The Penticton Vees scored early and often en route to a 9-1 victory over the Smokies at the South Okanagan Events Centre tonight.
Former Trail forward Travis St. Denis scored twice (including the eventual game-winner), and added two assists as the Vees put up a nine-spot for the second consecutive evening (they defeated Prince George 9-2 Friday).
Steven Fogarty, Mike Reilly, Kyle Beaulieu, Mario Lucia, Cody DePourcq, Grant Nicholson and Troy Stecher also tallied for Penticton, while Clayton Chessa's fifth goal in as many games as a Smoke Eater provided Trail's only reply.
Penticton scored 4 times on the powerplay, and looking back I'm hard-pressed to think of a goal tonight that wasn't well-taken. The Vees' three NHL draft picks; Lucia, Mike Reilly and Fogarty, showed why the Wild, Blue Jackets and Rangers all invested selections with relentless offensive skill that saw the Smokies outshot 44-17 on the night.
Matt Larose was replaced by Reed Vogt after the fifth Penticton goal (the second by St. Denis), which the Trail product tapped in after a pair of one-time, cross-ice passes from Lucia and Connor Reilly. I talked to St. Denis after the game about his new linemates, and the nineteen year-old had nothing but good things to say about their talent level.
For the Smokies, the best thing perhaps is that they've now seen the high-flying Vees at their best, and know what to expect from Penticton over the course of the season. The loss certainly stings, but to me the Smokies were level with Penticton for the first twenty minutes, until penalties and a widening gap in the scoreline took their toll.
Needless to say, next week's home and home series with Salmon Arm is huge for the club, and I'm sure each body in the dressing room would like to see a raucous home crowd for the first half of the double-header on Friday (7:30 PM, Cominco Arena).
Did You See: After serving a four-minute penalty for spearing, Trail's Adam Boytinck quietly slipped behind the Penticton defense 6 minutes into the second period. He received a long-bomb pass and smartly straddled the line only to be foiled on the breakaway.
Up Next: It's just been mentioned, but it's worth mentioning again. A crucial early-season home and home with the Silverbacks Friday in Trail, Saturday in Salmon Arm.
We All Scream for Ustream: Tonight marked the maiden voyage for the Smokies on Ustream. It certainly wasn't without its hiccups, but it's a start. I hope, despite the scoreline, that those of you who tuned in enjoyed the broadcast tonight, and for those of you who missed it, I'll be sure to publicize its availability in advance of the next broadcasted away game (which happens to be Saturday in Salmon Arm).
KIJHL: The Osoyoos Coyotes spoiled Castlegar's chance at revenge tonight, with a 4-3 victory over the Rebels at the Complex. It was of course Osoyoos who defeated Castlegar in last year's KIJHL finals. Nelson outgunned Creston Valley 6-5 at the NDCC (Dallon Stoddart scored twice including the winner 13 minutes into the third period). Beaver Valley defeated Grand Forks 11-3.
Late From Friday: Caleb Georgetti scored three times, but it was Okanagan College over Selkirk 5-3 in the BCIHL opener. Former Nitehawk Layne Stopanski scored twice for OC.
Local Looksee: Congrats to Nelson's Dryden Hunt for tallying his first WHL point tonight. Hunt had an assist in the Regina Pats' 4-1 victory at Lethbridge.