The Smoke Eaters scored a season-high 5 goals, but were denied points by a Caps squad whose goal-scoring methodology ranged from the sublime to the bizarre.
Cowichan's Matt Grant opened proceedings 1:05 in with a wrister from the slot, before Trail captain banged home his own rebound 3:33 later for his first goal in nine games.
The Caps would take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission after Mikael Jung put home his own rebound on a power-play with 2:08 left.
The home side exploded for five goals in the second, as Burns beat starter Adam Todd for his first as a Capital. Trail would answer back and level the score with a pair of goals in a 14-second span courtesy of a Brent Baltus breakaway and Adam Wheeldon, before Burns completed his hat-trick with two of his own, chasing Todd in favor of Lyndon Stanwood.
It took all of 32 seconds for Cowichan to solve Stanwood on a tic-tac-toe passing play that found Grant at the side of the goal for his second. Hanes would score his only goal of the night short-handed at 16:37, floating a shot off a Trail stick, over Stanwood's head, and in before Shane Poulsen put a point shot post-and-in on the same power-play.
Jarrett Brown and former Cap Luke Sandler would trade third-period goals (Sandler's on a 5-on-3) before Hayden Berra picked a Smokie defenseman's pocket and snapped home the Capitals' 9th of the game.
The Smokies were good offensively tonight, tallying a season high 5 times and outshooting Cowichan Valley 43-35 on the night. The defensive zone was altogether a different story, as the Capitals had simply too much time to control the puck in the Trail zone, coverages were missed, and rebounds and clearing attempts were flailed at with little success.
Trail only had five regular defensemen in the lineup with Oceanside Generals (VIJHL) blueliner Chandler Bruyckere pressed into AP duty. He will likely be back in tomorrow.
Todd struggled at times in his Smokies debut, but did make a number of highlight saves, including a pair of larcenies off Keyler Bruce and Adam Smith from point-blank range in the first period. He and Stanwood didn't get much help, though, as Trail surrendered 7 or more goals to the Capitals for the third consecutive meeting, and pushed their winless skid at "The Stick" past the decade mark.
Tomorrow, in Surrey, it's a new day, and I'd expect this group to be positively famished for points in a building (South Surrey Arena) that has yielded happy results each of the last four years.
My Three Stars:
1. Ryan Hanes, Cowichan Valley
2. Teal Burns, Cowichan Valley
3. Matt Grant, Cowichan Valley
Up Next: The Smokies wrap up the trip Sunday in Surrey. Game time is 4:00.
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