After dropping five games in a row, the Trail Smoke Eaters are back on the winning track thanks to a pair of overtime wins this week.
Hot on the heals of an impressive 6-3 win against Chilliwack last week, the Smokies kept the puck rolling with a 2-1 win in Vernon on Thursday and a gutsy come-from-behind 6-5 victory over Langley Friday at the Cominco Arena.
Defenceman Braden Pears popped his fourth goal of the season and second OT winner when he streaked down the right side and snapped the puck past Langley goaltender James Barr, 44 seconds into the second overtime to complete the comeback.
The wins, coupled with Vernon losses on Friday and Saturday, launches Trail into fourth place in the Interior division of the BCHL.
Smokies captain Garrett McMullen led the charge after Trail fell behind 3-0 thanks to two Rivermen power-play goals in the first period. McMullen scored at 3:32 of the second period to get Trail on the board converting a nice centring pass from Tyler Berkholtz.
Bennett Hambrook cut the lead to one on an unassisted effort, but Evan Campbell netted his second of the game for the Rivermen to restore the two-goal margin heading into the third.
Scott Davidson would get in on the action, scoring his fourth of the season, and McMullen counted his second of the night to tie it 4-4 at 7:56 of the third.
However, Langley’s Trevor Cope would give the visitors another lead at 9:13, but a surging Luke Sandler banged home a Jake Lucchini rebound on the power play to tie it with just over seven minutes to play in regulation.
McMullen had a chance to win it in regulation, when he was awarded a penaly shot after being hauled to the ice on a breakaway, however, Barr foiled the opportunity with a nice blocker save.
Lyndon Stanwood came up big when he had to, as the Smokies were outshot 8-3 in the 4-on-4 overtime, for a total of 37 shots on the night, while Trail fired 36 at Barr.
Smokies forward Brent Baltus was hurt early in the first period on a hard check by Langley forward Turner Popoff, and did not return to the game. Popoff and Trail forward Adam Wheeldon exchanged blows as a result and were tossed from the game. Sources say the pair received a three-game suspension for what is considered a staged fight.
In Vernon Thursday, a goaltender’s dual was eventually decided by McMullen as he netted the game winner on a nice pass from Pears just 13 seconds into the second overtime.
Stanwood stopped 37 shots for the victory, including a game saver on Colton Sparrow midway through the second period. Sparrow deflected a point shot then jumped on his own rebound and was about to back hand it into an open net, when Stanwood lunged and made the save.
The Vipers’ Adam Tambellini opened the scoring in the first, but Baltus would tie it shorthanded after being fed in the slot by McMullen.
The tandem of Baltus and McMullen continue to impress, and lead the team in scoring. The Smokies will play four games in five days next week before the Christmas break, with a road game against the Warriors of West Kelowna, the three home games with Vernon Saturday, Nanaimo Sunday, and Merritt on Tuesday.