It’s a must-win situation for the Trail Smoke Eaters for the remainder of its first-round playoff series.
The Smokies are on the brink of elimination after a 5-1 loss to the Westside Warriors in Game 5 of their BCHL Interior Conference quarter-final last night in West Kelowna.
Cullen Bradshaw had the lone Smoke Eater marker.
The teams jumped back on the bus for Game 6, which goes tonight at the Cominco Arena at 7 p.m. Game 7, if necessary, is set for Saturday night in West Kelowna.
It came down to a four-goal second period outburst by the Warriors that broke open a 1-1 deadlock.
The Smokies had a couple of great chances to take the lead in the first period.
The Warriors were tagged with four straight minors, which included 89 seconds worth of a two-man advantage but Trail couldn’t capitalize.
Westside had its own power play opportunities late in the period with a two-man advantage but Trail goaltender Kiefer Smiley made a pair of big stops.
The Warriors eventually broke through for the power play goal with Max French blasting the puck past Smiley with 96 seconds left in the period.
The Smokies rebounded to start the second with Bradshaw pouncing on the puck in the Westside crease for his third goal of the series just two minutes into the middle frame.
Tied at 1-1, the floodgates opened when Alex Grieve continued his role as the Warriors’ sharpshooter two minutes later notching his sixth in six games to regain the Westside lead.
That kick started a four-goal outburst that saw the Warriors dominate the final portion of the period and head to the second intermission with a commanding 5-1 lead.
That was enough for head coach Jim Ingram to give Smiley a rest and send out Matt Larose to start the third between the pipes.
The Warriors sat on their lead through a scoreless final frame and finished the game outshooting Trail 40-26.
The winner of the series will face the two-time BCHL and Royal Bank Cup champion Vernon Vipers. The Vipers received a first-round bye after finishing first in the regular season.