The Trail Smoke Eaters dropped a pair of road games with a close 4-3 loss to Victoria Friday and a 9-5 defensive collapse against Cowichan Valley Capitals the next night.
The Capitals exploded for five goals in the second period, sending recent goaltending acquisition Adam Todd to the showers for Lyndon Stanwood midway through the period. While Todd floundered at times, he did show promise, making some great saves early to preserve a one-goal deficit, as the Smokies headed into the second down 2-1.
The Smokies were shorthanded on the back end with only five regulars in the lineup, but were careless in their own end, with too many give aways and missed assignments, resulting in numerous unchallenged opportunities for the Caps.
Cowichan’s Ryan Hanes had an epic five-point night with a goal and four assists, while Teal Burns netted a hat trick and an assist for Cowichan.
Offensively, it was Trail’s best output of the season, led by Brent Baltus who notched his third goal in two nights, and Luke Sandler had a goal and an assist for the Smokies. Garrett McMullen started it off in the first, while Adam Wheeldon scored on a breakaway and Shane Poulsen finished it off with a shot off the post that beat newly acquired goaltender Connor LaCouvee, who stopped 38 of 43 shots.
The Smokies outshot the Capitals, 43-35, but for whatever reason, former Smoke Eater coach Jim Ingram has Trail’s number. It’s the third win in a row for the Capitals over the Smokies including an 8-1 drubbing at the showcase opening in Chilliwack to start the season. Cowichan has outscored Trail 24-7 in the three games since Ingram took over behind the Caps’ bench.
In Victoria, special guest and former Smoke Eater Harry Smith dropped in to drop the ceremonial puck at the Bear Mountain Arena that saw Trail face the the Grizzlies. Smith was part of the senior Smokies team that won gold as the Canadian representatives at the world championships in Geneva in 1961. Smith would follow that up with numerous appearances for Canada at the World Championship in the 50’s and 60’s and was named to the allstar team on three separate occasions.
As for the game, the Grizzlies and Smoke Eaters were knotted 3-3 late in the third when captain Zach Urban’s power-play goal won it for the Grizz.
The Smokies jumped out to a 2-1 lead on a pair of goals by Baltus, but the Griz’s Gerry Fitzgerald notched two in the second to go up 3-2 before Luke Sandler tied it again for Trail before Urban decided it in the third. Stanwood stopped 32 of 36 shots in net for Trail, while Brady Rouleau kicked out 21 of 24 for the Grizzlies.
Trail also played the Surrey Eagles on Sunday but scores were unavailable at press time.
Check the Tuesday Trail Times for more on the Smoke Eaters.