Trail Smoke Eaters fired 44 shots at Merritt goalie Tanner Marshall in a 6-4 victory over the Centennials on Tuesday at the Trail Memorial Centre. Jim Bailey photo.

Trail Smoke Eaters survive Centennials late comeback

Smoke Eaters forward Max Kryski scores two goals in 6-4 victory over the Merritt Centennials

The Trail Smoke Eaters did just enough to eke out a win over the Merritt Centennials Tuesday night at the Cominco Arena.

Kelowna native Max Kryski had a two-goal night and Owen Ozar tallied a goal and two assists for the Smoke Eaters in a 6-4 victory over the Cents.

Related read: Smoke Eaters split weekend games with Penticton Vees

Trail carried the play from the opening face off, but lacked intensity and allowed the Centennials to stick around, twice giving up two-goal leads.

“I’ll always take two points, I’ll never complain about two points,” said Smoke Eaters coach and GM Jeff Tambellini. “Overall it was one of our poorest performances of sticking to the game plan and that’s where our team still needs to mature and do the things we need to have success.”

Smokies forward Walker Erickson scored the eventual game winner, tallying his fifth goal of the season with 5:05 to play. An aggressive forecheck by Erickson, Chase Dafoe and Connor Sweeney forced the puck to the front of the Centennials net, and Erickson slipped it past Cents goalie Tanner Marshall to give the Smoke Eaters a 5-3 lead.

“Merritt’s playing a style right now that is just trying to get through games,” said Tambellini. “They are playing a trap, defensive style, and you have to break down teams to have success against that trap. We did it when it was 2-0, but the minute we had offensive success we played right into their hands and gave them a chance to comeback in the game.”

Marshall foiled the Smoke Eaters on a number of occasions early in the match, robbing former Centennial Matt Ozadick on the doorstep with two great pad saves.

Trail went on a power play after Torzsok was called for tripping at 6:51. Luck was not on Trail’s side, as Ozar rang one off the crossbar, and seconds later, Johnson fired another bullet off the top bar to keep the game even.

The Smoke Eaters regained the lead when Philippe Lapointe flew down the right side, and sent a high pass from the far wall towards the net. Incredibly, Kryski batted the puck out of mid-air and past Marshall for a 4-3 Trail lead.

“That one kinda went by without me even thinking,” said Kryski. “Lapointe was driving down the wall and I saw an opportunity to get to the net, so I kept my feet moving, and luckily I got my stick on the puck and it went in the back of the net.”

After Erickson’s goal, Trail seemed to have the game in hand, but Merritt’s Jerzy Orchard wired a shot top shelf on Paler-Chow to cut the lead to 5-4 with 4:30 left to play.

The Smoke Eaters, however, weathered a late flurry and Matt Osadick scored into an empty net in the last 10 seconds for the 6-4 final.

“We started the game a little sluggish, a little bit light,” said Kryski. “I don’t know we were fully ready to play the game against Merritt, maybe underestimated them a bit there, but overall we got two points from them and that was huge, so hopefully we’ll learn our lesson from them and move forward.”

A positive for Trail of late is the secondary scoring from depth forwards like Osadick, Kryski, Costello and Erickson. Costello had a two-goal night against Penticton Friday, and Tuesday night was Kryski’s and Osadick’s turn.

“That’s huge four our depth right now,” said Kryski postgame. “Getting close to playoff time, we need all four lines, all the deep players to step up. It doesn’t matter who you are, everyone can contribute some goals, and everyone can contribute to the defensive side of things too.”

Related read: Smoke Eaters add forward, prep for Vees on weekend

Tambellini was particularly pleased with Trail’s most recent addition, who was acquired just prior to the Jan. 10 deadline.

“We’re really happy that Matt (Osadick) had a big night against his former team, and if they don’t step up, we might be in trouble tonight. We need night’s like that where depth guys make big plays, and tonight we got that.”

Trail outshot the Cents 44-32 and were 0-for-4 on the power play, and 2-for-3 on the penalty kill. Kryski earned first star, Merrit’s Orchard second star, and Torzsok third star.

The win lifts the Smoke Eaters 10 points clear of third-place Vernon in the Interior Division standings and eight points back of Penticton. However, the Vipers have three games in hand and play Trail on Friday, so the Smoke Eaters can’t get too comfortable yet.

“They picked up a good player in Max Bulawka (from West Kelowna), so we’re going to have a great test against them and this is a big game for them trying to chase us, and us trying to put them in the middle group of the Interior Division,” added Tambellini.

Trail hosts Vernon on Friday at 7 p.m. and will play the Centennials in their final meeting of the season on Hockey Day in Trail Saturday at 7 p.m.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


Trail forward Matt Osadick is stymied by Merritt goalie Tanner Marshall on this play, but the recent Smoke Eater acquisition picked up a goal and an assist in the 6-4 Smoke Eaters win on Tuesday. Jim Bailey photo.

Smoke Eater Max Kryski scores his first of two goals on Tuesday in a 6-4 win over Merritt.

Just Posted

Castlegar autism workshop helps parents cope with wait times

Kootenay Family Place holding workshop Feb. 1

Columbia Basin Trust shuffles board, new leaders at the table

The Trust is governed by a 12-member Board of Directors

Talin Verigin elected SD 20 trustee

Verigin will represent rural Castlegar RDCK Areas I and J.

Wenatchee Wild earn split with Trail Smoke Eaters with shootout win

Trail Smoke Eaters open with 4-3 win, then fall 2-1 after nine-round shootout in Wenatchee,

School District 8: No visiting Chinese students have coronavirus

SD8 says its international students have already been screened for the virus

VIDEO: Canada’s first presumptive case of coronavirus officially confirmed

Both patient and wife arrived on a China Southern Airlines flight after having been to Wuhan

First-place Canucks beat Blues 3-1 for ninth straight home win

Miller nets pair as Vancouver defeats Cup champs

Swapping grape varieties can help winemakers adapt to climate change: UBC study

Report says 56% of wine-grape-growing regions would be lost if global climate warms by 2 C

Alberta premier wants feds to approve Teck mine for benefit of First Nations

Kenney: ‘Surely [reconciliation] means saying yes to economic development for First Nations people’

Police search for man who went missing from Vernon hotel

Jay Rosenberger, 38, was last seen Friday

NDP suggests easing secondary housing rules for B.C. farmland

Lana Popham proposes guest homes not just for relatives

After four sexual assaults in the same B.C. park, RCMP ask women not to walk alone

Four sexual assaults took place in Glen Park over two months

BC Place lights up in purple and yellow to honour Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash

Whistleblower says Iranian-Americans questioned at Peace Arch crossing were targeted

Immigration lawyer says response from Customs Border Protection is a ‘total cover up’

Most Read