Penticton native Kienan Scott picked a great time to net his first goal as a Trail Smoke Eater, scoring two-minutes and 44 seconds into overtime to give the home team a 3-2 victory over the Langley Rivermen on Saturday at the Cominco Arena.
With the score tied 2-2 midway through the first overtime period, Scott Davidson poked the puck away from a Langley forward, and then a defender, sprinting up ice, and driving to the net, only to be stymied by Rivermen goalie Darren Martin, who then made another pad save on Bryan Basilico on the rebound. But the puck popped out of the pileup to Scott at the side of the net, and the 18-year-old forward backhanded it over a sprawling Martin to give the Smokies their sixth win of the season.
“I came off the bench, and I saw Scotty (Davidson) made a good play to get the puck to the net and it was just a mad scramble,” said Scott. “I think I got two or three whacks at it and the last one I just barely got it in on my backhand.”
The Smokies were without injured forwards Dallas Calvin and Robbie Johnson, moving defencemen Sheldon Hubbard and Dexter McLeod to the forward position on a line with Connor Brown-Maloski.
As a unit, the Smoke Eaters looked nervous in front of their home crowd, at times trying to do too much, and failing to finish a number of creative plays. However, they scored when it counted and, while not the prettiest goals, the team found a way to win.
“The result? Well we get two points, but at the end of the day we know as a group that’s not our best effort,” said Trail coach Nick Deschenes. “We’re better than that and we have to play better at home, we’re just a little bit of a mental block, we’re doing too many things and complicating our game.”
Adam Todd was named the game’s first star after a brilliant performance in net for the Smoke Eaters. The Courtenay native made several key saves, blocking 36 shots on the night including four big stops in OT, and surpassing his win total of last year with his fifth victory.
“Adam was amazing tonight,” said Scott. “He kept us in it.”
The Rivermen opened the scoring when Gage Torrel pounced on a rebound and beat Todd at 6:43 of the first period. But the Smokies special teams weathering a five-minute major midway through the first period, after defenceman Jake Zeleznikar was hit and went down awkwardly into the boards. He remained down on the ice for nearly 30 minutes, until paramedics transferred him to a nearby hospital, where it was determined he had a broken femur, and will miss the remainder of the season.
Trail would tie it with the lone goal in the second period despite being outshot 12-5, when Charlie Zuccarini forced a turnover and beat Martin with the backhand to notch his team-leading eighth goal of the season.
“I’m just the guy who sits there and taps the puck in, not really do anything special,” said Zuccarini. “Everyone seems to kind of mesh. We change the lines a lot so everybody’s learning to work well together.”
Harlan Orr would give Trail the lead 2:08 into the third period on the power play. Jake Lucchini sent Zuccarini streaking down the left side, his shot ping-ponged off the goalie then the defenceman to Orr who swatted the puck into the open net.
However, the Rivermen would tie it 37 seconds later, after Todd denied Torrel with a nice pad save, Dante Hahn would bang in the rebound.
But Todd shut the door after that, making several big saves including one in the dying minutes when he robbed UMass-Lowell commit Evan Anderson who took a cross-ice pass and fired it at the yawning cage, but Todd slid over and made a spectacular save to preserve the tie and bring it to OT.
“We didn’t really play that well, but we came away with two points and that’s what really matters,” said Zuccarini. “We have a good group of guys, everybody gets along, a lot of talent, and we can win a lot of games.”
The Rivermen outshot Trail 38-27, and went 0-for-3 on the power play while the Smokies were 1-for-5. Scott received second star honours, while Zuccarini was named third star, and Jake Lucchini the Fortis Energy Player of the Game.
Trail’s next home game goes Wednesday night versus the Salmon Arm Silverbacks at 7 p.m.
Smokies car give away
One lucky fan will drive away in a new-to-you car as the Trail Smoke Eaters celebrate Wacky Wednesday at their home game Wednesday at the Cominco Arena when they host the Salmon Arm Silverbacks at 7:30 p.m. The Smoke Eaters will raffle off a vehicle donated by AM Ford with tickets $3 each or 4-for-$10, and only 1,500 sold. Also, the Spud and Sud Shack will have $3 specials, so don’t miss out.
Admission is only $5, and free for children 12 and under. Doors open at 6:45 p.m.