Trail Smoke Eaters forward Josh Laframboise scored twice against his former team and Zach Dyment stopped 40 shots to backstop the Smokies to a 5-2 win over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on Saturday.
A day after dropping a 6-3 decision to the Silverbacks in Trail, the Smoke Eaters struck for four third-period goals to break open a 1-1 game and earn two points in the back half of a home-and-home series.
“It was a bit of a chess match in the first two periods,” Smoke Eater assistant coach Curtis Toneff said on the Smokies’ website. “In the third we made a couple high-end plays that opened the ice up for us.”
Salmon Arm opened the scoring eight minutes into the first period when a turnover at the Trail blue line sent Carter Stephenson in on an odd-man rush with Josh Latta who slapped a Stephenson pass by Dyment for a 1-0 lead.
The Silverbacks’ Nathan Iannone went to the box 14 minutes into the period for a double-minor high-sticking penalty, giving Trail a man advantage for four minutes. Laframboise answered, beating Silverbacks goalie Nic Tallarico on a set up from Jeremy Lucchini and Luke Santerno.
The evenly played first stanza was a preview of the scoreless second period where both teams fired 11 shots at each other. Tight checking through 40 minutes and big saves by Dyment, particularly on three Salmon Arm second-period power plays, kept the game even.
But in the final frame, Laframboise put the Smokies ahead for good at 6:47 tallying his 16th goal, and 16 seconds later Howarth worked the puck to Santerno in front, and the Smithers native beat Tallarico to give Trail a 3-1 lead. Salmon Arm pressed furiously, and Carter Cochrane finally beat Dyment 12 minutes into the third to draw Salmon Arm within one. But Mitchell Barker’s shot through traffic with 6:35 to play restored the two-goal lead for Trail, and Howarth iced it scoring his 24th of the season with an empty-net goal with 11 seconds to play.
“We didn’t compete,” ‘Backs head coach Misko Antisin told the Salmon Arm Observer following the game. “We just thought it would be an easy game because we did play well last night (Friday). We did everything that was asked of us last night and tonight we didn’t do that. It’s disappointing.”
The Silverbacks fired 23 shots at Dyment in the third period and 42 in the game, but Dyment was at his best, earning first star in the match.
“Our PK and goaltending was exceptional,” said Toneff. “And a few guys got the monkey off their backs.”
Santerno’s goal was his first in 10 games, and his two-point night brings him to 24-22-46 for the season, one point behind Howarth for the team lead.
Trail went 1-for-4 on the power play and was perfect on four penalty-kills. Tallarico faced 31 shots for the ‘Backs, while Smokies forward Laframboise and Carter for Salmon Arm were named the second and third stars respectively. Coincidentally, the Trail Smoke Eaters acquired Laframboise from Salmon Arm in a trade for defenceman Cochrane in early August.
In Friday’s match, Cochrane scored the winner with 33 seconds remaining in the second period to give the Silverbacks a 4-2 lead on their way to a 6-3 victory. After Trail failed to clear their zone, Cochrane took a swing at a bouncing puck from the point, and it knuckled by Smokie goalie Linden Marshall.
Trail opened the scoring when Ross Armour wired a shot high on Tallarico, but two goals from Elijah Barriga and Josh Blanchard gave the ‘Backs a 2-1 lead heading into the second period with Trail holding a 20-14 edge in shots.
Trail’s Andre Ghantous tied it at 6:37 mark but Barriga put Salmon Arm back out front 10 seconds later.
Ghantous notched his fifth of the season on a nice cross-crease set up from Spencer McLean six minutes into the third period to make it 4-3, but two empty-net goals clinched the win for the ‘Backs.
Trail outshot Salmon Arm 46-20 in the game, with Ghantous, Barriga, and Armour being named the game’s three stars.
The split keeps the 19-18-4-0 Smoke Eaters in sole possession of third place in the Interior Division, but just one point up on West Kelowna with the Warriors having three games in hand.
Today’s BCHL (Jan. 10) 8 p.m. trade deadline is also looming, but as of press time on Monday there had been no moves made by the Smoke Eaters.
Smoke Signals: Smoke Eaters defenceman Mitch Stapley was injured after taking a high hit to the face in the second period of Friday’s game against Salmon Arm with no penalty on the play. After the BCHL discipline committee reviewed the video, they handed Marcus Mitchell of Salmon Arm a major penalty for a blow to the head. Mitchell will also serve a four-game suspension, while Stapley suffered a broken jaw and a concussion on the hit and will be out of the lineup indefinitely. The versatile defenceman leads the Smokies in assists with 24.