Williams Lake, BC – The Trail Smoke Eaters (4-14-1-1) started feeling the effects of the flu bug at the wrong time on Friday night. Defenceman Ben Matthews left the game after the first period while several others were struck by the bug in a 6-1 loss to Williams Lake (4-11-1-0). The Smoke Eaters had appeared to be relatively healthy as they travelled from Trail to Quesnel on Thursday. However, several members of the roster started to suffer from the flu as they took the ice in Williams Lake for the first time since the Timberwolves rejoined the BCHL this season.
The Smokies got off to a rough start in the first period as the T-Wolves doubled them in shots. Brendan Nadolny opened the scoring in his first game with Williams Lake. Ryan Stanimir added to the lead with back to back markers to close out the period.
Trail responded with much better efforts in the second and third periods. The Smokies out shot the Timberwolves 24-19 the rest of the way, but Sean Donnelly turned away 31 of Trail's 32 total shots. Only Sam Mellor was able to beat the Williams Lake goaltender. The Cranbrook native scored his 10th of the season after Scott Jacklin made a terrific deke around Colin Wandfluh and fed a pass across the front of the net for Mellor. Wade Bennett also picked up an assist on the play.
Stanimir finished the game with 4 points for Williams Lake. Nadolny and Kyle Leung added 2 points each. The Williams Lake win evened the season series between the two clubs at one win each. Trail beat the Timberwolves 7-2 at the Cominco Arena last month.
The next action for Trail is Saturday night in Prince George. The Spruce Kings beat the Smoke Eaters 4-3 in overtime earlier this month. This will be Trail's first visit to Prince George this season. Tune in to Mountain FM for the broadcast starting at 6:45pm. It is also available on BCHL PPV.
ON THE TRAIL: Trail had won seven straight games against Williams Lake dating back to the 2005-06 season ... Jesse Niemi made his debut as an affiliate player with Trail. He has 25 points in 15 KIJHL games this season with Fernie ... Garrett Beckwith stopped 19 of 23 shots before being relieved by Kiefer Smiley. Smiley stopped 10 of 12 shots he faced ... Former Castlegar Rebel Anthony DeLong assisted on Stanimir's second goal for Williams Lake ... Former Rebel Darren Tarasoff and former Nelson Leaf Dane Rupert were both out of the Timberwolves line-up with the flu ... Trail was missing Justin Brown, Matt Wilkins and Graeme Strukoff to injuries ... Mellor, Jacklin and Bennett are all on 4 game point scoring streaks.