Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Smoke Eaters 3 Silverbacks 1

Finally!

After five previous tries the Smokies found success against a Salmon Arm team that has given them fits this season, and an early start was what Trail needed to do it. The Smokies scored all three of their goals by the time the game was 6 minutes and 8 seconds old, and Lyndon Stanwood made 32 saves to help his team finish the five-game homestand at .500.

Trail started things off just past the four-minute mark when Connor Tiechko snapped home a wrister through the legs of Silverbacks goaltender Adam Clark for his sixth goal of the season. Clark may have been partly screened by Tiechko's linemate Brent Baltus who was cutting through the low slot at the time of the play.

1:39 later, the Smokies while on a power-play increased their lead thanks to a nifty cross-crease pass from Riley McDougall to Tanner Clarkson. The West Kelowna product became the second Trail player to hit double-digits in goals this season (after departed Smokie Clayton Chessa), and extended his point streak to four games.

Just sixteen seconds after that, a Brandon Egli slapper found the back of the net on a second Trail power-play. For Egli, it was his first goal since the opening game of the season against Westside.

Travis Stephens scored the lone Salmon Arm goal early in the third period following a goal-mouth scramble in front of Stanwood.

The Silverbacks had their fair share of chances, though, most notably for Sean Flanagan early in the middle frame. With Stanwood down and out of the play Flanagan fired on goal from the low left circle only to have his shot parried away by a Trail defender. And after receiving his own rebound the Saskatchewan product fired another shot through the crease, wide of the goal.

And even though no one dropped the gloves on a chilly Wednesday in the West Kootenay, tempers definitely flared. The Silverbacks took exception to a hit by Smokies captain Clayton McEwan on Salmon Arm forward Jeff Kennedy at one blue line, then late in the game Stefan Nicholishen was tossed for a check from behind on Tiechko that the Trail forward never saw coming. The return engagement in Salmon Arm Saturday night could well prove as an opportunity for both parties to settle their differences.

Up Next: Before the back end of what serves as a home-and-home for Salmon Arm, the Smokies travel to Vernon Friday night to start the two-game mini-trip. The Salmon Arm game will be broadcast on the Smokies Ustream channel Saturday night.

But Still: If you missed tonight's second intermission feature with Wenatchee Wild president Bill Stewart, watch for the full nine-minute interview on Off the Wahl tomorrow (Thurs).

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