The Trail Smoke Eaters suffered their third straight loss of the Interior Division Semi Final as they dropped a 5-2 decision to the Vernon Vipers in Game #5 on Friday night at Kal Tire Place.
The game started with plenty of jump on both sides as the Smoke Eaters got the game’s first power play and opened the scoring for the fourth time in five games. Kent Johnson worked the puck up to the left point for Trevor Zins as he slid the pass across to the right side for Carter Jones, who snapped a shot over the glove of Vipers goaltender Aidan Porter for his 6th goal of the playoffs and a 1-0 lead at the 4:32 lead in the opening period.
The Vipers were the team to apply the pressure in the 2nd period and get the game tied at the 7:50 mark of the 2nd period on a shorthanded effort from Connor Marritt. The Smoke Eaters had the puck stolen at the blue line as Marritt was able to take it away and work down the left wing as he snapped a shot past the blocker side of Smoke Eaters goaltender Donovan Buskey from the left face-off circle to tie the game at 1-1 at the 7:50 mark of the middle stanza.
Just under two minutes later, the Vipers grabbed their first lead of the game at the 9:41 mark as Teddy Wooding was the beneficiary of a nice pass into the left face-off circle. Ben Sanderson was able to work the puck from below the goal line to the face-off circle where Wooding collected and buried a shot past the blocker side of Buskey to give the Vipers a 2-1 advantage in the middle frame.
Just over a minute after that, the Smoke Eaters were able to get the game on even terms at the 10:44 mark of the middle stanza. After a bit of sustained pressure in the offensive zone, Hayden Rowan had a puck come to him in the left face-off circle as he slapped a shot over the shoulders of Porter for his 2nd goal of the playoffs and a 2-2 tie.
Vernon scored their third goal of the period and the eventual game winning marker at the 15:04 mark of the 2nd period courtesy of a power play. Carver Watson had his left point shot stopped by Buskey with the rebound squirting free on the left side as Matt Kowalski lifted a backhand shot over the shoulder of the Trail goaltender to give the Vipers a one-goal lead heading into the 3rd period.
Early in the 3rd period, the Vipers were able to extend their lead to a pair of goals on a misplay from behind the goal. Buskey came out to play the puck to his left with Coleton Bilodeau forcing pressure on before stealing the puck and wrapping it around on the blocker side to Vernon a 4-2 lead just 1:12 into the final period of play.
Trail was shorthanded in the final moments of the 3rd period and pulled their goaltender before Teddy Wooding would find the empty net from his own zone for his second goal of the game coming on the power play at the 19:14 mark to ice the game and make it a 5-2 final for the Vipers.
Aidan Porter turned aside 22 of the 24 shots he faced in his 7th win of the postseason while Donovan Buskey stopped 15 of the 19 shots he faced in the game in his 4th loss of the playoffs before being relieved by Adam Marcoux who stopped all 5 shots thrown his way in his limited action.
FINAL SCORE: 5-2 Vipers
SHOTS ON GOAL: 25-24 Vipers
SMOKE EATERS PP: 1/5
SMOKE EATERS PK: 1/3
1) Connor Marritt (1-1-2)
2) Matt Kowalski (1-1-2)
3) Teddy Wooding (2-0-2)
Fortis Energy Player of the Game: Ben Sanderson (1-0-1)
The Smoke Eaters will look to keep their season alive as they head back to the Trail Memorial Centre for Game #6 of their Interior Division Semi Final against the Vernon Vipers, trailing the series 3-2. Puck drop is slated for 7:00 PM with tickets are available at the Smoke Eaters Main Office or at the door ahead of the opening face-off.