The Trail Smoke Eaters ended their season on a winning note beating the Merritt Centennials 5-2 in Merritt on Saturday.
Dexter McLeod would net the winner at 5:26 of the second period on the power play, taking a Dallas Calvin pass down low and tapping it home to put the Smokies up 3-1.
The Centennials had already clinched a playoff berth and third seed in the Interior division with a 5-1 victory over Salmon Arm on Friday and were resting some of their top guys, but Trail still battled hard to win its final game of the season. Meanwhile the Silverbacks lost their chance at the post season when they fell to the league leading Penticton Vees 2-1 in overtime Saturday, and West Kelowna beat the league’s worst team, the Surrey Eagles, 6-2, to edge the Silverbacks by one point for the fourth and final playoff spot.
Craig Martin opened the scoring at 9:55 of the first period beating Anthony Pupplo with a wrist shot, and Jake Lucchini would score his 35th of the season to make it 2-0 just 48 seconds later. The Centennials would get one back before the end of the period, after Trail goalie Brett Clark made a great save off Gavin Gould, John Schiavo would shovel in the rebound to make it 2-1.
Following McLeod’s game winner, Calvin would get one of his own with under five minutes to play in the middle frame to make it 4-1 heading to the third where the teams would exchange goals to end the regular season.
The game ended what was a disappointing year for the Smoke Eaters, after a great start, injuries took their toll and an extended midseason slump all but decided their playoff fate.
The Centennials start their playoff on Tuesday versus the Vernon Vipers, while the Warriors play the Penticton Vees.
See more on the Smoke Eaters in Tuesday’s Trail Times.