The Trail Smoke Eaters forward Tyler Ghirardosi scored twice including the game winner in a 3-2 victory and a sweep of the Vernon Vipers on Saturday.
The Smokies completed the doubleheader sweep at home with a 3-2 come-from-behind win in front of 2,308 fans at the Cominco Arena, after winning the opener of the twinbill Friday, 5-2.
The Smoke Eaters (16-6-2-1) record improves to 35 points, tied with Salmon Arm for second place, and two points behind the division leading Penticton Vees. The Smokies increased their lead over the fourth-place Vipers (12-9-1-0) to 10 points, while Vernon remains one point up on the fifth-place Wenatchee Wild (11-10-1-1).
The Vipers took a 2-1 lead into the third period Saturday, but Montrose native Ghirardosi scored twice in three minutes and 30 seconds, at 7:43 and 11:13, to give the home side the lead
Cameron MacDonald opened the scoring for Vernon with his seventh of the year at 2:33 of the opening period. The Smoke Eaters tied the game at 18:05 on Philippe Lapointe’s eighth of the season. Lapointe then set up both of Ghirardosi’s third-period goals.
Matt Kowalski, with his eighth, gave Vernon the lead with a last-minute goal in the middle frame.
Logan Terness made 34 saves to pick up the win in goal for Trail while James Porter made 26 stops in his Vipers debut. The 19-year-old Bonners Ferry, Idaho native was picked up by Vernon earlier in the week from the Western Hockey League’s Kelowna Rockets.
Ghirardosi earned the first star honour, with Lapointe taking second star, and Porter third star.
On Friday, the Smoke Eaters came back from another 2-1 deficit on their way to a convincing 5-2 victory over the Vipers.
Owen Ozar started the scoring 16 seconds into the opening frame, but the Vipers replied with goals from Trey Taylor and MacDonald to take a 2-1 lead.
Trail forward Kent Johnson tied it 25 seconds later, and netted the game winner sneaking a puck by the Vipers goalie for a 3-2 lead at 12:34 of the middle frame.
Walker Erickson provided some insurance for the Smoke Eaters, stripping the puck from the defenceman and beating Vernon goalie Reilly Herbst at 14:10 of the third period. Michael Colella scored his 13th of the season into an empty net for the 5-2 final.
Smokies goalie Matteo Paler-Chow started his first game as a Smoke Eater and was solid in net stopping 27 shots, while Herbst blocked 19 for Vernon.
Trail’s BCHL Player of the Month, Johnson, was named the game’s first star, Vernon’s MacDonald second star, and Colella the third star.
Trail is on the road this weekend with a Vancouver Island swing through Powell River, Nanaimo, and Alberni Valley.