Smokies complete comeback thriller

Trail defenceman Ryan Swanson netted the winner in overtime as the Trail Smoke Eaters staged a dramatic third-period comeback win.

Trail defenceman Ryan Swanson netted the winner in overtime as the Trail Smoke Eaters staged a dramatic third-period comeback win on the road, downing the Merritt Centennials 5-4 in BCHL action on Friday.

Despite a late start after a bus breakdown and prolonged pre-game introductions, the Smokies managed to shrug off a 4-1 deficit in the third period, scoring three-power play goals to force overtime, collect their sixth win of the season, and sweep the home-and-home with Merritt.

“That rink, it’s a really tough rink to play in, it’s small, and things come at you quick,” said Nick Deschenes, Smoke Eater coach and GM. “With all the distractions pre-game, I don’t think we were as sharp as we needed to be. I thought we had some guys that were not quite engaged enough. It was 4-1 after two and it was pretty simple, we just have to go and out-compete and have the message that anything can happen in that kind of a rink.”

After the Smokies scored three unanswered in the third to tie it at 4-4, Swanson took a pass from Cooper Leitch stepped over the blue line and fired a slap shot top corner to end the match 2:13 into the first overtime session to shock the hometown crowd and celebrate the improbable victory. Unfortunately for Swanson, what would have been his first goal of the season was awarded to forward Jake Kauppila, who had already scored twice, to complete the phantom hat trick.

“Poor kid, the one guy that could use some pump in his tires, so the whole weekend it’s been all about the hat trick, but Swanson came across the blueline and shelfed it.”

Ryan Forbes opened the scoring for Merritt 7:54 into the first, but Kauppila tied it at one, finishing a setup from Swanson and Leitch to make it 1-1 on the power play with under four minutes to play.

However, Merritt would get their own power-play marker after John Laurito was sent off for high sticking. Gavin Gould beat starter Bailey MacBurnie on the doorstep with 1:35 to play in the opening frame, as Merritt outshot Trail 11-9 in the period.

Two second period goals from Gould and Colin Granarry gave Merritt a 4-1 lead heading into the final stanza. The Smokies began their charge after Granarry was sent off for slashing at 10:20 of the third and Nick Halloran converted a Kurt Black pass to draw the Smokies within two. Just over two minutes later, Kienan Scott blasted a shot by Merritt goalie Cole Kehler on another power play with assists to Harlan Orr and Kauppila to make it 4-3.

Merritt would again get into penalty trouble when Ryan Forbes was sent off for slashing and 31 seconds later Nick Fiorentino took a roughing penalty. Down two men, the Smokies’ Kauppila capitalized beating Kehler on an Orr set up to tie it with 5:16 to play and force OT.

“In the third, they started taking undisciplined penalties and we kept our composure, and the fact was (we scored) on the power play which has not been one of our strengths so that was a good thing, and to get the win in overtime, I mean three-goal comebacks in third periods don’t happen too often, at any level, so when it does it’s definitely a good feeling.”

Trail went 4-for-9 on the power play while Merritt was 2-for-6. The Smokies outshot Merritt 32-27 including 11-3 in the third period. Trail’s rally was backed by Linden Marshall who came on in relief of MacBurnie midway through the second period and made 10 saves to close out the match.

The Smokies third period comeback and power-play success were two big positives for a team that has struggled with the man advantage and emerging on the winning end of close games this season. Veteran players led the way with Kauppila having a four point night, and Leitch and Orr pitching in with two helpers each.

“It’s no secret that when our older players are not our best players, then we’re going to have a hard time being successful,” added Deschenes. “When our older players are our best players and they’re leading the way, then I think we are in good shape.”

Kauppila was named the game’s first star, Leitch second star, while Grannary took third-star honours.

Trail plays in Vernon versus the Vipers on Friday at 7 p.m. and will host the Penticton Vees on Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Cominco Arena.

Just Posted

Work has begun on the $10-million, 120-kilometre fibre-optic line from Playmor Junction to north of Nakusp. File photo
Work begins on Slocan Valley fibre-optic line

The $10-million, 120-kilometre fibre-optic line runs from Playmor Junction to north of Nakusp

Prince Charles Secondary School
School District 8 votes in favour of name change for Secondary School in Creston

In an act of reconciliation, a new name will be chosen for Prince Charles Secondary School

A B.C. police officer shows an approved roadside screening device. Photo: Saanich News file
Woman caught passed out behind the wheel in Trail

Police located the 38-year old in her parked but still running car, and had to rouse her awake.

Jade Osecki leading a Fridays for Future climate march in Nelson in 2020. Photo: Submitted
Nelson Grade 12 student Jade Osecki wins Suzy Hamilton Award

Carolyn Schramm was also honoured in this year’s environmental award for West Kootenay women

Photo courtesy of Mercer Celgar
Mercer Celgar to install new technology thanks to $4.5 million in federal funds

Project features process to improve fibre processing and address regional fibre availability issues

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Most Read