Marcus Mitchell netted a hat trick and Massimo Rizzo scored twice as the Penticton Vees rolled to a 6-1 victory over the Trail Smoke Eaters on Saturday at the Cominco Arena to force a decisive Game 7 in Penticton on Monday.
The Vees were not about to go quietly after a 4-3 Game 5 loss to the Trail Smoke Eaters on Friday at the South Okanagan Events Centre, which gave Trail a 3-2 series lead and the prospect of closing out the series at home in Game 6.
With the largest crowd of the season pushing 3,200, nerves may have got the best of the Smokies, as they came out flat in the first period.
Penticton carried the play but couldn’t generate many prime scoring opportunities until late in the period. Trail goalie Adam Marcoux made a good stop on a redirected James Miller point shot, but Mitchell buried the rebound for a 1-0 Vees lead with 2:13 to play in the opening period.
Trail pushed back early in the second but couldn’t put the finishing touches on a couple of good rushes. The Vees made it 2-0 when Mitchell swooped in, drove to the net, and backhanded the puck past the Trail goalie at 15:58.
Penticton took a 3-0 lead when Rizzo wired a shot from the left circle over a diving Marcoux that went in-and-out so fast it was waved off by the official but was deemed a good goal upon further discussion after the next whistle.
Four minutes later, Mitchell completed the hat trick tipping in a shot from Jordan Henderson for a 4-0 lead with just under four minutes to go, as Penticton outshot the Smokies 15-8 in the middle frame.
The Smoke Eaters broke the shutout when Tyler Ghirardosi and Andre Ghantous broke in on a 2-0n-1. Ghantous feathered a perfect pass to Ghirardosi who lifted it over Penticton goalie Adam Scheel to make it 4-1 just 79 seconds into the third.
But that’s as close as Trail would get, as Rizzo and Wyatt Sloboshan added two more Vees markers for the 6-1 victory.
The Vees outshot Trail 36-19 in an uncharacteristically clean playoff hockey game that saw only a coincidental minor penalty called until the final 43 seconds when Ryan Moon was sent off for boarding.
Game 7 goes in Penticton on Monday with the puck drop at 7 p.m.