Trail, BC: The Penticton Vees (10-3-1-1) came out flat in their first trip to the Cominco Arena registering just three shots on net in the opening 20 minutes en route to a 4-1 loss to the Trail Smoke Eaters (12-4-0-1).
Trail put pressure on the puck carrier anytime the Vees had it, and more often than not were quickly able to take it away or clear it out of their own zone before Penticton could generate offence.
On their third power play of the period the Smokies opened the scoring. Jeremy Lucchini took a slap shot from the blue line that was kicked aside by Adam Scheel, but Tyler Ghirardosi was parked at the top of the crease and slid home the rebound for his first career BCHL goal.
The Vees had an excellent chance to tie the game early in the second on a three-on-one rush, but the back door feed didn’t connect and they didn’t register a shot on net.
A few minutes later, Kale Howarth sent the puck to the slot from below the goal line and Ross Armour fired home his 12th goal of the season to make it 2-0 Trail after 40 minutes.
Penticton came out looking like a different team in the early going of the third and got rewarded in the opening minute.
Joe Leahy took a shot from the blue line that was kicked away by Brandon Wells, but the rebound went right to the stick of Jackson Keane and he scored his second of the season to cut the Smokies lead to 2-1 just 45 seconds into the third.
The Vees continued to pressure Trail in the following minutes, including a great chance in the slot for Massimo Rizzo on a one timer, but the pass was too in tight to get the shot away cleanly.
The penalty kill had to come up big for the Vees at the mid point of the frame as Nicky Leivermann was assessed a double minor for high sticking. It was an excellent kill for Penticton as they limited Trail to just a handful of shots over the four minutes, coming out of it still down just 2-1.
A few minutes after the kill Trail extended their lead. Ryan Murphy knocked a puck out of mid air in the neutral zone and carried it over the Vees line. He fed it to the left wing for Ghirardosi who wired home his second of the night with 4:13 left.
Howarth iced the game under a minute later as he came in on a breakaway before sliding the puck through Scheel’s five hole for his 11th of the season.
The final shots ended 38-20 in favour of the Smokies as the Vees dropped their fourth game in their last six. Penticton has another big divisional matchup next weekend as they head to West Kelowna to play the Warriors Friday night, before returning home and hosting the Powell River Kings on Saturday.