The Trail Smoke Eaters overcame a big deficit Friday night but couldn’t duplicate that same feat on Sunday.
Friday night, Trail scored four goals in the third period to rally for a 5-4 win against the West Kelowna Warriors at the Cominco Arena. However, on Sunday in Vernon, the Smokies couldn’t provide the same magic as the Vipers jumped out to a 4-2 first-period lead and handed Trail a 5-3 defeat.
Sunday’s matinee match in Vernon saw Michael Colella spot Trail an early 1-0 lead but the Vipers struck back hard including three goals in a span of 97 seconds to vault out to a 4-1 lead with three minutes to play in the opening frame.
That outburst was enough to prompt head coach Jeff Tambellini to switch starting goaltender Matteo Paler-Chow for Logan Terness.
While Terness shut the door the rest of the way, Vernon added an empty-net tally in the final minute, Trail looked for the type of comeback it showed in front of its home fans on Friday.
Jaden Senkoe got Trail a bit closer with his tally late in the first period and Kent Johnson notched his 40th goal of the season midway through the second to make it 4-2 with 20 minutes to play.
But that’s as close as Trail would get as Vernon limited the Smokies to eight shots in the final frame and hold on for the win.
The loss was in stark contrast to Friday night as the Smokies showed their resilience with a big third period to rally for the win over the West Kelowna.
Johnson, with three goals, and Philippe Lapointe, with two goals, provided the offensive finish as the Smokies battled back from a 3-1 deficit after 40 minutes.
Terness made 31 stops for the win including a game-saver late in the third robbing Ryan Novecosky from a sure goal in the final minute of regulation time.
While the game had a happy ending for the 2,000-plus fans at the Cominco Arena, it didn’t start out that way.
West Kelowna grabbed a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes as they peppered Terness with 17 shots.
Johnson potted his first of the night early in the second but Elan Bar Lev Wise notched his second of the match to spot West Kelowna a 3-1 lead heading into the final frame.
It stayed that way until the seven-minute mark when Johnson cut the lead to one-goal but the Warriors got that back 28 seconds later to hold a 4-2 lead with 12 minutes to play.
Johnson notched his third of the night, and 39th of the season, at 9:53 followed by Lapointe’s game-tying goal with three minutes left in regulation time.
The game winner came with just 91 seconds to play as Diarmad DiMurro kept the puck in at the blueline, fed it down low to Johnson who slipped it to Lapointe. The Smokies captain deftly re-directed the puck past Warriors’ goalie Riley Morgan for the win.
The victory, which locked up second place, gave the Smokies 71 points in 52 games and marks the first time since the 2006-07 season that Trail has surpassed the 70-point plateau in the regular season. That team included players such as Kevin Limbert, Paul Mailey and Dave Arduin.
Trail’s next action comes this weekend when they host the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Friday and the league-leading Coquitlam Express on Saturday at the Cominco Arena.