By Jim Bailey, Trail Times
Freshly acquired goaltender Adam Marcoux won his first game in his first start as a Trail Smoke Eater and Carter Jones netted his first BCHL hat trick, including the game winner, in a 5-3 road victory over the West Kelowna Warriors on Saturday.
Jones notched his 10th of the season on an incredible effort while shorthanded to break the Smoke Eaters six game losing streak. The Spokane native stole the puck in the Warriors zone at 14:05 of the second period, executed a slick toe-drag and spin-o-rama then walked out from the left corner and out-waited goaltender Nik Amundrud for a 4-2 Smokies lead.
The Smokies 20th win marked a welcome return to the Trail line up for Smokies forwards Blaine Caton and Braeden Tuck, who also scored twice in his first game back since an injury sidelined the Calgary native on Nov. 6. The win also ended a losing slide that saw the Smokies tumble from top spot in the Interior Division to fourth place.
The Warriors Lucas Cullen opened the scoring at the six minute mark of the first period on the power play, banging in a rebound off a point shot from Jake Harrison for a 1-0 lead. But Jones tied it just 23 seconds later when he took a pass from Tyler Ghirardosi at the top of the slot and wired a shot over the blocker of Amundrud to tie it.
The Warriors went up 2-1 before the period was out on another man-advantage tally, when Jared Marino redirected a point shot past Marcoux with 5:55 to play in the first stanza.
Strong special-teams play continued to pay dividends for the Smokies in the second period as Tuck scored his first of the match just 45 seconds in, shovelling in the rebound off the right pad of Amundrud on a Jeremy Lucchini point shot to even the score.
The Smokies third goal was awarded to Andre Ghantous, however, it was actually Jones who was initially stopped by the Warrior goalie on the doorstep, but was able to get his stick on the puck while falling to the ice and slide it in for a 3-2 lead at 8:55.
After Jones’ shorthanded goal gave the Smokies a two-goal lead, the Warriors drew within one with 41 seconds left in the middle frame, when Michael Lombardi lifted a rebound over Marcoux’s glove. The Warriors outshot Trail 17-10 in the second period, but the new Smokies goalie was stellar in his debut, and carried his solid play into the third.
In a more defensive third period, Trail held on and Tuck chipped the puck into an empty net with five seconds left for the 5-3 victory. The Warriors outshot Trail 36-27, with the Smokies going 2-for-4 on the power play, while West K was 2-for-5.
Jones earned the game’s first star, West Kelowna’s Marino was second star, and Lombardi third star.
Trail returns home on Tuesday for a mid-week tilt against the Merritt Centennials at 7 p.m. at the Cominco Arena.