Jake Kauppila scored twice and Ryan Swanson netted the winner in overtime as the Trail Smoke Eaters staged a dramatic third period comeback win on the road, downing the Merritt Centennials 5-4 in BCHL action on Friday.
Trail was down 4-1 heading into the final stanza, but the Smokies got power-play goals from Nick Halloran, Kienan Scott and Kauppila to force overtime, setting the stage for Swanson’s winner. Even though the goal was awarded to Kauppila in what completed his hat trick, it was Swanson who stepped over the blue line and blasted a shot top shelf, 2:13 into the OT session to give the Smokies their second win in the home-and-home series.
Merritt led 2-1 after one and Colin Grannary’s second of the night in the middle frame made it 4-1 after 40 minutes. Trail’s rally was backed by Linden Marshall who came on in relief of Trail goalie Bailey MacBurnie midway through the second period and made 10 saves to close out the match. Trail outshot Merritt 32-27 including 11-3 in the third period.
Kauppila was named the game’s first star, and Cooper Leitch second star for his two-point night, while Grannary took third-star honours.
Trail plays in Vernon versus the Vipers on Friday at 7 p.m. and will host Penticton on Sunday at 3 p.m.