Back home for just the third time in 13 games on Saturday, the Victoria Grizzlies were looking to gain some traction in the B.C. Hockey League standings.
The only problem was they ran head-on into the hottest team in the league.
The Trail Smoke Eaters pushed their win streak to seven games by downing the Grizzlies 5-1 in front of 974 fans at The Q Centre. After going winless in their first six games, the Smokies now sit at 7-5-1, while the Grizzlies lost for the second straight night and remain last in the Island Division at 4-9.
Led by BCHL leading scorer Kent Johnson’s seventh and eighth goals and 23rd and 24th points of season, the Smoke Eaters gave up a mid-first period goal to Grizzlies defenceman James Davenport and then rolled off five straight goals to quiet the crowd in The Q Centre.
With the score 3-1 for Trail, the Grizzlies were given life late in the second period when they were awarded a five-minute power play after Smoke Eaters defenceman Jameson Murray was given a major penalty for a blow to the head of Grizzlies captain Marty Westhaver, who left the game and did not return. A Victoria power play that had scored six goals in its past two games was silenced by the Smokies though, putting the game on ice.
Besides the pair from the 20-year-old Johnson, Trail got goals from Diamard DiMurro, Braden Costello and Max Kryski shorthanded.
Rookie Joe Howe made 31 saves in net for Victoria, while Logan Terness turned aside 28 of the 29 shots he faced in the Smoke Eaters’ net.
The Grizzlies have little time to dwell on Saturday’s loss as the Island Division-leading Cowichan Valley Capitals invade The Q Centre on Tuesday night for the first game of a home-and-home set. The second game is Friday night in Duncan.
LOOSE PUCKS: The Grizzlies were again without injured defenceman Brady MacDonald, so blue-liner Andrew Braun was called up from Shawnigan Lake School Academy.