Trail Smoke Eaters forward Kent Johnson scored in a shootout and goalie Logan Terness stymied the Surrey Eagles shooters in a 3-2 win on Sunday to claim the Smoke Eaters eighth straight victory.
Both netminders traded big saves throughout the match to force the game to the shootout. Terness and Surrey goalie Cal Schell stopped the first shooters dead, but after Terness forced Sean Ramsay to shoot wide, the creative Johnson skated in and deked Schell for the game winner. Terness then stymied Surrey’s top scorer Christophe Tellier, showing poise and patience in the Trail net, for the thrilling Smokies’ victory.
The win dealt Surrey head coach, and former Smoke Eaters head coach and GM, Cam Keith, the Eagles’ sixth straight loss despite two good efforts on the weekend. Surrey fell to Mainland Division leading Coquitlam Express 2-1 on Friday.
“I think we’re getting close, and I was proud of the guys for their effort tonight,” said Keith. “It was a tough grind-it-out game, unfortunately it just didn’t go our way.”
Trail started their three game road trip in Cowichan Valley on Friday beating the Island Division leading Capitals 6-5 in a shootout in Duncan. They then travelled to Victoria where the Smokies skated to a 5-1 drubbing of the Grizzlies before finishing up their road swing in Surrey.
The three wins improve Trail’s record to 8-5-1-0 and moves them into sole possession of third place in the Interior Division standings.
Connor Sweeney opened the scoring for Trail 2:37 into the first period, redirecting a slap pass from Powell Connor for his first goal of the season and a 1-0 lead.
Schell came up big on a number of occasions as Trail outshot the Eagles 18-13 in the second period but fell behind 2-1 on goals from Cody Schiavon and Cade Alami.
The Smokies finally drew even in the third with Michael Colella tallying his 12th of the season on the power play, firing in a set up from Johnson and Diarmad Dimurro with 12:41 to play.
Trail owned the overtime period, but couldn’t solve Schell despite a power play, a couple breakaways and a 7-1 shot advantage.
“I felt that there were some times tonight that we could have had used that killer instinct, which we’re still missing,” said Keith. “Cal Schell was great. Some of our guys have to step up and find the net, start burying the puck.”
Trail outshot Surrey 46-39, went 1-for-5 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.
The 17-year-old Terness earned first star for his 37 saves, Schell was named second star, and Johnson third star. Terness, a Burnaby product, was brilliant throughout the weekend, boasting a 5-2 record, and a remarkable 1.83 GAA and .947 save percentage.
In Friday’s match against Cowichan Valley, Johnson and Colella continued their torrid scoring pace with Colella netting two goals and Johnson chipping in with a four-point night in a 6-5 shootout victory.
Trail battled from behind all night, and after a scoreless overtime period, Max Kryski netted the winner as the sixth shooter in the sudden-death shootout.
Kryski walked in and went backhand, forehand, firing the puck over the blocker of goalie Zach Borgiel for the game winner.
Terness, who relieved Buskey early in the third period, was again stellar. After the first shooter, Mathew Crasa, beat Terness on the back hand, Johnson tied it, skating in slowly, then sneaking a quick shot by the pad of a surprised Borgiel.
Terness turned aside the remaining five shooters, allowing for Kryski’s game winner.
The Capitals jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals from Brady Lynn and Will Arquiett, but Colella netted his first on the night on the power play, sending a buzzer beater by Borgiel with one second left on the clock.
Dimurro scored midway through the second period to tie it at two, but Crasa scored his fifth of the year for a 3-2 Cowichan lead just over a minute later.
Johnson scored on the power play at 13:18 shovelling in a rebound at the side of the net, but again the Capitals replied with Tanner Sidaway putting the home team up 4-3 heading to the third period.
Crasa put the Capitals up 5-3, going five-hole on Buskey just over two minutes into the final frame. The goal brought in Terness who turned aside 11 shots the rest of the way for the victory.
Johnson made it 5-4 on a power-play goal, and after a Trail goal was disallowed, the University of Michigan commit made a slick skate pass to Colella at the right post and the New Jersey native banged it in to tie it and force overtime.
Dimurro has been Trail’s best offensive defenceman, scoring once and adding three assists on the night. The 20-year-old Highland Mills, NY native leads all BCHL defencemen in scoring with four goals and 17 points, while Johnson continues to lead all skaters with eight goals and 25 points. Colella is the BCHL goal leader with 12, and his 23 points is second behind Johnson.
Each team fired 36 shots on goal, with Trail going 3-for-5 on the power play and 2-for-3 on the PK. Johnson earned first star, the Capitals’ Crasa was second star, and Kryski the game’s third star.
On Saturday in Victoria, Trail fell behind 1-0, then scored five straight goals for a decisive 5-1 win.
Dimurro and Kryski had another good game with a goal and an assist, while Johnson added two goals, and Braden Costello notched his second of the season. Terness stopped 28 shots and Trail went 2-for-5 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the PK.
Trail returns home on Friday when they host the 9-3-0-1 Nanaimo Clippers at the Trail Memorial Centre at 7 p.m. and travel to Vernon on Saturday for a 6 p.m. tilt against the Vipers.