A rivalry is building between the Trail Smoke Eaters and Cranbrook Bucks.
The Smoke Eaters top line fueled a late comeback on Saturday in Cranbrook to defeat the Bucks 4-3 in overtime.
The two teams met on Saturday in an unscheduled contest after Chilliwack’s visit to Cranbrook and Trail’s road trip to the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island were postponed due to extensive flooding in the Fraser Valley.
Smoke Eaters captain Coalson Wohlford scored the overtime winner with five seconds remaining in the extra frame. Wolford took a pass from defenceman Cameron Moger, danced gingerly over the blue line and into the slot where he fired a shot past Bucks goalie Nathan Airey for the victory.
After facing each other 10 times through April in the Penticton pod last season, the two teams split their opening matches of the 2021-22 season before meeting again on Saturday. With the win, the Smoke Eaters improve their record to 9-5-1-0 good for fourth spot in the Interior Division, while Cranbrook falls one game back with an 8-6-1-0 record.
The line of Zach Michaelis, Corey Cunningham, and Brady Hunter has been the hottest Smoke Eater trio of late.
Luke Pfoh put the Bucks up 1-0 with a power-play goal 2:42 into the opening frame, but the Smokies came back in the second.
Michaelis tied it 40 seconds into the middle frame cutting across the blue line and wiring a shot from the top of the left circle over the glove of Airey for his first of two goals in the game.
With 6:45 left in the middle frame, Hunter fed Cunningham who beat the Bucks goalie from the left circle for a 2-1 lead.
The end-to-end pace continued into the third period, when former U18 Kootenay Ice forward Noah Quinn notched his seventh of the campaign with a short-side shot over the shoulder of Smokies goalie Evan Fradette.
Two minutes later, Cranbrook regained a 3-2 lead when a Kellan Hjartarson’s shot from the slot deflected past the Smokies goalie.
But, the Smoke Eaters kept the pressure on and Michaelis notched his 11th of the year, batting a centering pass from Hunter out of the air and in, with less than two minutes to play to tie it at three and force the dramatic finish in the fourth period.
Michaelis, an Elk River, Minn. product, has tallied 11 goals and 15 points in 15 games this season, right behind Enfield, N.S. native, Brady Hunter, who leads the Smokies in scoring with four goals and 16 points.
Cranbrook held the edge in shots 36-34, and were 1-for-3 on the power play, while Trail went 0-for-4.
Trail next hosts the West Kelowna Warriors on Friday at the Cominco Arena at 7 p.m.