A frustrating night on the scoreboard for the Smokies, who remain 4 points out of a playoff spot after an 8-1 defeat to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs Friday in Trail.
Manny Gialedakis scored four goals, including the eventual game-winner on a late first-period power-play, while Cranbrook product Brad Rebagliati stopped 29 of 30 shots to earn his second victory of the season against the Smoke Eaters.
Gialedakis got things started early in the first period, converting on a rebound to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead less than four minutes in. But Trail would answer back through captain Garrett McMullen, who banged home a rebound of his own later in the frame to level the score.
Alberni Valley's special teams were a huge difference in Friday's game, and that difference manifested itself late in the opening period, when Gialedakis re-directed Chase Van Allen's one-timer off the left post and past Smokies netminder Lyndon Stanwood.
The Bulldogs added a short-handed goal in the opening minute of the second as Teal Burns rifled home a wrist shot from the right-wing circle on a two-on-one. Hunter Stewart put home a rebound at 10:42 of the second period to extend the lead to 4-1.
Things went from bad to worse for Trail in the third. First, on an opening-minute power-play, Gialedakis completed his hat-trick. Then, as Alberni Valley was on another power-play, a Smoke Eater was adjudged to have closed his hand on the puck in the Trail crease, prompting an automatic penalty shot. Bulldogs coach Kevin Willison allowed defenseman Eric Walker (playing his first game back in Trail after two seasons with the Orange & Black) to take the free breakaway, and Walker obliged, roofing his first goal as a Bulldog over Stanwood's left shoulder.
Gialedakis and Matthew Hansen rounded out the scoring, as the Bulldogs earned their fifth consecutive victory on a deflating night for the Smokies and the 900-plus fans who took in the game at Cominco Arena.
Tonight's first period showed promise (especially the line of Luke Sandler, Jesse Knowler and Austin Adduono who I thought deserved better luck tonight), but in all, the effort wasn't nearly good enough. Trail's power-play was, in a word, abysmal, and as the game wore on, the attention to detail, especially in the defensive zone, wasn't at all indicative of the type of effort required to make the playoffs. Needless to say, this team HAS to be better in West Kelowna on Tuesday, and got let off the hook by the Warriors tonight as well, as they defeated Salmon Arm tonight.
My Three Stars:
1. Manny Gialedakis, Alberni Valley
2. Teal Burns, Alberni Valley
3. Chase Van Allen, Alberni Valley
Up Next: the Smokies visit the West Kelowna Warriors Tuesday night. Adam Todd will be back from his stint with Everett of the Western Hockey League, and the Smokies could either be four, or six points adrift of a post-season berth, as Salmon Arm hosts Victoria Saturday.