The Trail Smoke Eaters Adam Todd stood tall in net in backstopping the Smokies to a 5-3 victory over the Salmon Arm SilverBacks Tuesday night at the Cominco Arena.

The Trail Smoke Eaters Adam Todd stood tall in net in backstopping the Smokies to a 5-3 victory over the Salmon Arm SilverBacks Tuesday night at the Cominco Arena.

Trail Smoke Eaters pull out big victory over Salmon Arm Silverbacks

The Trail Smoke Eaters kept its playoff hopes alive Tuesday with a crucial 5-3 win over the Salmon Arm SilverBacks.

The Trail Smoke Eaters kept its playoff hopes alive Tuesday with a crucial 5-3 win over the Salmon Arm SilverBacks.

It wasn’t the prettiest game the Smoke Eaters played this season, but despite being outshot, the team showed a ton of heart in finding a way to gut out the victory.

“Our first 10-minutes was horrible, and our last 20 was horrible in our eyes,” said Trail coach and GM Bill Birks. “That was probably our worst segments of games, but our last 15 games we’ve been playing pretty good. Todd played really well . . . and to hang on was good.”

Trail netminder Adam Todd stole the show, outplaying an uncharacterically shaky Adam Clarke in the Backs’ net. The 18 year old stopped 31 shots and earned a first-star nod, thanks in part to 13 saves in the final period – a few of the scintillating variety when Salmon Arm, down 4-3, pressed hard at the end.

Clarke, one of the top-ranked goalies in the BCHL, stopped just 21 of 26 shots, and while making some quality saves, also let in a couple of the soft variety.

Smokies leading scorer Brent Baltus netted the winner with nine seconds remaining in the second period after a tremendous feed from captain Garrett McMullen. With time winding down in the period, McMullen lifted the puck at centre ice over the defender’s head. The lob settled down perfectly on the stick of a streaking Baltus, who made no mistake on the breakaway beating Clarke five-hole to give the Smokies a 4-2 lead.

McMullen then tangled with Salmon Arm’s Alex Gillies, going toe-toe and garnering two-thirds of a Gordie Howe hat trick on one play.

“I’m not a huge fighter, so that doesn’t happen very often, but it’s great having Baltsy back,” said McMullen. “Me and him have a great chemistry, and we’ve been playing good for almost a year and a little bit now, so we definitely know when each other are out there, and its great having him back in the lineup.”

The Smokies looked tentative out of the gate, and the Backs’ Steven Iacobellis made them pay, snapping a quick cross-ice pass from Brayden Sherbinin over a sprawling Todd 4:17 into the first.

“It was a slow start on our part, I don’t know what it was all about because we were pretty pumped for this game,” said McMullen. “We had a nice little break, maybe it was the nine days between games, we got caught a little slow-footed out there.”

However, the Smokies would awaken when Mitch Foyle pounced on a Luke Sandler rebound and buried it  to tie it at 1-1 heading into the second.

Adam Wheeldon gave the Smokies a jump with a crushing hit, then a knuckle exchange with Ryan Schwalbe six-minutes in, but it was a 5-on-3 penalty kill midway through the second, which really swung the momentum in Trail’s favour.

After McMullen was foiled on a break away coming out of the box, Baltus started his three-point night by sending a pass to Marley Keca whose point shot was redirected past Clarke by  Austin Adduono to put Trail up 2-1.

Two minutes later, an innocent looking shot from Shane Poulsen found its way through traffic and by a bewildered Gorillas goalie, to make it 3-1 Smokies.

Salmon Arm defenceman Shane Hannah replied, picking up a give away at 17:04 and blasting a shot from the slot by the Courtenay native to cut the lead to one.

Baltus’ goal restored the two-goal cushion, but things looked dire right from the start of the third. Foyle took a hooking penalty 26 seconds in and 10 seconds later Sherbinin jammed home a loose puck past Todd to make it 4-3.

Salmon Arm pressed and the Smokies looked baffled at times trying to clear the puck from their end, but Todd stood tall robbing point-blank attempts from Gillies and Iacobellis late in the game. With Clarke pulled for an extra attacker, Todd would foil the Backs one more time making a great glove save, before McMullen gift wrapped an empty netter for Baltus with 20 seconds remaining.

The Smokies are now just four points back of Salmon Arm for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Interior division with eight games remaining. While the SilverBacks enjoy two games in hand, the prospect of not making the post season is not an option for the Smokies players.

“It’s not even a question in that room over there,” said McMullen. “It’s not if, it’s when. We’re just going to approach it one game at a time, one win at a time, that’s how we’re doing it.”

The Smoke Eaters play Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Friday at the Cominco Arena at 7:30 p.m.

Just Posted

Area A Director Ali Grieve (right), Village of Fruitvale Mayor Steve Morissette (front), and Village of Montrose Mayor Mike Walsh (left) held a congratulatory ceremony for Beaver Valley students who are part of the Class of 2021 graduates of J. L. Crowe Secondary at Beaver Creek Park on Thursday. Photo: Jim Bailey
Beaver Valley Grads of 2021

Beaver Valley mayors, RDKB Area A director celebrate their 2021 graduates with gift ceremony

Adrian Moyls is the Selkirk College Class of 2021 valedictorian and graduate of the School of Health and Human Services. Photo: Submitted
Selkirk College valedictorian proves mettle in accomplishment

Adrian Moyls is a graduate of the School of Health and Human Services

A volunteer delivers food to families as part of a West Kootenay EcoSociety program. Photo: Submitted
Farms to Friends delivers 2,500th bag of food to families in need

The program services communities in the Nelson, Trail and Castlegar areas

Selkirk College has begun its search in earnest for a leader to replace president Angus Graeme who is set to retire from his position in May 2022. Photo: Submitted
Selkirk College seeks community input for president search

Current president Angus Graeme retires next year

A report shows nine West Kootenay communities are have more low-income persons than the provincial average. File photo
Study casts new light on poverty in the West Kootenay

Nine communities in region have more low-income residents than provincial average

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Most Read