Trail Smoke Eaters back on track
Despite rumours to the contrary, the Trail Smoke Eaters’ season is far from done.
The Smoke Eaters counted all four points on the weekend with a 3-2 win over the Nanaimo Clippers Friday, and a dramatic 3-2 overtime victory over Interior division rival Salmon Arm SilverBacks Saturday night at the Cominco Arena.
Cody Bardock netted his second game-winning goal in as many nights on the power play with just under a minute gone in the second overtime period. The Lethbridge native took a cross-ice pass from Braden Pears and wired a blast from the left face-off dot over the shoulder of SilverBack goalie Angus Redmond to send the Smokie crowd into delirium. After Trail killed off a penalty of their own in OT, the Backs leading scorer Landon Smith was sent off for interference for hauling down Jake Kauppila in the offensive zone at the 4:53 mark of the first overtime.
Both teams had chances to break a 2-2 second period deadlock late in the third with Redmond making big pad saves off of Valik Chichkin and Adam Wheeldon, and the Smokies goalie Dustin Nikkel replying by absolutely robbing Smith on the doorstep with a great glove save. Bardock almost ended it in regulation after rifling a bullet off the cross bar with about a minute to play.
The Smokies never trailed all weekend as Pears put the orange and black on the board first with a power-play goal at 4:53. The high-scoring Backs’ trio of Smith, Alex Gillies, and Evan Anderson would combine to tie it 1-1 90 second later. But Scott Davidson would put the Smokies up 2-1 by banging in a Joel Web rebound through the legs of Redmond at 16:17 of the opening frame.
Smith would tie at 13:34 of the second period after a perfect pass across the crease from Gillies left him with a tap in.
The goalies shut the door from then on with Nikkel making several big saves and stopping 39 shots, including 15 in the third and seven in OT, while Redmond blocked 38 on the night. But the Smoke Eaters played solid defensive hockey particularly in the first overtime when after making a bad change were caught with too many men. But the defence held, Jesse Knowler made a spectacular play breaking up a 2-on-1 and Nikkel stopped everything he saw.
In Friday’s game versus the Clippers, Bardock would net the winner at 8:19 of the third period to give the Smokies a 3-1 lead, before Austin Dick cut the lead to one at 10:49.
Smoke Eater AP Connor Gross from coach Nick Deschenes’ former team the Grand Forks Border Bruins scored his first as a Smokie to open the scoring at 14:56 of the first. Kauppila made it 2-0 before the Clippers Bo Brauer cut the lead to one at 13:25 of the second period. The teams would trade goals as the Smokies improved their record to 3-2-1 with coach Deschenes behind the bench.
See Tuesday’s Trail Times for more on the Smoke Eaters.
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