Smokies forward Quinn Disher sneaks one by the Victoria goalie.

Smokies forward Quinn Disher sneaks one by the Victoria goalie.

Trail Smoke Eaters split home games against Island teams

Trail Smoke Eaters fall to Victoria Grizzlies after muzzling Alberni Valley Bulldogs

A hot goaltender and a slow start spoiled the Trail Smoke Eaters five-game home-ice win streak on Sunday in a 6-2 loss to the Victoria Grizzlies.

Grizzlies puckstopper Cole Schwebius stopped 51 shots and Ellis Rickwood netted a hat trick to give Victoria it’s ninth win, and end a three-game losing streak.

With the loss, Trail (8-5-1-0-0) drops into fifth place in the Interior Division standings.

Grizzly goalie Cole Schwebius stops Trail captain Coalson Wolford on this try. Schwebius faced 53 shots in a 6-2 win over the Smoke Eaters.

Grizzly goalie Cole Schwebius stops Trail captain Coalson Wolford on this try. Schwebius faced 53 shots in a 6-2 win over the Smoke Eaters.

Trail was coming off a 4-2 victory over the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Saturday night, and a 2-1 win over Merritt Centennials on Wednesday, Nov. 10.

Playing in their third game of the week, the Smokies lacked jump in the first period, were outshot 16-8, and fell behind 1-0 to the Grizzlies.

The second period didn’t start any better as Kalen Szeto tallied his sixth of the season with a quick shot from the slot, and his seventh on a backdoor feed from Matthew Wood in the opening two minutes.

Down 3-0, Trail picked up the pace, but couldn’t capitalize on a number of chances in the second, as the Smoke Eaters outshot the Grizzlies 19-11 in the period.

Smokies defenceman Ethan Willowghby took exception to a blow to the head delivered by Luc Pelletier and the two dropped the gloves 36 seconds into the final frame.

Following the fight, Matthew Wood put the Grizzlies up 4-0 just 38 seconds later.

But Trail took advantage of a power-play opportunity after Victoria’s Declan Ride was sent off for hooking. Charlie Strobel sent a perfect backdoor pass to Coalson Wolford, who made no mistake cutting the lead to 4-1 at 17:58.

The Smoke Eaters continued to press and Quinn Disher made a quick move to the net and sniped a shot under the arm of Schwebius to make it 4-2 at 14:38.

The Trail Smoke Eaters suffered a 6-2 loss to Victoria Grizzlies on Sunday, following a big win over Alberni Valley on Saturday. Photos: Jim Bailey

The Trail Smoke Eaters suffered a 6-2 loss to Victoria Grizzlies on Sunday, following a big win over Alberni Valley on Saturday. Photos: Jim Bailey

The Victoria goalie took over from there, frustrating the Trail shooters on several quality chances.

Rickwood made it 5-2 on a laser from the circle that beat Smoke Eaters goalie Bailey Monteith with less than five minutes remaining, and then scored into an empty net for the hatty with 28 seconds on the clock for the 6-2 final.

The Smoke Eaters outshot the Grizzlies 53-32, and went 2-for-4 on the power play, while Victoria was 1-for-5.

In Saturday’s match, special teams played a key role in the Smoke Eaters 4-2 win over the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.

Trail went 3-for-4 with the extra man including the game winner from Corey Cunningham. The Prince George product slapped in a rebound off a shot from Ethan Willoughby to make it 3-1 with 8:53 to play in the third period.

The victory cooled off a hot Alberni team and their goalie Herbie Hebquist, who posted three shutouts in a streak where the Bulldogs put up points in seven straight games. Alberni has six wins and just one overtime loss over that time, including a 5-2 victory over the Cranbrook Bucks on Friday.

Trail jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead on power play goals from Brady Hunter and Teddy Lagerback.

The Bulldogs cut the lead in half in the second with a goal from Josh Van Unen. After Cunningham put Trail up 3-1, Alberni’s Booker Daniel notched his first of the season with the goalie pulled to bring the Bulldogs within one with 2:19 to play.

However, an empty netter by Zack Michaelis with 1:25 left on the clock ended the threat, and secured the 4-2 win.

The Smoke Eaters outshot Alberni 34-30, with Evan Fradette earning his eighth win in 12 starts, while Hebquist suffered his second loss in nine starts.

Trail hits the road next week and will play the Coquitlam Express, Nanaimo Clippers and Powell River Kings, Nov. 19-21.