My problem with tonight's outing was with how loose Trail played. You got a sense especially early in the first and third periods that the Smoke Eaters thought they could take it easy. There were a lot of little fancy plays, cherry picking and half hearted back checks. Inconsistent and incomplete efforts get you inconsistent and incomplete results. What on earth would possess this club to think they would get an easy night at the rink against Merritt? The Centennials have now won all four games the two teams have played this season. They won't give you anything.
Frankly there were times in this game where I felt the Smokies played like they think they're a lot better than they are. Guess what? That's a big "L" with a clear message. You don't get to play shinny hockey with anyone. You have to bust your butts the same way against Merritt as you did against Wetside and Vernon. Did anyone who saw that game feel that Trail worked as hard or executed as well in it as they did against those Okanagan clubs?
To me it's not acceptable to raise your level of compete only when the opposition is a so called top team. This club has to work hard, drive the net, win puck battles, play smart and do the little things right night in and night out. Get away from that and you'll lose some games and make their goalie look pretty darn good. Just my 2 cents you may have all seen the game differently.
I'll be at Mountain FM's Miracle Marathon tomorrow from 8am until 4pm at Ferraro Foods. Please drop by and donate some food or money to help feed families in need during the holidays. The Smokies will be joining us sometime around noon hopefully. Shaun Johnson and I will be there throughout the day. Feel free to come talk hockey with us while you make your donation.
After that my girlfriend and I are taking a well deserved two day trip to Cranbrook. The blog will be quiet until Monday because if I brought the computer with me I think I may end up in a body bag. Have a good weekend and hope to see you tomorrow.
Trail, BC - As one of many odd man rush opportunities sailed wide you could sense the game slipping away. A snake bitten Trail club couldn't seem to find their touch around the net in a 3-2 loss on Friday night against the Merritt Centennials.
Keith Hamilton stopped 40 shots to secure Merritt's first road win of the season. He was very good in the Centennial's goal, but Trail also appeared to be gripping their sticks tightly as they failed to execute on an incredible number of quality chances.
Only Sam Mellor could find the net for the Smokies. The 17 year old has now scored 18 goals. He is second only to highly touted NHL draft prospect Beau Bennett of the Penticton Vees in rookie goal scoring.
Colton Sobchak notched the winner mid-way through the third period for Merritt on a mad scramble in the Trail zone. He added 2 assists while his linemate Derek Hills contributed 2 goals and an assist to the cause.
Kiefer Smiley made 24 saves for Trail including several big stops early in the third period. It was an inconsistent effort for the Smoke Eaters as they fired 22 shots on Hamilton in the second period, but had lulls early in the first and third periods.
The Smoke Eaters will have the whole week to think about that game as they don't play again until next Friday at home against a hot Nanaimo club. Trail beat the Clippers on the road in October.
ON THE TRAIL: Merritt now jumps ahead of Trail for the final playoff spot in the Interior. It was the fourth straight win for the Centennials over the Smoke Eaters season, and the sixth straight Merrit win over Trial dating back to the end of last season ... The Smokies have now dropped 5 consecutive games in which they've only scored 8 times. That's after scoring 23 goals in their previous 3 games ... Graeme Strukoff made his return to the line-up the day he was named to the BCHL All-Star team. He hit a crossbar in the first period. Matt Wilkins later rung one right off the middle of the post early in the third period. Both shots could have given Trail the lead they never had all game long ... Hundreds of fans launched stuffed animals onto the ice on Friday when Mellor scored late in the first period to tie the game at 1. It was the first Teddy Bear Toss by Trail in three seasons. Next weekend the club will be collecting food for families in need over the holiday season.
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