The Trail Smoke Eaters used a perfect penalty kill and a complete performance to help them to their third win in a row as they earned a 4-2 victory over the Langley Rivermen at the Trail Memorial Centre on Friday night.
The power play was the source of the offence for the Smoke Eaters in the first 20 minutes of play and it was supplied by Kent Johnson, who opened the scoring at the 2:58 mark on the back half of a man advantage. After the puck was sent to the net from the slot, a rebound came out to the bottom of the left circle as Johnson pushed it past the blocker side of Rivermen netminder Braedon Fleming for his 19th goal of the season to give Trail a 1-0 lead.
The period went along with both teams applying some pressure but it would be the Smoke Eaters who would double their lead again coming on a power play late in the frame from a familiar source. Carter Jones took a pass down the right side from Trevor Zins and sent the puck across the ice to the left circle for Johnson as he wired the puck over the shoulder of Fleming for his 20th tally of the season and his second of the game sent Trail to the intermission with a 2-0 advantage.
Trail would extend their lead early on in the 2nd period as affiliate forward Chase Dafoe found the back of the net playing in his 6th game of the season with the Smokies. Mack Byers won a face-off in the left circle as Dafoe was quick on the puck from the wing and backhanded a shot toward the net that snuck through the legs of Fleming for his 2nd goal of the season and a 3-0 Smoke Eaters lead coming 2:32 mark of the middle stanza.
An infraction filled second period saw plenty of power plays for each side with both teams unable to convert on any man advantages in the frame before Langley got on the scoreboard courtesy of a shorthanded tally. Daneel Lategan gathered the puck after a Trail turnover and moved into the left face-off circle before picking the glove side of Buskey to cut the deficit to 3-1 at the 16:57 mark of the 2nd period.
The Smoke Eaters jumped ahead by a three-goal lead early on in the 3rd period as Carter Jones added his second point of the night and his 15th goal of the season. After a Langley turnover at the blue line, Jones gathered the puck and charged down the right wing before going from his forehand to his backhand before beating Fleming on the blocker side at the 3:44 mark to give Trail a 4-1 lead.
Langley got the game within two goals once again at the 10:01 mark and came via another shorthanded goal on a miscommunication behind the Smoke Eaters. Donovan Buskey dropped the puck off but it was intercepted by Ryley Lanthier as he turned and shot from the right face-off circle and past the glove side to make it a two-goal game at 4-2.
That would be as close as the Rivermen got as the Smoke Eaters locked it down from then on and picked up their third win in a row with a 4-2 victory. Donovan Buskey turned aside 20 of the 22 shots he faced in his 4th win of the season while Braedon Fleming stopped 22 of the 26 shots thrown toward his net in his 17th loss of the season.
FINAL SCORE: 4-2 Smoke Eaters
SHOTS ON GOAL: 26-22 Smoke Eaters
SMOKE EATERS PP: 2/9
SMOKE EATERS PK: 7/7
1) Kent Johnson (2-0-2)
2) Carter Jones (1-1-2)
3) Mack Byers (0-1-1)
Fortis Energy Player of the Game: Chase Dafoe (1-0-1)
The Smoke Eaters (22-23-7-3) head on the road for the first time in three weeks as they head to the Nicola Valley to face-off against the Merritt Centennials (32-15-4-3) on Saturday night at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena. Puck drop is slated for 7:00 PM with the pre-game show getting underway at 6:50 PM with a free audio stream at mixlr.com/trail-smoke-eaters as well as on pay-per-view at HockeyTV.com with the Voice of the Smoke Eaters, Trevor Miller.