Greater Trail’s Tier 2 Midget Smokies battled their way to a 7-2 victory over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on Sunday to win gold at the annual GTMHA Midget Tier 2 Tournament in Trail and Rossland on the weekend.
The host team got off to a rough start losing to Colorado’s Highland Hills team in the first match, but rebounded to win four straight games on their way to gold.
“The boys really pulled it together,” said Smokies head coach David Ferraro. “You have to be proud of them, they came together at the right time, and I couldn’t be happier for them.”
In Sunday’s final, Smokies goalie Kevin Engman was stellar in the crease and also set up two goals as the Smokies rallied in the final two periods for the 7-2 victory over the Silverbacks.
Salmon Arm jumped out to a 1-0 lead at 16:39 of the first period, but Trail tied it when Kai Birks kicked it into overdrive, blew by the defenceman and beat ‘Backs goalie Domenic Donata five hole at 11:34.
The Silverbacks carried the play through most of the first period, but the turning point came with about 90 seconds left. With the Midget Silverbacks swarming the Trail net, Engman made a huge pad save off what looked like a sure goal to keep the game deadlocked at 1-1.
“Kevin is the backbone of the team,” said Ferraro. “He has been for three years, I’ve coached him for two, and you know what, he leads this team right from the back and we couldn’t ask for a better goaltender.”
The Smokies responded and the tide turned in the the second period. Trail’s Hayden Livingston got the team going when he banged in a rebound after a mad scramble in the Salmon Arm crease to give Trail a 2-1 lead 4:07 into the middle frame. Just over a minute later, Max Profili fed Lucas Anselmo in the slot and he wired it over the glove of Donata for a two-goal lead.
The Smokies kept the pressure on, and Anselmo scored his second of the night, knocking down a clearing attempt, then sniping it over the blocker of Donata to put Trail up 4-1. Trail then made it 5-1 before the period was out, when Engman cleared the puck to Jordan Sheets who hit Livingston breaking up the middle. The Smokies forward flew in on a breakaway and with the defender hooking him, managed to one-hand the puck through the pads of the Silverbacks goalie for a highlight reel goal.
And the highlight reel kept rolling in the third. Engman earned his second point of the night, when he cleared the puck to Knight who skated end-to-end with a head of steam, turned the Salmon Arm defender inside-out, then beat Donata five-hole at 14:53 of the third.
Smokies defenceman Derick Ferraro made it 7-1 on a shot from the point midway through the final frame, before the Silverbacks added one more with 7:49 to play to complete the scoring.
In the round robin, the Midget Smokies lost their first game to Highland Hills Jaguars 3-2, before beating the Vernon Vipers 2-0 and the Creston Chiefs 3-2 to qualify for the semifinal.
The Smokies faced the Clearwater Icehawks in the semifinal Sunday morning, and jumped out to a 2-0 lead. But Trail got into penalty trouble and the Icehawks battled back tying it at 2-2 then taking a 3-2 lead.
However, the Smokies scored two quick goals to retake the lead, then held on for the 4-3 victory and a berth into the tournament final.
“The boys played really well this morning, and came out banging and crashing so it was a good game,” said Ferraro. “We knew our backs was against the wall. We couldn’t do anything different, we had to win.”
The gold medal is the first for the Trail Tier 2 Midgets since last winning their home tournament in 2013 with a 3-2 victory over the Merritt Centennials.