Trail callup Craig Martin tucks home the fourth Smokies goal in the third period (Randy Emery photo)
The Smokies set a new season high with six goals for, and three third-period tallies paced Trail to a second straight victory on home ice Thursday against Alberni Valley.
It was the Bulldogs who opened the scoring, as ex-Smoke Eater Daniel DelBianco snuck in from the point 4:54 into the first period to score only his third BCHL goal in his first game against his former team.
Trail answered back quickly, though. Erik Cooper received a generous bounce off the end boards and tucked a puck past an out-of-position Matt Larose 4:59 later, before Connor Tiechko put home a Joren Johnson point blast that squibbed through the Bulldog netminder's legs later in the opening frame.
The Bulldogs tied the game 5:28 into the second on a Cooper-esque end board bounce that was tapped home by Ryan Lough, but then a mid-period penalty to Alberni Valley served as the prequel to the eventual game-winner.
Marley Keca's one-timer landed on the stick of former Port Alberni resident Brent Baltus, who put home his third goal in as many games to put Trail in front before the second intermission.
The Bulldogs came storming out of the gate in the third period, similar to their first-period start, but Smokies goaltender Lyndon Stanwood made a number of saves (and received help from the crossbar on one occasion) to keep the Trail lead at 3-2.
A defensive zone turnover by Alberni Valley 5 minutes into the third precipitated a break for AP callup Craig Martin. The 16 year-old coolly outwaited Larose (after receiving a nifty pass from Riley McDougall) to deposit his fifth BCHL goal of the season.
Baltus would add his second minutes later after fishing a loose puck out of the top of the crease, before Tanner Clarkson wired home a wrister from the right circle later in the period to round out the scoring.
The game was not without physicality. The Bulldogs' Turner Popoff took exception to being thrust to the ground by Cooper in the first period after attempting to throw a check. The two exchanged blows before the Smokies' leading scorer was brought to the ice.
Then in the third period, Bulldogs defenseman DelBianco engaged Smokies rearguard Brandon Egli in front of the Trail goal. DelBianco was forced to the locker room after Egli landed a couple of blows late in the tilt.
Alberni Valley's Justin Morello also left the game in the second period and did not return.
Up Next: The Smokies are back on home ice in search of a better result against the Chilliwack Chiefs Saturday night. Trail led 3-0 a week ago at Prospera Centre only to fall 4-3 on a Shay Laurent winner.