In their first BCHL regular season meeting, it was the Cranbrook Bucks that made history, as they would win not only the first meeting between these two teams but their first win in franchise history as well. The Smoke Eaters have a lot of positives however to take away from the opening weekend despite losing both games.
The Smoke Eaters got the first goal of Sunday’s game, as Noah Wakeford was in the right place at the right time to bury a rebound at the far post after Kalen Szeto’s shot bounced its way through the crowd right to Wakeford. The Bucks would answer though four minutes later courtesy of Nathan Fox who got a fortunate bounce go his way. A shot from the blueline from Rhys Bentham deflected wide of the net of Cayden Hamming but hit the end wall just right and came to a waiting Fox who tucked it home before Hamming could come across his crease. The Bucks would then take a 2-1 lead as Noah Quinn would find a lose puck through the crowd in front of Hamming to make it 2-1 Bucks after twenty minutes.
In the second the Bucks and Smoke Eaters traded goals with the Bucks temporarily taking a two goal lead as AJ Vasko scored on the 5-on-3 powerplay for the Bucks at 13:23 of the second period. That was answered less than three minutes later as Wakeford scored his second of the night. Mitch Wilkie made a great pinch down the left wall of the Bucks zone and was able to kick the puck to Wakeford who skated to the top of the slot and let fly a wrister that went through everybody to make it 3-2.
A early third period goal restored the two goal cushion for the Bucks as Cameron Kungle’s shot from the blue line found the top corner of Hamming’s net just 25 seconds into the third to give the Bucks a 4-2 lead. From then on it was all Smoke Eaters. But the strong goaltending of Jay Thomson helped backstop the Bucks during a third period siege. Szeto scored his first goal as a Trail Smoke Eater after a good passing play with Quinn Disher and Wakeford below the goal line led to Szeto’s chance in tight for a third Smoke Eaters goal. Moments later the Smoke Eaters should have had their tying goal but a highlight reel save from Thomson denied Wakeford the hat-trick.
The Smoke Eaters continued to push, pulling the goalie for the extra attacker but couldn’t beat Thomson. The Bucks added an empty net goal from Drake Burgin to seal the victory. The Smoke Eaters and Bucks will renew acquaintances on Wednesday night at the SOEC for the Smoke Eaters next game, and their first back-to-back games of the year as they’ll play the Vees on Thursday.