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Overtime goal spoils Smokies’ opening night

The West Kelowna Warriors played spoilers on the Trail Smoke Eaters’ season debut Friday at the Cominco Arena.

Trail squandered a 3-1 second-period lead and West Kelowna’s Wyatt Head scored unassisted in overtime to give the visiting Warriors a 4-3 OT win.

Trail captain Braeden Tuck scored twice and Hayden Rowan notched his first BCHL goal for the Smokies.

Adam Marcoux made 31 saves, including many key ones, to keep Trail in the game and earn a single point.

However, it would be a second-period miscue between Marcoux and defenceman Jeremy Smith that gave the Warriors the opening they needed to get back in the game.

The Smokies appeared in total control five minutes into the second period thanks to back-to-back goals by Tuck and Rowan that spotted Trail a 3-1 lead while holding a 20-9 shots on goal advantage.

But that error midway through the second, which ended up in the back of the Trail net off the stick of West Kelowna’s Mike Hardman, cut the deficit to 3-2 with one period to play.

It took just 63 seconds into the third period before Cody Paivarinta snapped a shot from the slot and suddenly West Kelowna was back on even terms at 3-3.

Play stayed close the vest for the rest of the period with both Marcoux and West Kelowna netminder Connor Hopkins, who made 31 saves in the game, closing the door on both offences.

The teams went to a 3-on-3 overtime and midway through the extra frame, Head used his speed to break in alone on Marcoux and pick the top corner for the game winner.

The game opened with the usual festivities for the season opener. The lights were dimmed and player introduction were made. A banner honouring and supporting the Humboldt Broncos was displayed at one end of the rink.

Fans got a taste of the new lighting in the Cominco Arena. Once the opening ceremonies were over, the darkened rink was immediately back to fully lit, prompting a gasp from the crowd as quickly the rink went from dark to bright.

West Kelowna struck first to quiet the big crowd of 2,195 fans with Mason Richey getting in behind the Smokies defence and snapping a shot past Marcoux at 4:23 of the first.

A parade of penalties prevented any flow to the period and sure enough a special team opportunity allowed Trail to notch its first goal of the season – shorthanded.

Tuck trailing on the play cashed on in a turnover caused by Blake Sidoni and he wasted no time ripping it past Hopkins to knot the game at 1-1.

The second period showed the Smokies gathering steam and two great goals had them up 3-1 four minutes into the frame.

Tuck potted his second on a perfect feed from Michael Hodge 74 seconds into the period.

Then at the 4:08 mark, Player of the Game Trevor Zins’ shot was redirected in a textbook play by Hayden Rowan to give the home team all the momentum.

That is until Hardman cashed in on a Trail error and the Warriors began their climb back for the win.

The two teams are back at it tonight in West Kelowna.

Trail’s next home game is Sept. 14 when they host Salmon Arm.

Guy Bertrand

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