A night after just about everything went right for the Smoke Eaters, it just about all went wrong Saturday in a 6-1 loss to West Kelowna at Cominco Arena.
Trail surrendered two goals in each period, and found themselves behind the 8-ball early as the Warriors, despite being outshot, took full advantage of their offensive opportunities to earn their first win at Cominco Arena in three tries this season.
Warriors captain Max French twice before the game was 5-and-a-half minutes old; the first on a feed from behind the net that went through the legs of Trail starter Lyndon Stanwood, the second on a power-play rebound that saw him positioned at the side of the net with a gaping cage with which to insert the puck.
The second period started similarly, as West Kelowna took a 3-0 lead thanks to David Pope. Linemate Seb Lloyd won a battle in the left-wing corner and fed a pass to Pope, who made no mistake on his tenth goal of the season. The marker spelled the end of the night for Stanwood, who was replaced by Adam Todd.
The Warriors would score their fourth, and prettiest goal of the night later in the period on a three-on-one that was finished off by Marcus Basara from the right circle, with Lloyd and French drawing assists on a tic-tac-toe play.
Ben Tegtmeyer's wrister 6:23 into the third made it 5-0 Warriors, before Mitch Foyle put Trail on the board shortly before the midway mark of period three. Foyle redirected Garrett McMullen's left-wing wrister for his fourth goal of the season, and fourth point of the weekend.
Devon Hascarl provided further insurance in the final minute with a wrist shot that glanced off Todd's catching mitt and in.
The Warriors won despite being outshot, and goaltender Steven Myland was, in a word, terrific, making 30 saves to earn his first victory with West Kelowna after recently spending time in the WHL with the Swift Current Broncos. Trail generated plenty of offensive opportunities off the rush and through turnovers in the Warriors zone, but were parried either by Myland or swift-closing checkers.
It was a frustrating night for Trail, and the near-thousand fans who took the game in, maybe most evident at the start of the third period when no fewer than four Smoke Eaters found themselves in the penalty box after a skirmish at the end of period two.
The Smokies remain level on points with Salmon Arm and hold a share of the fourth seed in the Interior division. Salmon Arm plays Sunday at home against Powell River ahead of a crucial home-and-home set with the Smoke Eaters that begins Friday in the Shuswap.
My Three Stars:
1. Max French, West Kelowna
2. Steven Myland, West Kelowna
3. Seb Lloyd, West Kelowna
Up Next: Trail visits Salmon Arm Friday night to kick off a home-and-home series with the SilverBacks. Four of Trail's next five games are away from home.