The Trail Smoke Eaters used three power play and a four-point performance from Trevor Zins to propel them to a 5-4 victory over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on Saturday night at the Shaw Centre.
The Smoke Eaters opened the scoring at the 6:01 mark in the 1st period and was a special one for affiliate player Paul Leroux as he tipped in his first career BC Hockey League goal. Luke Gallagher let a shot go from the right point that Leroux deflected in the slot and past the blocker side of Matthew Armitage to give Trail a 1-0 lead in the opening frame.
The visitors would extend that lead to a pair of goals courtesy of a power play marker, the first of three on the night for the Smoke Eaters. Hayden Rowan won a face-off back to the blue line where Trevor Zins wristed a shot through traffic on the blocker side just six seconds into man advantage for his 11th goal of the season and extended the Smoke Eaters lead to 2-0 at the 12:20 mark.
The Smoke Eaters used that momentum to get an early marker in the 2nd period as just 11 seconds into the frame, Mack Byers pushed the Trail lead to 3-0. Zins had his right point shot stopped by the right pad of Armitage with the rebound popping out for Byers as he roofed his 11th goal of the season and staked Trail to a three-goal advantage.
Cue the comeback for the Silverbacks as Salmon Arm worked away at chipping to the lead, starting at the 4:22 mark as Matthew Verboon made it a 3-1 game. Verboon threw a shot to the net amongst heavy traffic that beat Smoke Eaters goaltender Donovan Buskey on the blocker side to get the game within a pair of goals with the power play marker.
Just under three minutes later, on a delayed penalty, Verboon got the puck to the front of the net where Buskey made a glove side but the rebound was batted in out of mid-air by John Little that cut the deficit to one at the 7:21 mark of the middle stanza and sent the game into the 3rd period with a 3-2 Smoke Eaters lead.
A 3rd period filled with power play goals was kick started by Nick Unruh, who tied the game for the ‘Backs at the 3:35 mark of the final frame. Darren Rizzolo had his midpoint shot stopped by the right pad of Buskey with the rebound kicked out to the left face-off circle and pushed into the goal by Unruh to tie the game at 3-3.
The Silverbacks got into penalty trouble in the middle of the period and the Smoke Eaters were there to take advantage, getting their lead back at the 7:52 mark of the final frame on a rebound of their own. Zins had his shot from the right point stopped by the right pad of Armitage with the rebound being potted by his blocker side off the stick of Tyler Ghirardosi, who was camped in front of the net for his 10th goal of the season and a 4-3 Smoke Eaters advantage on the power play.
The extra man paid dividends once again at the 11:02 mark of the 3rd period with an Owen Ozar marker that would stand up as the game winning goal. Luke Gallagher shot from the left point that was deflected on the glove side and into the net by Ozar, scoring his 10th goal of the season and giving Trail a two-goal cushion and a 5-3 lead on another power play.
Salmon Arm battled to get back within a goal moments later and was another power play that did the damage, the ‘Backs third power play goal of the game. Akito Hirose had his point shot stopped by Buskey before Trevor Adams collected the rebound and found the open goal on the blocker side to cut the lead to 5-4 at the 13:53 mark.
The Smoke Eaters were able to lock things down from there and earn their 18th win of the season while Donovan Buskey collected his first BCHL victory, turning aside 28 of the 32 shots he faced. Matthew Armitage suffered his 9th defeat of the season, turning aside 25 of the 30 put his direction.
FINAL SCORE: 5-4 Smoke Eaters
SHOTS ON GOAL: 32-30 Silverbacks
SMOKE EATERS PP: 3/5
SMOKE EATERS PK: 0/3
1) Trevor Zins (1-3-4)
2) Nick Unruh (1-1-2)
3) Matthew Verboon (1-1-2)
Fortis Energy Player of the Game: Trevor Adams (1-0-1)
The Smoke Eaters (18-21-7-3) head back to the Trail Memorial Centre to begin a six-game home stand to conclude their season series against the Vernon Vipers (19-18-7-3) on Friday night. Puck drop is slated for 7 PM with tickets available at the Smoke Eaters Main Office as well as at the door ahead of the opening face-off.