In their first game in almost three years without coach and GM Nick Deschenes at the helm, the Smoke Eaters put in a gutsy effort but came up short in the end in a 5-2 loss against the Penticton Vees on Saturday in Penticton.
Skating against one of the best teams in the nation, the Smoke Eaters led twice in the game before allowing three goals in the third period to lose its seventh straight to Penticton this season.
The Vees didn’t have a lead in the game until 5:13 into the final frame when Scott Conway put the Vees ahead 3-2 with a backhanded shot past Bailey MacBurnie for his 52nd of the season.
Power plays were a factor for both teams with five goals scored; two of them by the visiting side, while the Vees were a perfect 3-for-3.
Trail opened the scoring when Ross Armour netted his 10th of the season, beating Zach Drischoll high on his blocker side at 16:22 of the first. Two minutes later, Tyson Jost corralled a rebound and fired it past MacBurnie, who tried to snag it with his glove.
In the second period, the Smoke Eaters thought they were headed into the dressing room with a lead. Armour faked taking the puck behind the Vees goal and passed it out front with the puck bouncing off the side of the net allowing Connor Brown-Maloski to tap it past Driscoll at 18:15. But with four seconds remaining in the period, Dante Fabbro, the game’s first star, fired a shot that changed direction a few times before beating MacBurnie.
In the third period, leading 3-2, Fabbro added his second of the night, firing a shot from the point for his 15th of the season. The Vees’ final goal came with the cage empt as Jost sprung Easton Brodzinski, who fooled a Smoke Eater player to head towards the empty goal and bury his 28th tally.
MacBurnie, the third star, finished with 33 saves in a strong outing as he denied the Vees on a few good chances, while Driscoll finished with 17 saves.