The Trail Smoke Eaters extended their modest winning streak to two games after an exciting 4-3 win at the Cominco Arena Wednesday.
The Smokies had reason to be optimistic, coming off what was arguably one of their best efforts of the season in a 3-1 win Saturday.
Leading 3-2 going into the third and looking for an insurance marker, the Smokies were stymied by Cents’ goalie Lino Chiementi. But after Trail AP Craig Martin failed to score on a penalty shot, defenceman Marley Keca took matters into his own hands, rushed up the left side beat three Centennials and slid Trail’s fourth goal by Chiementi.
However, the Centennials replied five minutes later when Dustin Lebrun beat goalie Lyndon Stanwood (not Stanwell) to the glove side.
The Centennials pressured Trail relentlessly firing 21 shots at the former Kamloops Storm goalie in the third period. But Stanwood stood tall, making huge saves in the final minutes to preserve the victory.
Trail’s recent signing looked sharp from the outset making a great blocker stop on a Centennial breakaway in the first 90 seconds of the game.
Trail’s special teams have also shown a big improvement and with Trail shorthanded, Connor Tiechko fed a pass to Erik Cooper who flew in and beat Chiementi on a breakaway.
The Smokies continued their gritty play. Taking their man at every chance and blocking shots during another Merritt powerplay.
With six minutes left in the period, the Smokies took advantage of a Merritt turnover as Tiechko chipped the puck past the Merritt defender, streaked in alone and beat Chiementi five hole.
At 1:26 of the second frame with the Cents on a powerplay, Evan Stack got the Cents on the board as he buried a puck after a flurry of action around Stanwood. But the Smokies would get it back three minutes later when Tiechko drove to the net and was stopped but Garrett McMullen pounced on the rebound to make it 3-1.
The Centennials netted their second about nine minutes into the period on a screen shot from the point but Stanwood would foil them time and time again, highlighted by a sliding pad save on a 2 on 0 late in the second.
Erik Cooper finished with a goal and an assist, while Tiechko had a three point night, with a goal and two asssists.
The final shots on goal were Merritt 45 and Trail 31.
The Smokies’ next home games go Friday and Saturday against the Chilliwack Chiefs. Fans are encouraged to support the Salvation Army Food Drive and donate a non-perishable food item at the games this weekend.