The Trail Smoke Eaters doused a sizzling Merritt Centennials squad Tuesday night in Merritt with a dramatic come-from-behind 5-4 victory.
The Centennials just finished a sweep of the BCHL’s three top teams, Penticton, Nanaimo, and Langley, last week and were making a move up the Interior division standings until Trail’s two most recent additions teamed up to complete an improbable third-period comeback, and bring the Cents’ four game winning streak to an unexpected halt.
With the Smoke Eaters trailing 4-3 in the third, Passmore would score his first as a Smoke Eater to tie it at the 12 minute mark, and Brett would score the winning goal on a set up from Ryan Swanson with just 59 seconds remaining on the clock for a 5-4 victory.
Merritt dominated the first period jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first four minutes on goals from Gavin Gould and John Schiavo on a power play.
But Trail forward Max Newton netted his sixth of the season on a Dallas Calvin pass to bring the Smokies within one at 8:01 of the first. The Cents would cash in three minutes and 44 seconds later when Rhett Wilcox beat Smokie goalie Brett Clark to restore the two-goal lead.
However, the Smokies would not go away despite being outshot 11-4 in the first, as Harlan Orr would make it 3-2 at 15:17 with an assist to Craig Martin.
The teams traded goals in the second as Wilcox netted his second of the game at 11:31 to make it 4-2, but Trail hung around as Bryan Basilico dished to Dallas Calvin who beat Anthony Pupplo with less than five minutes remaining in the middle frame to draw Trail to within one.
The Cents held a decisive 21-10 edge in shots after two periods, but Trail would bear down defensively in the third and hold the Cents to just four shots on their way to the comeback.
Basilico and Newton would each get their second point of the night, assisting on Passmore’s tying goal, before Brett, a Courtney native, would win it with time winding down.
The Cents outshot the Smokies 25-16, and went 1-for-4 on the power play while Trail was 0-for-1. Calvin was named the game’s first star with a goal and an assist, while Newton was given the second-star nod and Wilcox third star.
It was Calvin’s fourth goal and sixth point in four games since returning from injury, and along with Basilico, who has eight points in his last seven games, and Newton, seven points in six games, the trio has provided much-needed offence as teams key on Smokie’s leading scorers Jake Lucchini and Charlie Zuccarini.
Trail also faced a couple former Smoke Eaters in Griffyn Martin who was traded to Merritt on Jan. 10 for future considerations and Shane Poulsen who played 42 games with Trail in parts of two seasons, 2011-13.
Coupled with an 8-4 Penticton win over the West Kelowna Warriors Tuesday, Trail gains two-valuable points on both teams, although they still are 17 points out of a playoff spot with 16 games remaining.