Greater Trail Bantam Tier 2 goalie Josh Ballarin covers the rebound before the Nelson Leafs’ player can capitalize. Ballarin backstopped the Smokies to a 3-1 win in the first playoff game on Saturday at the Cominco Arena.

Bantam Tier 2: Bantam Smokies take Game 1 over Leafs

The Trail Bantam Tier 2 Smoke Eaters won their first game of the playoffs at the Cominco Arena on Saturday.

The Trail Bantam Tier 2 Smoke Eaters won their first game of the playoffs at the Cominco Arena on Saturday with a tight 3-1 victory over the Nelson Tier 2 Leafs.

In Game 1 of a first to four-points playoff matchup, midway through the second period Bodie Gallo broke through the defence and Marty Ingram followed up, gathering the loose puck and beating Nelson goalie Brody Herridge to put the Bantam Smokies up 2-0 and score what proved to be the winning goal.

The victory gives the Smokies a leg up on the playoff that will see the winner earn a spot in the B.C. Bantam Tier 2 provincials next month.

The Smokies opened the scoring at 10:29 of the first period, when Herrige stopped a Tom McConnachie wrist shot, but Owen Titus pounced on the rebound to put the Trail Bantams up 1-0.

Following Ingram’s goal, the Leafs would pressure in the third, but Josh Ballarin came up with several big saves to keep the Leafs off the board.

That is until the midway mark of the third period. After Nate Ingram was sent off for roughing, the Leafs would capitalize on the power play a minute later when Hayden Klashinsky’s point shot found its way through traffic, beating a screened Ballarin on the blocker side to draw the Leafs within one.

The Bantam Smokies shut the Leafs down after that and Bradley Ross would score into an empty net with six seconds remaining.

With a win tonight in Nelson, Trail can clinch the provincial berth.

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