Trail Smoke Eaters roll over Chiefs

Team picks up second big win over Lower Mainland teams

Connor Tiechko caught fire Saturday, netting a hat trick as the Trail Smoke Eaters played spoiler  in winning their second in a row in a well-earned 5-3 victory over the Chilliwack Chiefs.

The Chiefs hold down the fourth and final playoff spot in the Interior division and the loss to Trail, coupled with a Vernon Vipers 5-2 victory over Alberni Valley Bulldogs, leave the Chiefs with a tenuous two-point lead.

The Smokies were coming off their best offensive output of the season with a 6-2 shellacking of Alberni  Thursday night.

With the score tied at 2-2, Tiechko pounced on a blocked shot and swept in all alone on the Chiefs net to score the eventual game winner  with just over five minutes remaining in the third as the  Smoke Eaters came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Chiefs.

Chilliwack shot out of the gate potting two goals in the first three minutes to silence the Smokie faithful. However, Tiechko converted a break-away pass from Erik Cooper and rookie defenceman Jorgen Johnson to make it 2-1 with just over four minutes to go in the first.

The Chiefs got into penalty trouble early in the second and with a two-man advantage, the home team made them pay. The power-play unit passed the puck briskly around the perimeter before Tiechko sent a gift from Garrett McMullen to the back of the open net at 3:29 into the second period.

Then, on another late power play, Riley McDougall put the Smokies on top to stay when he took a pass from AP Colton Shell and rifled a quick wrister past Chiefs goalie Bryton Udy before the close of the second frame.

Tiechko counted his hat trick and the winner to go up 4-2 before a late goal by Chilliwack would momentarily close the gap to one. But with 45 seconds remaining Brent Baltus banged in a rebound to ensure the victory.

James D’Andrea played great between the pipes as the Smoke Eaters were outshot 41-32 for third star honours, and Tiechko was named first star for the hat trick. Linemate Cooper continues to roll picking up two assists, as did Brandon Egli and Johnson.

Trail can continue to play the spoiler and return the favour by beating  the Vipers when they travel to the snake pit on Wednesday. The Smoke Eaters next home game goes Friday at the Cominco Arena at 7:30 p.m. against the Merritt Centennials.