A night after a 7-1 shelling in Coquitlam, and without captain Garrett McMullen, Trail showed poise and offensive flair, handing the Chiefs their first home loss since late September.
Chilliwack started strong, going ahead on an Austin Plevy rebound just past the seven-minute mark to send teddy bears raining down on the Prospera Centre ice. The Chiefs would take a 2-0 lead before the break after Ben Israel's point shot deflected off Adam Wheeldon's stick, off the end glass then back out front onto the stick of BCHL scoring leader Luke Esposito.
Trail came storming out of the gate in the second. First, Sandler picked Chiefs goalie Josh Halpenny's pocket behind the net, feeding the puck out front to Wheeldon who tapped in his third goal of the year. Baltus would get into the act less than a minute later, scoring on a rebound off a Braden Pears point shot.
Sandler would add a third later in the period, sliding a rebound beneath an outstretched Halpenny as Trail fired 19 shots on goal in the middle frame.
The one-goal lead exploded into a 6-2 advantage by the four-minute mark of the third. First, Sandler intercepted a pass at his own blue line, then sped around the Chiefs defence to score his tenth of the season on a breakaway.
Baltus would fire home his second of the game before Sandler completed his hat-trick with a laser beam from above the left-wing circle that found the top corner.
Garrett Forster would round out the scoring on a two-on-one in the final minute.
Lyndon Stanwood collected his first win in goal since November 9th, making 33 saves as Trail snapped a five-game losing streak.
The victory, Trail's fourth this season away from Cominco Arena, also matched last season's road win total. With injuries, the flu, and a third game in as many days throwing obstacles at the team, tonight's showing proved the value of hard work and determination as the Smokies never quit even despite falling behind early. Trail now moves to within a point of both Salmon Arm and Vernon with a date with the Vipers slated for Thursday.
My Three Stars:
1. Luke Sandler, Trail
2. Brent Baltus, Trail
3. Braden Pears, Trail
Up Next: the Smokies travel to Vernon to face the Vipers Thursday. Game time is 7 pm at Wesbild Centre.
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