Penticton Vees captain Owen Sillinger corrals the puck with Trail Smoke Eaters defenceman Connor Welsh on his tail during Game 5 of the BCHL playoff series. The Smoke Eaters defeated the Vees and now hold a 3-2 lead in the series after defeating the Vees on Friday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre. Kristi Patton/Western News

Trail takes BCHL series lead over Penticton Vees

Trail Smoke Eaters defeat the Penticton Vees in Game 5

The Trail Smoke Eaters have jumped to a 3-2 series lead after defeating the Penticton Vees 4-3 in Game 5 of the Interior Division semifinal on Friday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

The Smoke Eaters opened the scoring just 4:21 in with Kale Howarth skating down the middle and firing a wrist shot over the glove of Adam Scheel.

Related: Home ice advantages in Vees-Smoke Eaters series

After the Vees killed off a penalty for too many men, Lukas Sillinger came out of the penalty box and came in on a two-on-one rush with Massimo Rizzo. Rizzo slid the puck to Sillinger on right wing who fired a one-timer on goal. Adam Marcoux nearly made a miraculous save, diving over to his left to get his glove on the shot, but the puck deflected up in the air and landed in the net to tie the game.

The penalty kill and goal seemed to spark the Vees, as they took the lead just 47 seconds later. After a Smokies pass was picked off at the blue line, Taylor Ward skated down the middle before finding Marcus Mitchell in the left circle. The Vees forward fired the puck past an outstretched Marcoux to give the Vees a 2-1 lead with 7:20 to play in the first. The Smokies were given a power play late in the period, but couldn’t take advantage as the shots read 10-4 for the Vees through 20.

The second period was nearly a polar opposite of the first. The Vees had difficulties generating offence through the full 20 minutes, registering just three shots on Marcoux.

The Vees also ran into penalty trouble, taking three penalties in a 5:29 span. Trail capitalized on the second one as Levi Glasman deflected in a pass to the front of the goal to tie the game with 5:55 to go in the period. The second mercifully came to an end with the Vees being outshot 15-3.

The first few minutes of the third appeared to be more of the same until the Vees started getting extended zone time deep in Trail territory.

Against the flow of play the Smoke Eaters would take the lead. After a puck just barely came out of the zone in their end, the Vees dumped it down the left wall but it was gathered by the Smoke Eaters to skate out three-on-two. Carter Jones came down the right wing before swinging a pass across the zone to Glasman who picked the top corner to give Trail a 3-2 lead with under 10 minutes to play.

Penticton got two more power plays in the final seven minutes of the period, and pulled Scheel to begin the second of those with two minutes to go. Unfortunately for the Vees, Wyatt Sloboshan’s shot was blocked by Andre Ghantous who skated out to centre before backhanding the puck into the open cage.

Taylor Ward would score on the power play with 18 seconds to go, but that was all the Vees would get as the game ended 4-3.

Penticton now faces a must-win situation Saturday night as the two teams meet at Cominco Arena at 7 p.m. for Game 6.

Ice Chips:

The Powell River Kings have advanced to round three of the BCHL playoffs after defeating the Victoria Grizzlies 4-3 on Friday night.

In Vernon, the Wenatchee Wild became the first team in the series to win game on the road courtesy of Chad Sasaki’s double-overtime winner that puts them up 3-2 in the series.

Trail Smoke Eaters

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