The playoff window has all but closed for the Trail Smoke Eaters who ended a three-game road trip to the coast with a 5-2 loss to Coquitlam Express on Sunday.
The Smokies managed just one point over the three games in an 8-7 overtime setback to the Chilliwack Chiefs on Friday, followed by a 4-3 defeat to the Langley Rivermen on Saturday.
Trail missed a prime opportunity to make up ground on the West Kelowna Warriors and Merritt Centennials who went winless on the weekend.
On Sunday, the Express rolled to a 5-0 third-period lead, before Trail would find the scoreboard with goals coming from Jake Lucchini and Jordan Passmore. Former Smokie Brendan Lamont scored a goal and added an assist on what proved to be the winning goal by Corey Mackin at 15:43 of the middle frame.
Trail outshot the Express 41-27 but could not beat the game’s first star, goaltender Chris Tai, who stymied a concerted Smokies attack until Lucchini’s marker 6:16 into the third.
Coquitlam’s Thanvir Bandesha scored the only goal of the first period despite Trail’s 18-7 edge in shots, and would net three more in the third on goals from Lamont, Mackin, and Brett Supinski. Mackin would score his league-leading 41st goal to make it 5-0 on the power play five minutes into the third to round out the scoring for the Express.
The Smokies deserved better on Saturday against the Rivermen as well, as they dominated play but came up short on the scoreboard. Trail outshot Langley 38-28 but were foiled by a hot goalie and missed opportunities.
Lucchini scored twice and Cooper Leitch added the other marker for Trail, as a third-period comeback came up short. The Rivermen went into the third period with a 4-2 lead with two goals from Marcus Vela and singles from Colton Kehler and Gage Torrel. Leitch would put Trail within one with 1:36 remaining but Trail could not find the equalizer.
Friday’s game started well but a disastrous third period allowed Chilliwack to comeback from a 7-4 deficit, scoring three times in the final seven minutes to tie it and win the game in overtime. Chilliwack pulled its goalie with over five minutes remaining to draw within one and Craig Puffer would score with 27 seconds left on the clock to force OT. Tipper Higgins ended it 1:23 into OT to complete the improbable comeback.
Jake Hand scored two goals and added three assists for the Chiefs, while Lucchini and Craig Martin each had four-point nights with two goals and two assists. Chilliwack outshot Trail 49-33.
Trail’s next game goes Friday at home against the Penticton Vees at 7:30 p.m.