The Trail Smoke Eaters used a 46-save performance from Adam Marcoux and two goals from Mack Byers to stave off elimination and force a Game #7 after a 5-2 victory in Game #6 at the Trail Memorial Centre on Saturday night.
The opening period went scoreless for long stretches of time before the Smoke Eaters were able to score first for the 5th time in 6 games of the series and came courtesy of a pair of veterans. Spencer McLean gathered a burst of speed in the neutral zone as he stopped in the left face-off circle and sent a pass across to Hayden Rowan in the right circle as he sniped a shot over the glove side of Vipers goaltender Aidan Porter for his 3rd goal of the playoffs and a 1-0 Smoke Eaters lead at the 17:26 mark of the period.
Before the period was out, the Smoke Eaters continued to press and grabbed a 2-0 lead with just 30 seconds remaining in the frame. Diarmad DiMurro took a left point shot that deflected off a stick and past the blocker side of Porter before it hit the post and hung up in the crease before Mack Byers would come and poke the puck over the goal line for his 4th goal of the playoffs and a 2-0 lead late in the opening frame.
The 2nd period was similar to that of the 1st frame with no scoring happening until later in the stanza and it would be Kent Johnson who would give the Smoke Eaters a 3-0 lead in the final five minutes of the frame. After a face-off win, Tyler Ghirardosi made a move to the left face-off circle and ripped a shot off the post on the glove side before Johnson was able to find an open net on the glove side from the right face-off circle for his 7th goal of the postseason and a three-goal advantage at the 15:59 mark.
The Vipers came back and were able to find the back of the net before the period was out at the 17:24 mark of the 2nd period on a rebound. Ben Sanderson was camped in front of the net as a shot came from the point before Smoke Eaters netminder Adam Marcoux made two big right pad stops on Sanderson in front of the net before the third attempt was pushed over the goal line to make it a 3-1 game heading into the 3rd period.
The Smoke Eaters were able to extend their lead back to three goals courtesy of Owen Ozar. Braeden Tuck fed the puck ahead on the right-wing side as Ozar was able to get a burst of speed down wing and get to the right circle before letting a shot go past the glove side of Porter for his 4th goal of the playoffs to give Trail a 4-1 lead at the 7:15 mark of the 3rd period.
Mack Byers collected his second goal of the game and his 5th of the postseason at the 14:54 mark with a snipe from the left face-off circle. Byers wheeled his way out into the left face-off circle as he laced a shot over the glove side of Porter to extend the Smoke Eaters lead to 5-1 in the final period.
Michael Young closed the scoring for the game at the 17:18 mark on Vernon’s first power play of the game. Young got a mid-point pass before blasting a shot past the glove side of a screened Marcoux to give Vernon their second goal of the game and complete the scoring and make the final 5-2 in favour of the Smoke Eaters.
Adam Marcoux was terrific in the Smoke Eaters goal, making his first start since February 8th as he made 46 saves on 48 shots in his 1st win of the playoffs and 10th career victory while Aidan Porter stopped 24 of the 29 shots thrown his way in his 5th loss of the postseason.
FINAL SCORE: 5-2 Smoke Eaters
SHOTS ON GOAL: 48-29 Vipers
SMOKE EATERS PP: 0/3
SMOKE EATERS PK: 0/1
1) Mack Byers (2-0-2)
2) Hayden Rowan (1-1-2)
3) Tyler Ghirardosi (1-1-2)
Fortis Energy Player of the Game: Adam Marcoux (46 saves on 48 shots)
The Smoke Eaters stave off elimination in Game #6 and force a Game #7 back in Vernon against the Vipers at Kal Tire Place on Monday night. Puck drop is slated for 7:00 PM from the North Okanagan with the game being broadcasted with a FREE audio stream at mixlr.com/trail-smoke-eaters as well as pay-per-view at HockeyTV.com beginning with the Teck Trail Operations Pre-Game Report at 6:45 PM with the Voice of the Smoke Eaters, Trevor Miller.