Smoke Eaters Surrender Five In Third In Loss To Vipers
The Trail Smoke Eaters used a two-goal performance from Mack Byers to even the game midway through the 3rd period but five goals from the Vernon Vipers in the final frame sunk them in a 6-3 loss on Friday night at the Trail Memorial Centre.
The visitors showed no sign of any bus legs in the early going as the Vipers were first to hit the scoresheet at the 3:05 mark of the opening period. Logan Cash gathered a puck on the right-wing side as he wheeled his way into the slot and, with a defender on his back, backhanded a shot over the blocker side of Smoke Eaters goaltender Donovan Buskey to give Vernon a 1-0 lead.
The Smoke Eaters were quick to respond, however, and got the game evened up courtesy of a power play at the 6:26 mark of the opening frame. Trevor Zins snapped a pass from the mid-point to the right face-off circle for Carter Jones who spotted Kent Johnson on the left side with a feed as Johnson took the pass and wristed a shot over the blocker side for his 17th goal of the season and tied the game at 1-1.
It was the first start in front of the home crowd for Buskey, who was one of the better Smoke Eaters in the opening 20 minutes of play as he made 12 saves on 13 shots to hold the fort in the Trail end of the ice while Bradley Cooper turned aside 6 of the 7 shots thrown his way in the opening period.
A scoring chance early in the 2nd period went by the way side for the Vipers as Elan Bar-Lev-Wise as fed in the slot from Tyler Ho to the blocker side below the goal line and the Bar-Lev-Wise shot rang off the glove side post and out on the blocker side to keep the game tied at 1-1.
The Smoke Eaters would take their first lead of the game later in the period courtesy of a snap shot from Mack Byers off the rush. Tyler Ghirardosi bumped the puck to the middle of the ice for a skating Byers in the neutral zone as he collected and let a wrist shot go from the top of the left face-off circle and beat Cooper on the glove side for his 12th goal of the season and a 2-1 Trail advantage heading into the 3rd period.
The Vipers attacked in the 3rd period and began their final period of scoring just 45 seconds into the final frame as Connor Marritt tied the game at 2-2. Josh Latta centered from the right corner as Marritt drove to the blocker side post and chipped in the pass to get the game at even terms.
Lane Zablocki gave the Vipers their second lead of the game at the 4:32 mark of the final frame on a scramble at the front of the net. The puck was thrown from the blue line to the net where Jesse Lansdell dug it free and pushed it to the top of the crease before having the puck deflect off of the skate of Zablocki and into the net for a 3-2 lead in favour of the visitors.
Mack Byers continued his strong night and tallied his second goal of the game at the 10:34 mark of the 3rd period to get the game tied once more at 3-3. Max Kryski started the play with a tenacious fore check before centering for Bryce Anderson in the right face-off circle as he dished off for Byers at the blocker side post, chipping it past Cooper to knot the game at three.
The Vipers were too much to handle, however, and took the lead for good at the 15:19 mark of the 3rd period coming off the stick of Lansdell. Zablocki had his shot from the left point knocked down in front of the goal by Lansdell as the Vipers forward swept the puck past the blocker side of Buskey to give Vernon a 4-3 lead late in the frame.
A chance at one end led to Josh Latta giving the Vipers a 5-3 lead at the 18:06 mark with a Smoke Eaters defender missing a rebound chance that led to the puck going the other way and Latta moving in alone as he snapped a shot past the glove side of Buskey to extend the lead to a pair of goals.
Connor Marritt added his second goal of the night on an empty netter to give Vernon a 6-3 victory. Donovan Buskey turned aside 25 of the 30 shots he faced in his 2nd loss of the season while Bradley Cooper stopping 28 of the 31 shots thrown his way in his 7th win of the season.
FINAL SCORE: 6-3 Vipers
SHOTS ON GOAL: 31-31
SMOKE EATERS PP: 1/4
SMOKE EATERS PK: 4/4
1) Mack Byers (2-0-2)
2) Jesse Lansdell (1-1-2)
3) Josh Latta (1-2-3)
Fortis Energy Player of the Game: Kent Johnson (1-0-1)
The Smoke Eaters (18-22-7-3) continue their six-game home stand on Saturday night as they host the Merritt Centennials (28-14-4-2) at the Trail Memorial Centre for the fourth “Retro Night” of the season. Puck drop is slated for 7:00 PM with tickets available for purchase at the Smoke Eaters Main Office as well as at the door ahead of the opening face-off.