The Trail Smoke Eaters held off a stubborn Merritt Centennials squad last night in Merritt to continue their undefeated road record in January.
The Smokies took a 3-0 lead into the third period and held off a late Cents rally to score a 4-2 win last night in the Cents’ home rink.
Erik Cooper, Nic DeSousa, Sam Mellor and Adam Boytinck scored for Trail while netminder Matt Larose turned aside 33 shots for his eighth win of the season.
The win, Trail’s sixth in its last seven games, also increased the Smokies stellar road record of late. The club is undefeated in five road games this month and have only lost twice on the road in its last 10 games away from the Cominco Arena.
DeSousa opened the scoring for Trail off a pass from Sam Mellor seven minutes into the game
DeSousa picked up three points to stretch his point streak to six games.
Boytinck cashed in on scramble in front of Merritt goalie Lino Chimienti with three minutes to play to send Trail into the first break leading 2-0.
Cooper came away from scrum in front of the Merritt goal with his 13th goal of the season midway through the second period.
The Smokies penalty killing unit saw extra duty with four consecutive penalties during the middle frame.
Merritt cut the deficit to 3-2 with five minutes to play before Mellor iced the win an empty net goal.
The Smokies added Jordan Bauer to last night’s lineup. The six-foot-one, 195lbs forward began the season with the Melfort Mustangs of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
The 19-year-old Edmonton native had a short six-game stint with the Western Hockey League’s Kootenay Ice in the 2008-09 season.
The Smokies face both ends of the Interior Division spectrum this weekend as they host the struggling Quesnel Millionaires on Friday and the front-running Vernon Vipers on Saturday to close out the month of January.
The team will have seven games in February to wrap up the regular season, including five on the road. The season culminates on Feb. 19 back in Merritt.