The Trail Smoke Eaters came close to eliminating the West Kelowna Warriors, but would fall 4-4 in overtime on Tuesday at Royal LePage Place in Kelowna.
A victory would have dealt a fatal blow to the Warriors chances to make the playoffs, but a last minute goal by Jason Cotton in the 4-on-4 overtime period kept the Warriors in the loop.
“We’re playing against teams that are fighting for playoff spots,” said Trail captain Jake Lucchini. “These are exciting games to play in, they’re really high intensity and we’re right there.”
Trail outplayed West K in the first period but trailed 1-0 heading into the second after Tanner Campbell popped in a rebound over the shoulder of Brett Clark to make it 1-0.
The Warriors took a 2-0 lead early in the middle frame when Tyler Kunz’s slap shot went off the post and in. But as Trail has done all year, they battled back. Max Newton deflected a Jeremy Lucchini point shot past Scott Patton at 11:07, and 34 seconds later Kienan Scott would score unassisted to tie it at 2.
The Smoke Eaters would take the lead at 14:28 when Scott took a feed from Conner Wynne and beat Patton for his 15th goal of the year. However, less than four minutes later, Kyle Marino tucked one by Clark to tie it 3-3.
Desperate for the two points, the Warriors dominated in the third, outshooting the Smokies 14-4 but Clark stood tall and West K failed to find the equalizer.
The Smokies killed a penalty in the opening two minutes, but at 4:18 Cotton gathered up a loose puck in front and wired it top shelf for the Warriors victory.
With Dallas Calvin out with injury, West Kelowna keyed on Lucchini and Martin and held them off the score sheet.
“It was a tough couple games for us,” said Lucchini. “We just couldn’t get anything going and it was tough but those games happen and hopefully we’ll get it done on Saturday.”
The Salmon Arm Silverbacks also won in overtime Tuesday defeating the Langley Rivermen 4-3, to remain tied with West Kelowna for fourth with 64 points. Merritt currently sits two points back, but has two games in hand on the Warriors and one game on Salmon Arm.
The Warriors wind up their season on Saturday with a game against Surrey, while Merritt played Surrey Wednesday, face Salmon Arm on Friday and Trail in Merritt on Saturday. Salmon Arm plays its final game against Penticton on Saturday.