The Smoke Eaters come away with just one point on their weekend trip to Vernon, but it was the bounce back on Saturday night that left its impression, despite the 2-1 shootout loss.
Trail dropped the first game of the weekend set on Friday night to the Vipers by a 6-1 score line. Josh Schenk scored the opener on both nights. Friday he scored just after the midway point of the first, taking the pass from Brady Hunter, who knocked it away from the Vipers forward on the wall, then passed to Schenk who walked in and beat Roan Clarke for the 1-0 Smoke Eaters lead.
The Vipers would go on to score six straight unanswered between the second and third period, breaking the deadlock in the second period after the Smoke Eaters, who started the second period well, couldn’t force the puck in behind Clarke, as the Vipers would score on the powerplay to make it a 2-1 game in the second. Vernon added two more in the back half of the second taking a 4-1 lead to the third and putting the game out of reach for the Smoke Eaters. As a whole the Smoke Eaters played a solid 30-35 minutes but lost control of the games as the Vipers extended their lead.
Needing a bounce back on Saturday the Smoke Eaters, not necessarily worried about the result but more the process and the consistency in their own game and they got that. The Smoke Eaters battle the Vipers all the way to a shootout and had chances to win the game in overtime with two powerplays handed out against the Vipers. First though it was Schenk for the second consecutive night scoring the opener. Schenk and Ethan Mann combined shorthanded to get the Smoke Eaters on the board, almost exactly at the same time he had the night before. As Trail once again took the first period lead.
The Vipers would answer on a shorthanded goal of their own as Luke Pakulak found the back of the net off the rush to beat Keegan Maddocks with 5 minutes remaining in the first period. Both goaltenders would stay perfect through the next two periods and overtime with both coming up with a pai of highlight reel saves each. In the shootout, the Vipers would score the lone goal with Vipers netminder Ethan David stopping all three shooters and Hank Cleaves sneaking one past Maddocks in the second round to decide the game. The Smoke Eaters, despite being shorthanded again on the weekend played a solid and gritty 60 minutes. The Smoke Eaters will wrap up the season next weekend in Wenatchee for a weekend doubleheader against the Wild.