The Cranbrook Bucks wrapped up 2021 in a big way on Friday, beating their arch rivals from Trail by a 4-0 score.
It was the third straight meeting between the two rivals, and the first in nearly two weeks after the holiday break.
Much like they did in the previous matchups, the Bucks asserted a quick paced game built on their forechecking and playing in the offensive zone.
The first period was relatively quiet for both clubs, with the only ink on the scoresheet coming in the form of penalties. The teams combined for seven penalties and five powerplays in the opening 20 minutes.
There would be no scoring however, as the Bucks outshot Trail 9-8 in a scoreless opening period.
Things started to open up in the second period, particularly for the Bucks.
Cranbrook’s top line opened the scoring at 6:53 of the middle frame, with Luke Pfoh finishing for his sixth goal of the season, from Tyson Dyck and Noah Quinn to make it 1-0 Bucks.
A few shifts later, Liam Hansson buried his first BCHL goal from Zeth Kindrachuk and Bauer Morrissey at 11:19 to make it 2-0.
The Bucks would extend the lead to 3-0 late in the second stanza as Noah Quinn scored on the powerplay for his 10th of the season.
Cranbrook really took the game over in the second, outshooting Trail 20-12 and taking a 3-goal lead into the third.
It was much of the same in the final frame, as the Bucks continued to carry the play and eventually put the game out of reach just before the midway point of the third.
Bucks defenseman Quaid Anderson fired a shot from the point, and forward Kellan Hjartarson was left all alone in front of the Smoke Eaters net to redirect it past goaltender Evan Fradette.
Hjartarson’s 10th of the year made it 4-0 at 7:55 of the third, putting the game out of reach.
The Bucks outshot Trail 10-3 in the final frame, helping goaltender Nathan Airey to a relatively low-stress shutout. Airey was named the game’s first star, kicking aside all 23 shots he faced for his second shutout of the season.
With the shutout victory, Airey improves to 8-7-1 on the season, lowering his goals-against-average to 3.09, and elevating his save-percentage to .904% on the season.
The win extends the Cranbrook’s winning streak to four games overall, and is the first four-game win streak in franchise history.
It was also the third straight win over the Smoke Eaters, as the Bucks improve to 4-2-1 against their arch rivals.
After starting the month of December with a 1-4-0 record, the four game win streak allowed the Bucks to finish a game over .500, the third straight month to do so this season.
Cranbrook and Trail will renew pleasantries on Saturday night at Cominco arena to close out a four-game stretch against each other, and their third set of home-and-homes this season.
It will be the Bucks first game of 2022, after closing out 2021 on a high note.