The Trail Smoke Eaters couldn’t find their footing and muster much offence in a 4-0 loss to the Vernon Vipers on Wednesday night at Kal Tire Place.
Jagger Williamson registered three points in the game, scoring twice and adding an assist while Max Palaga made 26 saves for his first BCHL shutout as the Smoke Eaters fell on the road and were shutout for the first time this season.
The opening 10 minutes of the game was a bit of a chess match with both teams finding their footing before the Vipers took the lead at 12:39 mark of the 1st period as Ben Helgesen took a pass from Coleton Bilodeau in the slot and beat Smoke Eaters netminder Adam Marcoux over the glove hand for a 1-0 lead.
Vernon continued their strong play in the period and doubled their lead at the 15:39 mark thanks to their captain, Jagger Williamson. Brendan Kim made a smart pass to the slot for an open Williamson and the veteran wired a shot on the blocker side of Marcoux to extend the Vipers lead to 2-0.
With 15 seconds remaining in the period, the Vipers pushed their lead to 3-0 courtesy of a power play marker. Williamson worked his way in over the blue line before saucering a perfect pass to the blocker side post for an on-rushing Jesse Lansdell to chip by the blocker side of Marcoux and give Vernon a three-goal advantage after the opening period. That would be the night for Marcoux as Tanner Marshall came on in relief to begin the 2nd period.
The Smoke Eaters started to come alive in the 2nd period, after being outshot 13-4 in the opening frame and led in the shots on goal category in the middle stanza by an 11-9 margin but it would be the Vipers scoring the lone goal in the period.
A turnover inside the Smoke Eaters zone saw an opportunity for the Vipers as Connor Marritt centered from the slot to the bottom of the right face-off circle for Williamson who tapped it by the blocker side of Marshall to extend the Vernon lead to 4-0 at the 14:56 mark of the middle frame.
The 3rd period was a bit of a saw off as the Smoke Eaters tried to get themselves on the scoreboard but were denied by Max Palaga, who made 11 of his 26 saves in the game in the final frame of play and helped Vernon to the 4-0 shutout victory.
Adam Marcoux started the game for Trail, making 10 saves on 13 shots in his 4th loss of the season before Tanner Marshall turned aside 19 of the 20 shots he faced in the game while Max Palaga stopped all 26 shots thrown his way for his first career BCHL win and shutout.
FINAL SCORE: 4-0 Vipers
SHOTS ON GOAL: 32-26 Vipers
SMOKE EATERS PP: 0/4
SMOKE EATERS PK: 3/4
1) Jagger Williamson (2-1-3)
2) Max Palaga (26 save shutout)
3) Connor Marritt (0-1-1)
Fortis Energy Player of the Game: Trey Taylor (0-0-0)
The Smoke Eaters (7-4-2-1) return home for the weekend as they host the reigning RBC Cup champion Chilliwack Chiefs (12-4-0-0) on Friday night at the Trail Memorial Centre. Tickets are available for purchase at the Smoke Eaters Main Office.