I apologize for the audio level of the clips as my mic was on too loud so it sounds very distorted during the exciting moments of the game. Also sorry for no update after last night's 8-5 loss in Merritt as today was busy. Brian has something up on his blog. I will say that I thought it was a weird game in which I felt the Smokies deserved a better fate... at least overtime. One goal bounces in off a couple of bodies, another comes on a pass headed for behind that Trail net that takes a freakish bounce in front of the the goal, another on a shot from a ridiculous angle, another after a check on the puck carrier sends the puck right to a Merritt stick, and yet another (the 7th goal) that from my vantage point never even crossed the line. That's a lot of bad luck in one game. It was also obviously a very strong performance from Dustin Johnson and the Cents offence. It's not often you see anyone score four goals in a game.
There are moments in that game that will upset the Smokies coaching staff. Again they had some problems with coverage in their own zone. Again they had some big mental blunders at the worst possible times. The power play also really let them down in Merritt. However, unlike previous games where Trail would get down by a couple of goals and fold the tent... last night they battled back. We're seeing a club that is playing with a lot more mental toughness. The Smokies came back from down 5-3 to tie the game and had the momentum going their way. Unfortunately the Cents got a bit of an ugly one to suck the wind out of Trail's sails. That's how it goes sometimes. Still it was an entertaining if strange game against a Merritt team that has been very tough to beat in their own building. They've got wins over Penticton, Westside and Quesnel at home as well. No one should be expecting two points when they visit the Cents anymore.
The Smoke Eaters do have to limit the number of chances they give up. That was two consecutive games where the opposition fired 39 shots on the Trail goal. You can't expect your goalie to stop that many every night. The Smokies have two solid tenders who can win them games here and there. It'd be nice to see them get an easier night once and a while though. I do find the club is doing a much better job of getting in the shooting lanes and protecting the front of their net. The communication on the back end seems to be improving. Things are headed in a positive direction.
It's also nice to see the scoring starting to come. Normally if you score 12 goals in 2 games you're going to get a couple of wins. It's obvious the Jacklin/Sandor/Mellor line is humming, but they're not the only ones getting it done. The St.Denis/Lewis/Mailey line is always dangerous and now Darnell Dyck and Wade Bennett are putting some big numbers up. We also saw the Abenante/Nugent/McEwan line chip in during the recent road trip The scoring is starting to come from the whole line-up and that's what Trail needs to do to get wins against some of these teams that are really relying on their top two lines or even just top line to get their points.
The next challenge for Trail is the first northern road trip of the season. You can hear all three games on Mountain FM as we bring you Nelson Ford Trail Smoke Eaters play by play. Also tune in to Mountain FM's Overtime from 6pm to 10pm every weeknight as we bring you reaction from this past weekend and tell you what to expect on that northern swing.