Saturday, November 21, 2009

Post Game: Quesnel 4 Trail 2

NOTE: Here is my recap from the official Smokies website. What I'd add to this is that it was again obvious how much this team can accomplish when they are focused and dedicated to working hard. When they aren't? It's ugly.

I don't know how the guys could have started so slowly again after forcing Beckwith to bail them out early in Prince George on Thursday night. This time they did it to Smiley. Both times the goalies came up big, but when you put yourself behind the 8-ball like that you're not always going to come back.

There is so much talent on the team. It's obvious based on the performance once they started getting going. It's obvious based on how they were able to score with ease when they picked up their play in Prince George. They can be as good as anyone when they've got they're all killing themselves for that puck. But how can that group only fire 7 shots on net in the first 30 minutes and follow that with 26 the rest of the way? The answer will only come by looking in the mirror. It'll come from making a true commitment to giving everything they have all the time instead of half the game or every couple of games. All the talent in the world and 50 cents won't buy you a cup of coffee if you get out worked for any extended stretch in a game.

I don't know why that hasn't sunk in yet.

In Theo Fleury's new book he makes a statement that I mentioned during the intermission of tonight's broadcast. It basically amounts to saying that systems don't win games and there's no point in being overly complicated. The bottom line according to Fleury is that you'll win games if your skill guys out work their skill guys. It's that simple. If your best players bust their asses at both ends of the ice you're going to win games. If they take shifts or periods off you're just not.

There's a reason a guy who went through everything Fleury did and had as many physical disadvantages as he did was able to have a hall of fame career. He had the will, desire and work ethic to make it happen no matter how many people doubted him. If skill guys at this level aren't willing to consistently match or exceed the work ethic of their opponents or the role players on their teams... their careers will be over before they're legal drinking age in the US. And there will be nobody else to blame.

Quesnel, BC – A strong second half wasn't enough for Trail (7-19-1-1) to overcome goaltender Kirby Halcrow and a hard working Quesnel Millionaires (10-15-0-3) squad on Friday night. Quesnel took an early 1-0 lead and hung on for a 4-2 victory over the Smokies.

Halcrow stopped 31 of 33 Trail shots. He has only allowed 3 goals on 76 shots in two starts against the Smoke Eaters.

Trail started slowly with only 6 shots in the first period and only a single shot in the first then minutes of the second period. After getting down 2-0 on an Eric Hansen power play goal the Smokies started to bounce back. They out played Quesnel the rest of the way and fired 26 shots on goal in the second half of the game.

Scott Jaclkin's goal on a Trail man advantage brought them to within one. Halcrow then robbed Travis St. Denis on what seemed like a sure goal to preserve the Millionaires lead heading into the third period.

Despite several Trail chances in the third it was Quesnel that would score the next goal. Taylor Holst's 15th of the year with 6:37 left held up as the eventual game winner.

The Smoke Eaters made it close on a terrific shot from a tough angle by Mike Betz on the power play. His second of the the weekend cut Quesnel's lead in half, but the Smokies only had 22 seconds left to score again. Instead, Breyden DeCock put the final nail the Trail coffin with an empty net goal.

While Halcrow was named the first star of the game, former Millionaire Kiefer Smiley matched him save for save. Smiley stopped 37 of 40 Quesnel shots including some huge saves to keep Trail in the game early.

Trail will try to wrap up their final northern swing of the season on a winning note on Saturday night in Williams Lake.

ON THE TRAIL: Quesnel now leads the season series between the teams 2 to 1. Halcrow has been the first star for both Millionaire wins. He was at the World Junior A Challenge when Trail beat Quesnel 8-2 ... Graeme Strukoff and Matt Wilkins missed the game with injures. Both players are week to week at this point ... Colton Semenok made his debut with Trail as an AP. He jumped seemlessly into the Smokies line-up and earned extensive praise from Trail assistant coach Brian Youngson during his second intermission interview on Mountain FM. Semenok won the confidence of the coaches to the point that he was on the power play and penalty kill in the third period. His strong performance follows a fine effort by AP Philip Patenaude on Friday night in Prince George. With similarely strong games from AP forwards Gavin Currie and Jesse Niemi this season the Smoke Eaters have been blessed by strong call-ups ... Youngson got booted from the game in the second period for arguing a 10 minute misconduct penalty called against Trail forward Tye Lewis ... Betz also had an assist on Trail's first goal. He now has 3 points in 3 games since joining the Smokies from Spokane in the WHL.

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