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Game Report

The Trail Smoke Eaters season came to an end with Friday night’s 6-2 loss in Vernon.

Again, it was a stellar performance by Vipers goaltender Ethan David that provided the foundation.

He turned aside 38 shots, including a glove save on Adam Marshall, who looked poised to backhand in his own rebound from close range at a crucial time in the second period and made a similar stop off Lucas Lemieux in the middle frame.

David’s 14 saves in the third period included a pair of cross-crease scrambles, including one when Nathan Dominici looked like he had an open net on a rebound.

Trail opened the scoring just past the six-minute mark of the first period when Max Potvin put a shot in off the far post, right off the face-off.

The Smokies were unable to extend the lead despite a pair of two-on-one breaks, including a back door pass from Gryphon Bucci that was just a shade behind Dominici. The Smokies were also unsuccessful during their lone power play of the game.

The Vipers tied it about seven minutes after Potvin scored, when Carson McGinley deflected a Lukas McCloskey shot from the point and the Vipers took the lead in the final minute of the opening period.

Luke Pakulak swept in a loose puck on a goalmouth scramble during a Vernon power play with 16 seconds left on the clock.

The Vipers added another two goals early in the second period.

Moments after Smokies rookie Chase Stefanek hit the goal post, Hank Cleaves cruised across the hash marks and hit the far-side top corner of the net.

Shortly after David robbed Marshall, Owen Kim deflected in a cross-crease pass on the rush from close range to make it 4-1.

Smokies rookie goalie Ryan Parker was then replaced by Teagan Kendrick who was solid in relief.

Lemieux pulled the Smokies to within a pair with just over three minutes left in the second period, converting a Jason Stefanek feed during a four-on-four situation, but the Vipers, who started the third period on the power play, struck again.

Luke Bibby deflected a point shot past Kendrick just 40-seconds into the period. Kendrick argued Bibby’s stick was above his shoulders, but the officials disagreed.

Owen Kim tapped in an Isaac Tremblay pass about eight minutes later to wrap up the scoring. Tremblay finished the game with four assists.

Trail outshot the Vipers 40-39 in front of about 50 enthusiastic Smoke Eaters fans, many of whom rode a fan bus to Vernon.

The Smoke Eaters battled through injuries to key players through the season, including the second half.

Trail finished the regular season on a three-game winning streak, putting together a second half record of 16-8.

The injuries meant more quality ice time for younger players like Chase Stefanek, who emerged as a top-six forward and now looks forward to a possible selection in the NHL draft.

The Smokies also have quality recruits coming to Trail next season, like Cash Carter of St. Albert, AB who scored in his Smoke Eaters debut.

He appears poised to make an impact, along with his cousin and defenseman, Cohen Carter.

West Vancouver’s Deacon Drummond was leading the U18 CSSHL in scoring when he committed to play in Trail next season.

They will be among the prospects and veterans who will gather at training camp next fall.

Before that, the Trail Smoke Eaters are hosting their Spring ID Camp this coming weekend (April 19-21) at Cominco Arena in Trail.

Coaching, scouting and hockey operations staff will be conducting player evaluations throughout the 3 day camp. Top players have a chance to be invited to future Trail Smoke Eaters camps and possibly earn a roster spot on our premiere Junior hockey team in the Interior Division of the BCHL – where the most NCAA Scholarships are awarded!

If you are interested in Junior Hockey or a future in College Hockey, you will not want to miss this opportunity to get ice time in front of Trail Smoke Eaters Junior Hockey Team.

Players are guaranteed 4 ice sessions, goalie session, & exit interview with hockey operations staff. Limited space is available and interested players can CLICK HERE for more information or to secure their spot.