If the Trail Smoke Eaters didn’t have bad luck, they’d have no luck at all.
The Smokies are hurting and have dressed only 13 skaters in most of their matches last week and again against Merritt Wednesday, yet they still manage to battle and keep games close.
Up to the game Wednesday, the Smokies had split their season series with a second-place Merrit team, two wins, two losses and a tie, and were looking to add to that total.
However, after taking a first period lead, the Cents stormed back and Brandon Bruce spoiled a great individual performance by Trail forward Garrett McMullen, by blasting a puck past the Trail goalie to give the Centennials a 4-3 win in overtime.
McMullen netted a natural hat trick in the first period to pace the Smokies to a 3-0 lead over the Centennials, a lead they held heading into the third.
However, the 17 shots Merritt peppered Smokie goalie Lyndon Stanwood with in the second period was a good indication the Cents weren’t yet ready to roll over.
Merritt’s Brendan Lamont scored the first goal early in the third and Jakob Reickert and Chad Brears netted the second and tying goals within 38 seconds of each other mid-way through the third to force OT.
The Merritt win over Trail gives them a four-point lead on the Prince George Spruce Kings for second spot in the Interior Conference.
With the Smokies season winding down there are only three more home games and two of them go this weekend when Trail hosts the Spruce Kings.
The Spruce Kings boast the BCHL’s top scorer in Paul De Jersey, and a lethal Fitzgerald trio, while former Smokie and Prince George captain Ben Matthews makes another return to his old stomping grounds.
The games go Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Cominco Arena.
Merritt makes another visit to Trail for the last home game Mar. 9.