The Salmon Arm Silverbacks came back from a 2-1 deficit to beat the Trail Smoke Eaters in overtime and sweep the two-game series at the Cominco Arena on Saturday.
Silverbacks captain Akito Hirose scored with six seconds left in the 3-on-3 extra frame to lift Salmon Arm to their third straight win to start the BCHL season.
Salmon Arm broke in on a 3-on-1, but Hirose kept, made a quick move into the slot and wired a low shot past Smokies goalie Logan Terness to give the Gorillas a 3-2 victory.
Despite the loss, the Smoke Eaters earned their first point of the season after falling to Salmon Arm on Friday night 4-2, and dropping their first two home games to the Penticton Vees.
The Smoke Eaters got off to a rough start in the first period, with Salmon Arm dominating play in part thanks to undisciplined penalties from Trail. Former Major Junior player William Poirier scored his second of the season 16:52 into the first period on the power play, firing a backdoor one-timer past a sprawling Terness for a 1-0 ‘Backs lead.
Salmon Arm outshot the Smoke Eaters 21-4 in the period but solid play from the rookie goaltender kept the Smokies in it. Terness, who turns 17 on Wednesday, started his first game of the season and earned the Energy Player of the Game.
Trail’s Kent Johnson evened the score with a shorthanded goal early in the middle frame. Johnson and Tyler Ghirardosi forced a turnover in the ‘Backs zone and Johnson sent a quick backhand-forehand shot past Salmon Arm rookie goalie Dylan Kruss just 74 seconds in.
Trail took the lead late in the second when Colby Elmer scored a breakaway goal with a slick deke on Kruss with 1:15 to play. Terness made a good pad save off a Salmon Arm rush, and Trail quickly transitioned the other way, with Max Kryski head-manning a pass to Elmer, who broke in all alone on the Salmon Arm goalie.
The Smoke Eaters played well defensively in the third and held the 2-1 lead late into the game. Silverbacks’ veteran Noah Wakeford, however, finished a 2-on-1 with Daniel Rybarik to tie the game with 4:16 remaining.
Salmon Arm had their chance to win it in regulation after Trail took a penalty with 46 seconds left on the clock. The penalty carried over into the overtime but the Smoke Eaters killed it off, and had a glorious chance to win it on a Michael Colello breakaway midway through the five-minute OT, but Kruss made a huge glove save. With time winding down, Ozar set up Johnson alone in front, but the rookie goalie kicked out his right pad to keep the Backs alive.
A bad bounce over the stick of Ghirardosi sent the Silverbacks the other way for Hirose’s last-second game winner.
Salmon Arm outshot Trail 45-27 and were 1-for-7 on the power play, while Trail went 0-for-5.
In Friday’s match, the game was a close-fought matchup that went down to the wire, but the Silverbacks emerged with a 4-2 victory.
Liam Freeborn and Colella scored for the Smokies. Poirier scored twice for Salmon Arm, while Wakeford and Rybarik tallied singles including an empty netter.
Salmon Arm held a 32-31 edge in shots and were 1-for-2 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill.
Trail is back on Cominco Ice on Wednesday when they face off against the Powell River Kings.
The Kings, led by former Smoke Eater Levi Glasman, are 4-0 this season and coming off a 7-2 drubbing of the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Sunday. Glasman had a five-point night (2G, 3A) against the Capitals as the Kings went 3-for-7 on the power play and outshot the Caps 39-18.
Glasman earned BCHL Player of the Week honours for his torrid pace and leads the league in scoring with five goals and 10 points.
The Kings are strong up and down the line up and will prove another formidable opponent for a Smoke Eaters team still looking for its first win.
It will be a busy four-games-in-five-days run for the Smokies. Following their home match against the Kings, they travel to Wenatchee on Friday, West Kelowna Saturday, and return home for a Sunday game against the Victoria Grizzlies.
The puck drop for the Smokies-Kings game is 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the Cominco Arena.