Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Silverbacks 5 Smoke Eaters 4 (OT)

Shane Hanna played 3-on-3 overtime hero as Salmon Arm won their fifth straight game over Trail this season, 5-4 at Cominco Arena Wednesday.

Hanna took a centring feed from new Silverback Travis Stephens at 3:01 of the 3-on-3 frame and tucked the puck underneath Smokies goaltender Lyndon Stanwood for his second goal of the season.

Salmon Arm opened the scoring 1:35 into the first period when Devin Muller intercepted an outlet pass in the Trail zone and scored short-handed. For the Swiss product, it was his 13th point against the Smoke Eaters this season and gave the visitors an early boost.

But Trail would reply just as quickly. Craig Martin (called up from KIJHL Beaver Valley) batted home his fourth BCHL goal this year two minutes later to level things at 1-1.

Salmon Arm scored twice early in the second, thanks to a Kody Dhaliwal centring pass that went in off a skate and a deft finishing job by Alex Gillies 39 seconds later, but the Smokies would answer back later in the middle frame, when Garrett McMullen put his own rebound past Silverbacks goaltender Adam Clark on a Trail power-play.

A Myles McCauley blaster from the high slot restored Salmon Arm's lead to 4-2 before the break, but the Smokies were undaunted.

After a point shot bounced off the shinpad of Salmon Arm blueliner Brendan Kennedy, Clayton Chessa marked his return to the Smokies lineup with a hot wrister 6:31 into the third. Fellow overager Erik Cooper tied things up with 4:26 left in regulation when he tapped home a centring pass from Brent Baltus.

Overtime was just as open, if not more so. After 4-on-4 decided nothing, the teams traded two-on-ones through the 3-on-3 extra time, before Hanna ended proceedings with his dramatic winner.

I was quite impressed by Trail's ability to bounce back tonight, both after surrendering the early goal and later when they found themselves trailing by two in the third period. Chessa was a force (offensively and defensively) on every shift he took, while rearguard Tanner Hicks logged a lot of minutes on a defensive pairing with Clayton McEwan, and started the rush that led to Cooper's late equalizer.

The point earned (Trail's first since November 29th) should be seen as a positive. The loss stings, but the focus now is on learning and ending the season with momentum to take into next year.

Up Next: The Smokies continue their five-game homestand Saturday night against the Victoria Grizzlies.

Local Look-See: Plenty of West Kootenay products figuring in tonight's out of town scores. Trail's Travis St. Denis had two goals and two assists in Penticton's 6-1 win over Vernon; Castlegar's Aaron Hadley had the lone Vipers marker. Trail's Steve Koshey scored the overtime winner tonight as Surrey beat Nanaimo 3-2. In the KIJHL, Smokies AP Jesse Collins scored twice, while fellow Trail affiliate Tre Potskin also tallied in Creston Valley's 4-3 win over Golden.

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