Bantam Smokies win playoff berth

The Greater Trail Bantam Tier 2 Smoke Eaters remained undefeated and secured a playoff spot in the Bantam Tier 2 provincials in Cranbrook.

The Greater Trail Bantam Tier 2 Smoke Eaters remained undefeated and secured a playoff spot in the Bantam Tier 2 provincials in Cranbrook on Monday with a 7-5 victory over Vancouver.

Ethan Chang led the team with two goals and three assists, as the Bantam Smokies jumped out to a 5-1 second-period lead, then fended off a concerted coastal attack in the third.

Vancouver came out strong and scored two goals early to make it 5-3, but Trail’s Brad Ross tallied their sixth goal to extend the lead. Vancouver’s Cameron Luk would score two more to make it agonizingly close, but  Trail goalie Josh Ballarin shut the door and Ross notched his second into an open net to seal the win for the Smoke Eaters.

Trail played a winless Prince George team in its final game of the round robin on Tuesday afternoon but the score was unavailable at press time. Regardless, Trail has locked up first place by virtue of its 6-5 win over Campbell River Sunday and defeat of Vancouver Monday. The two teams, Campbell River and Vancouver, played Tuesday night to determine the second seed in the playoff round today.

In the other pool, a crucial 5-3 victory for Cranbrook over an undefeated and heavily favoured North Shore Winter Club (NSWC) on Monday kept the host team in the running for a playoff spot, along with Vanderhoof and West Kelowna. The top two seeds from each pool advance with first place in Pool A playing second place in Pool B and vice versa.

After going 1-1 on Sunday, the Female Bantam Wildcats had their playoff hopes seriously compromised by the Richmond Ravens in a 4-0 loss Monday in Castlegar. Surrey and South Island remain undefeated in the round robin with the final games going today. Castlegar played South Island on Tuesday (score was unavailable) and play Kelowna at 1 p.m. today.

The Wildcats have a mathematical chance at the playoffs but would need South Island and Richmond to lose its remaining games to make it into Wednesday’s final.

The top two teams meet at 7 p.m. at the Castlegar Rec Complex.