a good character test, because that’s a lot of hockey and a lot of travel, and they accomplished something pretty big, and it’s always nice to end anything on a win.”

Special teams have been key for the Smokies so far this season. Trail has the league’s best power play with 11 goals on 36 opportunities for a 30.56 per cent scoring average, their 83.78 per cent penalty kill is second overall. Martin’s short-handed empty net goal against Surrey also has the Smokies tied for second in shorthanded markers with three.

Trail’s Dallas Calvin sat out the weekend games as a result of a slight concussion suffered last week.

The Smoke Eaters return home this weekend to take on the Langley Rivermen on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Cominco Arena.