TRAIL, B.C. – The West Kelowna Warriors surrendered three 1st period goals and couldn’t come back as the Trail Smoke Eaters swept the weekend home-and-home series with a 6-3 win at Cominco Arena on Saturday night.
After a good early start for the Warriors, the Smoke Eaters, just as they did on Friday night, got ahead on the scoreboard as Kale Howarth gave the home side a 1-0 lead. Howarth came out of the right-wing corner and walked the goal line before backhanding the puck through the blocker side of Warriors netminder Nik Amundrud to put Trail ahead by a 1-0 score at the 9:40 mark of the opening period.
Just 36 seconds after Howarth opened the scoring, Andre Ghantous put the Smoke Eaters ahead by a pair of goals. Spencer McLean worked the puck free for Troy Ring at the right point and his shot got redirected up and over the glove side of Amundrud to put the Smoke Eaters ahead by a 2-0 score at the 10:26 mark of the 1st period.
Trail opened up a three-goal lead at the 15:05 mark on an odd-man rush between McLean and Blaine Caton. McLean busted through the neutral zone down the left-wing side and passed cross ice from the left-wing face-off circle to Caton on the right side and his shot beat Amundrud on the glove side to cap off a three-goal opening period for the Smokies.
The Warriors came back with a good burst of energy in the 2nd period on a terrific individual effort by Cavin Tilsley while shorthanded. The Warriors forward flipped a self-pass by Jeremy Lucchini and raced into the offensive zone as he shot past the blocker side of Smoke Eaters goaltender Tanner Marshall for his 5th goal of the season and cut the Smoke Eaters lead to 3-1.
Following the media timeout in the 2nd period, the Smoke Eaters regained their three-goal advantage as Mack Byers snapped a wrist shot past Amundrud on the glove side on the rush down the left-wing at the 12:50 mark of the 2nd period to out Trail ahead by a 4-1 lead.
Under two minutes after that, Michael Lombardi got the Warriors back to within a pair of goals on a fantastic deke and juke to the front of the goal and tallied his 11th goal of the season. Lombardi toe-dragged around a Trail defender and went to his backhand to slide the puck by Marshall to make it a 4-2 Smoke Eaters at the 14:09 mark of the frame. Marshall left the crease after that goal and was replaced by Adam Marcoux.
Before the period was out, at the 18:48 mark, the Smoke Eaters regained their three-goal lead once more on a give-and-go between Howarth and Levi Glasman. Howarth worked down the left side and feathered a pass to Glasman on the backdoor to make it a 5-2 Trail advantage before the 2nd period came to an end.
West Kelowna started the 3rd period on a power play and had a couple of chances to score that didn’t convert but did find the back of the net moments later at the 2:26 mark of the period as Jared Marino extended his point streak to eight games as he drove through the Trail defender and slipped a backhand through the legs of Marcoux for his team leading 16th goal of the season and a 5-3 Trail lead.
The scoring was capped off at the 10:05 mark of the 3rd period as Spencer McLean as he added a power play goal on the Smoke Eaters 5th attempt of the night on the man advantage as he finished off the night on the scoreboard and a 6-3 final in favour of the Smoke Eaters.
Nik Amundrud started the game in goal for the Warriors as he made 25 saves on 31 shots for his 12th loss of the season while Tanner Marshall started the game and turned aside 18 of the 20 shots he faced in the game, picking up his 10th win of the season before leaving the contest due to an injury and Adam Marcoux stopped 13 of the 14 shots he faced.
FINAL SCORE: 6-3 Smoke Eaters