For Trail, it was Smoke Eaters’ hockey.
For Vernon, it was a shift away from the Vipers’ trademark.
The visiting Trail Smoke Eaters rallied from a two-goal first-period deficit to edge the Snakes 4-3 in B.C. Hockey League action Friday night before 1,837 fans at Kal Tire Place.
The two teams met again Saturday at the Cominco Arena in Trail.
The Vipers took a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes on goals from Jimmy Lambert and Trail native Riley Brandt, which needed a conference among the four on-scene officials to confirm Brandt’s sharp-angle shot crossed the goal line behind Trail goalie Linden Marshall.
“Falling behind 2-0 after the first period in this building is very tough to come back from,” said Trail assistant coach Curt Toneff.
“We’ve done it a few times this year against some pretty good hockey clubs. We just got back to Smoke Eater hockey in the second, crawled back into the game, and it could have gone either way. Our goalie made some key saves at key times and our guys blocked a few more shots than normal.”
Smoke Eaters hockey, said Toneff, is a hard-and-heavy-style of game, protecting pucks in the offensive zone and playing as a group.
“Simple hockey,” he said. And Trail did that in the second period, scoring three unanswered goals from first star Kale Howarth, defenceman Kyle Chernenkoff (first BCHL goal) and Josh Laframboise.
The line of Howarth, Laframboise and Luke Santerno combined for six points.
Vernon tied it four minutes into the third when a point shot from Chris Jandric hit Jagger Williamson and bounced past Marshall.
Howarth scored his second 75 seconds later, unassisted, going coast-to-coast down the left wing before firing a laser of a wrist shot over Cole Demers’ left shoulder and into the top corner.
Marshall was named third star for his 45 save effort. Trail outshot Vernon 48-38.
Vipers defenceman Michael Ufberg had two assists to earn second star honours.
“We seemed a little bit lackadaisical out there,” said Lambert of the Vipers’ effort. “We didn’t have much energy or jump to get on the pucks, and we were not as physical as we needed to be. That’s our trademark, be very physical, work hard and we didn’t do that for a full 60 minutes tonight.”
The win moved Trail to within a point of the third-place Vipers in the Interior Division. Trail has picked up points in six of its last eight games, winning five of them.
“The division is going to be tight all year,” said Howarth. “They’re all good teams in this division.”
Vipers head coach/general manager Mark Ferner made his third and fourth roster moves in a week Friday, picking up former Victoria Royals rugged forward Keith lAnderson from the WHL and sending forward Levi Johnson to the Alberta Junior Hockey league’s Drumheller Dragons for future considerations.
Anderson, 6-foot-4 and 205-pounds, played in 33 games with the Royals last season before being cut this year.
“From what I’ve been told, he’s a big, heavy body who has some skill and plays hard,” said Ferner.
“He may be lacking a little bit of confidence right now. He skates well and he’s a really friendly and personable kid.”
Anderson, from Hermiston, Ore., played Friday on a line with Hunter Zandee and Austin Adamson, and nearly scored on his first BCHL shot, one-timing a pass in the slot from Zandee that Marshall got his blocker on.
Johnson, a 6-foot-4, 201-pound Vernon native who rang up 19 points in 45 Junior B Kamloops Storm games last year, recorded one goal and one assist in 11 games with the Snakes.
SNAKE BITES: Vernon played without injured defencemen Connor Clouston (concussion) and Cooper Watson (broken hand), and injured forward Nic Rasovic. D-man Jack Judson was summoned from the Delta Hockey Academy. Judson had been at the Vipers’ training camp…Trail defenceman Mitch Stapley crunched Vernon forward – and younger brother – Brett Stapley into the boards two minutes into the game and received a boarding minor.