Some nights the puck just won’t go in.
The Trail Smoke Eaters had a night of near misses and ran into red-hot rookie goaltender Owen Bresson, who made 34 saves, leading the Victoria Grizzlies to a 3-0 Friday night win at Cominco Arena.
The Smoke Eaters dominated early against the defensively determined visitors, with pressure produced by a strong forecheck.
The momentum shifted when a shot from the right-wing boards into traffic in front of the Trail net somehow found its way into the goal, giving the Grizzlies a 1-0 lead on former Merritt Centennial defenceman, Ranvir Gill-Shane’s first goal of the season.
The second period saw both teams battle back and forth with chances at both ends. The Smokies swarmed at times but Bresson moved quickly across the net, stopping prime opportunities including an Adam Parson’s shot that looked labelled for the top corner.
Trail also missed a great opportunity to tie the game when they had a 5-on-3 power play for just over a minute.
The Grizzlies struck again with just over a minute remaining in the second period, when Elliot Dutil jammed in a loose puck after Smokies goalie Teagan Kendrick made a great save on a power move to the net by Malcomb Green and a rebound that went off the post.
The Grizzlies extended the lead to 3-0 early in the third period after a turnover at the Trail blueline, which led to the goalmouth scramble that produced Jacksenn Hungle’s goal.
The Smoke Eaters battled through the Grizzlies neutral zone trap and tight defensive zone play to create a few chances, but couldn’t solve Bresson.
The Grizzlies outshot Trail 45-34 and killed off four Smokies power plays. Trail killed off both Victoria advantages and have suppressed twenty straight opposition power plays.
The Smoke Eaters will be without three 20-year-old forwards for their Saturday night showdown with Vernon.
Ethan Mann is suffering from a lower body ailment and joins Adam Marshall and Max Potvin in the Smokies MASH unit.
The Vipers are coming off Wednesday night’s 2-0 win in Salmon Arm, prompted by goalie Ethan David’s 39-save performance.
The win extended the Vipers lead over Trail to five points in the race for fourth in the Interior Conference.
A highly competitive season series has seen Trail take a 3-2 overtime victory in Vernon and a 5-2 home ice decision before Christmas. The Vipers prevailed 3-2 in a hard fought contest in Vernon earlier this month.
Game time at Cominco Arena is 7 o’clock and tickets are still available at Tickets.TrailSmokeEaters.com.