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Trail Smoke Eaters snake bitten by Vernon Vipers

Trail Smoke Eaters throw everything at Vernon goalie but fall 3-2 to Vipers
Vernon Vipers goalie Roan Clarke foils Smoke Eater Brady Hunter on this attempt in close in a 3-2 victory over the Trail Smoke Eaters on Tuesday. Photo: Jim Bailey

Vernon Vipers goalie Roan Clarke single handed stole two points from the Trail Smoke Eaters on Wednesday night at the Trail Memorial Centre.

Clarke stopped 49-of-51 shots and Luke Buss pitched in with a goal and two assists in a 3-2 Vernon victory over the Trail Smoke Eaters to bring their win streak to seven games.

Smokies forward Teddy Lagerback is stopped on this try.

JoJo Tanaka-Campbell scored the game winner on a power play, tipping in a Talon Zakall point shot for a 3-1 lead 5:04 into the third period.

With the victory, the 13-14-3-3 Vipers move to within two points of the sixth place Smoke Eaters in the Interior Conference standings.

The 16-15-1-1 Smoke Eaters, meanwhile, suffer their third loss in four games to the Vipers this season after a 2-1 shootout loss on Jan. 19.

Vernon opened the scoring midway through the first period when Trail goalie Evan Fradette was caught out of position attempting to play a puck behind the net. Vipers forward Reagan Milburn beat him to it and fed Buss in front for an open net goal.

Trail went on a two man advantage and Connor Michaud tied it, one-timing a back door pass from Quinn Disher with 3:23 left in the opening frame.

The Vipers regained the lead with 11 seconds left in the period, when Milburn scored on a power play with a quick shot top shelf for his 11th of the season.

The middle frame was highlighted by a lively battle between the Vipers Matt Culling and Smokie Josh Schenk.


Trail also had several high-end chances to run away with the game, but Clarke was unbeatable. The Smoke Eaters outshot the Vipers 21-3 in the second period, and the score remained 2-1 Vipers.

After Tanaka-Campbell notched the game winner, Trail continued to carry the play with a 13-3 edge in shots in the third.

The Smoke Eaters Brady Hunter notched his 17th goal and team leading 42nd point, cutting the lead to 3-2 with the goalie pulled and just 45 seconds remaining in regulation, not enough time to complete the comeback.

Trail outshot Vernon 51-19, and went 1-for-6 on the power play and 4-for-6 on the PK.

The Smoke Eaters are on the road this weekend, and will face the conference leading Salmon Arm Silverbacks on Friday in their first meeting of the season.

On Saturday, Trail heads to Penticton to play the Vees with the puck drop for both games at 7 p.m.

Read: Smoke Eaters earn road split in Merritt and West K

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Jim Bailey

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