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The drama continued on Saturday as the Trail Smoke Eaters gutsy effort helped them stay in the playoff hunt with another thrilling overtime victory at the Cominco Arena.
The Smokies beat the Interior division leading Penticton Vees 4-3 in the second OT to remain tied with Salmon Arm SilverBacks for the fourth and final playoff spot.
Garrett McMullen took a pass from Valik Chichkin and broke down the left side, firing a shot past the Vees’ netminder Nic Renyard at 1:12 of the 3-on-3 overtime period to launch the celebration.
Trail native Jake Lucchini opened the scoring for the Smokies as he was sent in all alone by Marley Keca. Renyard made the pad save but Lucchini deftly picked up his own rebound, circled the back of the net and
jammed home the puck to make it 1-0.
The physical game was punctuated by hard hits and rough stuff after the whistle, but the first two periods stayed 1-0 thanks in large part to Trail goalie Adam Todd who turned aside 23 shots in the first two frames. But the teams would find their scoring touch, erupting for five goals in the third. After Adam Wheeldon took a roughing penalty, Vee Brock Balson would tie it finishing a play from former Smokie Sam Mellor. Mellor then set up Jordan McCallum to give Penticton a 2-1 lead midway through the third.
Trail didn’t quit, and the hockey gods smiled on the orange and black. Braedon Jones ripped a dump in around the glass that hit the stanchion and bounced into the open net, as the Vee goalie had exited the crease to play the puck behind the net.
The teams traded chances, but a Balson interference penalty gave the Smokies an opportunity, and Keca would make them pay, blasting a pass from Connor Collett past a sprawling Renyard with less than five minutes remaining in regulation to give the Smokies a 3-2 lead.
Penticton would get it back however and force overtime when Minnesota Wild draft pick Lou Nanne converted a perfect Mellor pass in the slot by a helpless Todd with 2:56 left on the clock to make it 3-3 and send it to OT.
McMullen was named first star for his extra period marker and two point night, Lucchini second star and Keca third star. Todd stopped 34 of 37 shots in getting his 10th win in a Smokies uniform.
Trail next plays a home-and-home starting in Penticton on Friday, and returns to the Cominco Arena on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.