Great plays, even better saves, and a dramatic finish capped off the Trail Smoke Eaters rubber match against the Powell River Kings on Sunday at the Cominco Arena.
Smokies forward Blaine Caton broke a 1-1 tie, scoring a power-play goal with 58 seconds remaining on the clock to lift the Smokies to a 2-1 victory over the Kings.
It was a goaltenders duel from the start as the Smokies were stymied early by Kings goaltender Matteo Paler-Chow on a couple power-play opportunities. Trail goalie Tanner Marshall was equal to the task and thwarted the Kings forwards time and again in the second period, highlighted by an amazing glove save on a Mitch Williams breakaway, as the Kings outshot Trail 15-7 in the middle frame.
But the turning point came at the end of the second period when the Kings held a two-man advantage into the third. After hitting a post, a little Marshall magic kept Powell River off the scoreboard. The penalty kill gave the Smokies some jump, and Trail had two glorious opportunities but Paler-Chow robbed the Trail forward on a breakaway, and Caton fired a point-blank shot off the inside of the post.
The goose egg was finally broken midway through the third, when Jeremy Lucchini shot down the right wing and hit Daine Dubois on a cross-crease pass for the tap in at 9:43. But less than a minute later, Powell River’s Kevin Obssuth won a battle for the puck in the Trail end, and fed Hunter Findlater in front, who fired it off the post and in to tie the game.
The frantic pace continued with the teams trading chances, but a hit to the head penalty to Kings forward Carter Turnbull with 1:34 remaining resulted in a Smokies power play. Lucchini again started the play, hitting Braden Tuck down low. The Trail forward fed Caton with a backdoor pass at the side of the net and the Vernon native fired it by Paler-Chow for the 2-1 victory.
The win caps off a four-point weekend for the Smoke Eaters, following a 5-4 win over the Victoria Grizzlies on Friday. Powell River outshot Trail 32-26, but the Smokies victory puts the team in second place in the Interior Division at 9-3-1-0. Marshall earned his first win at home and fifth of the season, and was named the game’s first star. Caton earned second star honours, while Paler-Chow was the third star. Lucchini, meanwhile, was named the Fortis energy player of the game with two assists, and netted his fifth point in the past three games.
Trail’s next home game goes Friday against the Cowichan Valley Capitals at 7 p.m. and hosts the Vernon Vipers on Sunday at 3 p.m.