Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Smoke Eaters 3 Warriors 2 (OT)

Tyler Berkholtz couldn't have picked a better time to score his first goal on Cominco Arena ice.

The 20 year-old roofed a shot after a gorgeous feed from Connor Collett on a two-on-one in overtime to lift the Smokies to their fourth straight home-ice win, 3-2 over the West Kelowna Warriors.

It was Berkholtz's third goal of the season, but first at home as a Smoke Eater after three years (and a 20-goal season) with Alberni Valley. It sent the crowd of 700+ home happy as the Smokies swept a three-game homestand and edged a skilled Warriors team despite playing their fourth game in five days.

Trail had to claw back twice from one-goal deficits, the first coming just shy of the three-minute mark as Warriors forward Brennan Clark fired home a wrist shot from the right circle.

The Smokies would equalize at 10:42, though. At the tail end of a Warrior penalty, forward Scott Davidson deflected a Djordje Leposavic point shot through the legs of West Kelowna starter Tyler Briggs for his second goal in three games.

The Warriors would reclaim the lead before the end of the first, though. Marcus Basara chipped home a rebound at the side of the Trail goal for his third goal in as many outings against Trail this season.

Basara's goal rounded out the scoring until the midway mark of the third period (despite both teams enjoying glorious chances), when Collett banged his own rebound past Briggs from the top of the crease. It was the Calgary product's first goal with Trail after being acquired earlier in the year from the AJHL's Okotoks Oilers.

The Warriors enjoyed the best chance of the third shortly thereafter, as a risky pinch from a Trail defenseman prompted a 3-on-1 rush the other way. West Kelowna forward Reid Simmonds then found himself alone in the slot, but couldn't wire a shot past the blocker hand of Trail starter Lyndon Stanwood, who made 35 saves.

In all, it was another workmanlike effort for the Smokies, who like Sunday against Powell River were very disciplined, giving West Kelowna only two power-play opportunities. Trail's penalty-kill has surrendered only one goal in four home games.

Affiliate player Ryan Edwards got stronger as the game went on too. The 19 year-old Beaver Valley forward skated mostly on a line with Collett and Luke Sandler, and worked hard at both ends of the ice. At long last, Ontario import Bryce Knapp saw game action for the first time this season after being placed on the injured list during exhibition play, and showed some promise down the left wing.

The story, again, was Stanwood, who made 21 saves in the final two periods and held the Smokies in the game at times with steady, confident goaltending. He has been simply unreal on home ice this season, and is a big part of the club's unblemished record at Cominco Arena so far this year.

My Three Stars:
1. Lyndon Stanwood, Trail
2. Tyler Briggs, West Kelowna
3. Connor Collett, Trail

Up Next: The Smokies visit the Okanagan for two games this weekend, beginning with a rematch with the Warriors Friday in West Kelowna. From there, Trail will face former Smokie Sam Mellor and the Penticton Vees Saturday before some time off for Thanksgiving.

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