Trail Smoke Eaters/Mike Hockley

Vees all Business in Season Opening Weekend Against Trail

The Penticton Vees took care of business in Trail on the weekend with a sweep of the two-game series versus the Smoke Eaters and setting the bar for the Interior Division.  The opening weekend at home versus the Vees was a great opportunity for the Smoke Eaters to ignite a passionate fan base with optimism for the upcoming season. But as the final buzzer sounded at Cominco Arena on Saturday the Smokies faithful filed out onto Victoria Street in a bit of shock at the results from the weekend series.

The Vees took both games against the Smoke Eaters in decisive fashion.  Vees outscored the Smoke Eaters 11-2, with a 4-1 victory on Friday, and an even bigger margin of victory on Saturday, finding the net 7 times for a 7-1 win.  

In the first game, the Smoke Eaters got off to a good start in front of almost 2000 excited fans.  But the Vees would withstand the early push with some great goaltending from the first-year netminder Yaniv Perets. It would be the Vees to score first at the 4:56 mark of the period as Tristan Amonte broke down the right-wing and ripped a hard wrister high over the glove of Smokies goaltender Donovan Buskey.

The second period would be all Vees as the Smoke Eaters continued to struggle to find their game following the intermission. Penticton would put three more goals on the board with the scoring coming from David Silye, Evan McIntyre, along with Amonte getting his second of the night. Buskey’s night would be cut short as Logan Terness would emerge from the dressing room to start the third period for the Smoke Eaters.

Despite the Vees’ dominance, the Smoke Eaters would not be denied their first goal of the season.  At the 14:45 mark of the third, recent University of Denver committed forward Owen Ozar (University of Denver), cleaned up a loose puck after a strong effort by former USHL forward Braden Costello.  The goal would break the shutout bid for Perets, but it’s all the Smoke Eaters would get on this night. Ozar’s goal was well-deserved consolation as he played well all night and was rewarded with the Energy Player of the Game for the Smoke Eaters.

The following night would see Buskey back between the pipes for the Smoke Eaters.  Just like the night before, the Smokies had a good start to the game, but the Vees were ready once again.  At the 4:34 mark of the first, it was Danny Weight to get things started for the Vees. Penticton added two more before the end of the opening frame with power play markers from Conner Hutchison and 2018 Philadelphia Flyers 1st round draft pick Jay O’Brien scoring his first BCHL goal and giving the Vees a 3-0 lead heading into the first intermission.

In the second period, the Vees would once again have an answer for the Smoke Eaters as they would get two more behind Buskey before the halfway point of the period.  This time, it was Liam Malmquist with back to back goals putting the Vees up 5-0. That spelled the end of the night for Buskey and Terness came off the bench to make his second appearance in as many nights.  The Vees would add one more before the end of the second on a 5-on-3 powerplay with O’Brien getting his second of the night.

Just as they did the night before, the Smoke Eaters came out in the third period trailing the Vees and looking to at least break Penticton’s shutout bid. The Vees added another early in the 3rd making it a 7-0 game, however, the Smoke Eaters did manage to get one on the night. This time it was Michael Colella getting his first BCHL goal after Ozar dug a puck out from behind the net. Colella beat Derek Krall who was solid all night for the Vees.

Losing their first two games of the season at home with a combined score of 11-2 is far from the start the Smoke Eaters were looking for, but they can look at these two games as an early season wake up call. The Vees have been at or near the top of the Interior Division for the better part of a decade now. The Smoke Eaters got a lot of first-hand experience this weekend. They can now look forward and see the level of competition and the level of play necessary to be considered one of the top teams in the division and the BCHL.

GM and Head Coach Jeff Tambellini will have to refocus this group and have them prepared for yet another Interior Division rival next week as the Salmon Arm Silverbacks make their way to Trail for a back to back series versus the Smoke Eaters on September 13th and 14th.

On top of the weekend results, the early-season injury bug continues for the Smoke Eaters.  Trevor Isaksson will join Smokies Captain Philippe Lapointe on the sidelines as he left the game on Friday and did not dress for the Saturday game.  No official word yet from the Smoke Eaters as to the nature or extent of the injury for Isaksson.