The Trail Smoke Eaters continued their good play on Wednesday, but still could not translate a great effort into points.
The Smoke Eaters led 2-1 after two periods over the Penticton Vees Wednesday, but two third-period goals spoiled a potential road upset as the Interior division leading Vees pulled off a 3-2 victory.
Penticton forward Matt Serratore netted the game winning goal with less than five minutes remaining in regulation, when he gathered in a loose puck in the slot, faked a shot then wristed it by Smokie goalie Adam Todd.
It was the fifth win in a row for the Vees, while the Smoke Eaters suffered their eighth loss in row, and are currently 29 points back of the division leaders. With a number of new players as a result of Dec. 1 roster moves, the Smoke Eaters are working hard, but just coming up short.
“Wins and losses is what’s measured in this league, but right now where we’re at, we’re looking for compete, we’re looking for growth, individually and as a team, but I have a lot of confidence in these guys, there’s just been a lot of changes and it’s difficult,” said Smoke Eater assistant coach Craig Clare.
After a scoreless first period in which the Vees outshot the Smokies 11-7, Scott Davidson would get the Smokies on the board with a nice individual effort at 8:59 of the middle frame. Davidson blocked a shot at his own blue line and streaked in on a partial breakaway, burying a shot between Hunter Miska’s legs to go up 1-0.
Brian Basilico put the Smokies up 2-0 when Braden Pears sprung him with a long breakout pass, and the 18-year-old Michigan native beat Miska five-hole with eight minutes remaining in the period.
However, the Vees would start the comeback late in the second when Ben Dalpe intercepted a clearing pass in the high slot and wired a shot over Adam Todd’s glove with just 11 seconds left in the period.
The Vees forward Jack Ramsey then tied it when he took an Anthony Conti pass and flew down the right side, breaking to the net and back-handing it under Todd at 1:39 of the third period.
After Serratore’s goal made it 3-2, the Smokies would pull their goalie with two minutes remaining and despite a few good chances, the Vees held on for their 21st win of the season, second to only Powell River.
The Vees outshot the Smokies 16-5 in the period, and 39-20 on the night.
The Smoke Eaters travel to Vernon tonight for a shot at the Vipers, and will be on the road for their next four games until their return to the Cominco Arena versus West Kelowna Dec. 30.
“It’ll be good to go,” said Clare. “You know we’ve had lots of changes, so it might be good for us to play on the road a little bit, guys get to know each other, and maybe get a little of the pressure off us from being at home and wanting to impress; just from having new guys in the line up they can kind of go find their game so that’s what we’re hoping for, this is a learning process.”