It was a hard fought and closely contested game for forty minutes, as very little separated the Smoke Eaters and the Bucks, but a strong third period surge by Cranbrook decided the game.
Albeit a preseason battle, the Smoke Eaters and Bucks renewed their Kootenay rivalry on Friday night at Cominco in front of close to 1000 fans who took in the action. The game started in a flurry as the Bucks and Smoke Eaters traded goals inside the opening four minutes. Cranbrook opened the scoring as Ethan Sundar kept the puck on a 2-on-1 and beat Cole Tisdale on the short side. It took just over a minute for the Smoke Eaters to answer and it was Quinn Disher who added his fifth of the preseason as he tracked the puck down behind the net, forced it out front and off a Cranbrook stick and into the net for 1-1.
The Bucks however, like the Smoke Eaters, answered back as Kellan Hjartarson restored the Bucks lead moments later. A few chances either side were had as the game settled down for the rest of the first but it was the Bucks who took a 2-1 lead into the break.
The Smoke Eaters started quickly and for the most part kept that pressure up for most of the second despite a few odd man rushes against them in the middle frame. Trail tied it up on a Ethan Willoughby wrist shot 3 minutes into the second period as the Smoke Eater #5 pinched in from the blueline on the left side of the ice and took a quick shot that flew past Carter Capton in the Cranbrook net.
The Bucks almost had their go ahead goal prior to the media timeout as the Bucks penalty expired, Hjartarson was sprung free on a break, but he would be denied on a spectacular save by Tisdale.
Cranbrook would however score late in the second period to take a 3-2 lead into the second intermission. In the third the Smoke Eaters wasted no time tying the games as the line of Mathieu Cobetto-Roy, Jack Kurrle and Nic Remissong combined for the tying goal just 14 seconds in.
It was downhill from that point however from a Smoke Eaters perspective as the Bucks forced turnovers and made the Smoke Eaters pay for those turnovers in goals. the Bucks would score four unanswered in the third en-route to a 7-3 win on the road. The Smoke Eaters played a solid game for 40 minutes but a few errors cost them the game in the third, something they’ll look to correct in their preseason finale in Cranbrook on Saturday night.