The West Kelowna Warriors couldn’t overcome a three-goal 2nd period from the Trail Smoke Eaters in a 5-3 loss on Saturday night at Royal LePage Place.
In a special teams battle that raged all night long, it was the Warriors that struck first on the man advantage coming at the 6:00 mark of the opening period on a rebound. Jake Harrison had his point shot stopped by Trail netminder Adam Marcoux but the rebound was pounced on in the slot from Lucas Cullen and he put it past Marcoux for his 5th goal of the season and a 1-0 Warriors lead.
The Smoke Eaters didn’t take long to retaliate as just 23 seconds after the Cullen marker, Carter Jones tied the game up at one. The Warriors turned the puck over inside their defensive zone and Jones got a pass from Tyler Ghirardosi at the top of the right circle and fired a shot up and over the blocker side of Warriors netminder Nik Amundrud to even the game up.
Another power play resulted in the Warriors taking the lead for the second time as at the 14:03 mark of the period, the Warriors captain found the back of the net for the second straight game. Wyatt Head wristed a shot from the left face-off circle and Jared Marino redirected the puck over the glove of Marcoux from the top of the crease for his 12th goal of the season and a 2-1 Warriors lead heading into the dressing room after 20 minutes.
Trail would take advantage on the power play and tied the game at two just 45 seconds into the 2nd period on a rebound. Jeremy Lucchini’s point shot was stopped by Amundrud but the rebound kicked out to Braeden Tuck and he converted on the man advantage to tie the game at 2-2.
The Smoke Eaters took their first lead of the game at the 8:44 mark of the middle stanza and came courtesy of another power play and a big scramble in front of the net. The Smokies had an extended 5-on-3 power play that was coming to an end as the puck was being jammed for on the blocker side of Amundrud and was pushed over the line as the time came to an end on the two-man advantage as Andre Ghantous got the last touch on the loose puck and gave Trail a 3-2 lead.
Trail extended their lead to two goals at the 14:05 mark of the 2nd period and it came shorthanded as Carter Jones added his second goal of the night. The Warriors had trouble exiting their zone on the power play and Jones took the loose puck, turned away from a checker in the left wing corner and walked the goal line, outwaiting Amundrud to slide the puck by his glove side for a 4-2 Smoke Eaters advantage.
Michael Lombardi got the Warriors within a goal with just 41 seconds remaining in a high-scoring 2nd period as he put in a rebound on the blocker side of Marcoux after a Harrison wrist shot was stopped that made it a one-goal game as Lombardi’s 8th cut the Trail lead to 4-3.
Despite plenty of chances in the final period, including a crossbar hit by Willie Reim, Tuck fired into the empty net with just 5 seconds remaining in the game and sealed a 5-3 victory for the Smoke Eaters, snapping a six-game losing skid.
Nik Amundrud wasn’t faced with a heavy workload on Saturday night but turned aside 17 of the 21 shots he faced in the game for his 10th loss of the season while Adam Marcoux made 30 saves on 33 shots for his first win as a member of the Smoke Eaters and his 3rd victory of the season overall.