The Trail Smoke Eaters stormed back from a two-goal deficit in the third period to beat the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 5-4 on Friday at the Cominco Arena.
Smokies forward Dallas Calvin netted the winning goal with 1:34 to play in the third period to give the Smokies their second win in six games. Jake Lucchini and Charlie Zuccarini worked the puck to Calvin in the slot, and the Trail forward’s blast deflected low off a Bulldog defender past Alberni goalie Billy Christopoulos for the win.
The win breaks a four-game losing streak and was a rare comeback win after dropping a number of close games when leading in the third period.
Kienan Scott opened the scoring taking a Jeremy Lucchini pass and beating starter Nathan Warren for his first of two on the night. Craig Martin would make it 2-0 on a Jake Lucchini setup, chasing Warren from the net after the Bulldog netminder let in two goals on five shots. It was the Trail native’s 10th goal of the season and second goal in as many games since rejoining the Smokies after suffering an injury that kept him out of action for almost two months.
However, the Bulldogs would start their own comeback on the power play when Brett Stewart beat Brett Clark at 13:11 to make it 2-1. Then three Alberni goals in the second period by Mitch Makin, Marcus Russell, and Justion Mareck would give the Bulldogs a 4-2 lead heading into the third.
But Scott would spark the comeback for Trail, scoring his second of the night and ninth of the season, on a pass from Max Newton at 8:55 of the third to get the Smokies back within one. Newton would then draw Trail even when he jumped on a give away from the Bulldog defenceman and beat Christopoulos over the blocker at 16:27, two minutes before Calvin netted the winner.
Scoring from all four lines is key for Trail, and getting production from rookies like 18-year-old Scott and 17-year-old Newton bodes well for next year’s team. Newton, a Vancouver native, is the hottest Smoke Eater of late, netting four goals and four assists in his last six games, including a goal and as assist in the Alberni match.
“There’s a lot of positives with our young players stepping up their game of late,” said Trail coach Nick Deschenes. “We’re just going to try to maximize each day moving forward and see what the results bring.”
The 14-23-0-2 Smokies have an uphill battle to secure a playoff spot, trailing the Merritt Centennials by 14 points for the final playoff berth with 29 games remaining in the regular season.
Calvin was named the game’s first star, while Scott and Newton received second and third stars respectively. The Bulldogs outshot Trail 48-40 on the night.