The Trail Smoke Eaters used a two-goal third-period and a late tally from Kent Johnson to help them to a 3-2 victory over the Vernon Vipers on Wednesday night at the Trail Memorial Centre.
The Smoke Eaters got ahead of the game with a Carter Jones tally before the Vipers answered with a goal in the 2nd and 3rd period to get their first lead of the game. Hayden Rowan tied the game with a 3rd period power play goal before Kent Johnson scored the game winner with just over five minutes remaining to help the Smoke Eaters to a one-goal victory.
The Smoke Eaters started the game with some good jump and got the lead coming in 4-on-4 play at the 5:07 mark to get a 1-0 lead. Trevor Zins dropped a pass from the middle of the ice to a rushing Carter Jones, who streaking inside the blue line and snapped a shot past the blocker side of Vipers goaltender Aiden Porter for his 7th goal of the season and a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Trail got the better of the play in the opening period that didn’t see much in the way of shots but each goaltender remained sharp. Adam Marcoux turned aside all of the 5 shots he faced in the opening frame while Aiden Porter turned stopped 6 of the 7 shots thrown at the net.
Power play chances were the story of the second period of play as the Smoke Eaters had three man advantages in the opening 10 minutes but were unable to convert but it was the Vernon power play that cashed in to tie the game at the 13:30 mark of the middle stanza.
Vernon’s newest forward, Matt Kowalski, got a pass from below the goal line and fired a shot from the slot that was met by Marcoux but he couldn’t handle the puck entirely as it was cleared from the crease with Kowalski in the right place at the right time and chipped it by the glove side to knot the game up at 1-1.
It was another power play that got Vernon their first lead of the hockey game at the 5:11 mark at the tail end of the man advantage to give them a 2-1 lead. Jack Judson wristed a shot from the mid slot that buzzed past the glove side of Marcoux to give the Vipers a lead just over the five-minute mark into the game’s final period.
The Smoke Eaters didn’t take long to get themselves on even ground as just 1:44 after the Judson power play marker, a power play goal from Trail tied the game. Hayden Rowan worked his way down the left wing and whistled a shot past the blocker side of Porter for his 10th goal of the season and knotting the game even at 2-2 at the 6:55 mark of the period.
As the game prolonged, the Smoke Eaters continued to build momentum and eventually took the lead at the 14:33 mark with Kent Johnson playing the hero. Johnson grabbed the puck at the top of the right circle and spun toward the goal and shot through Porter for his 10th goal of the season and gave the Smoke Eaters a 3-2 lead.
Adam Marcoux and the Smoke Eaters shut the door from there as he made 22 saves on 24 shots for his 7th win of the season while Aiden Porter stopped 27 of the 30 shots thrown his way in his 11th loss of the season.
FINAL SCORE: 3-2 Smoke Eaters
SHOTS ON GOAL: 30-24 Smoke Eaters
SMOKE EATERS PP: 1/6
SMOKE EATERS PK: 2/4
1) Kent Johnson (1-0-1)
2) Matt Kowalski (1-1-2)
3) Hayden Rowan (1-0-1)
Fortis Energy Player of the Game: Mack Byers (0-0-0)
The Smoke Eaters (9-10-4-2) remain on home ice as they host the Wenatchee Wild (13-9-2-0) for a Friday night showdown at the Trail Memorial Centre. Puck drop is slated for 7 p.m. with tickets available at the Smoke Eaters Main Office.