Evan Tironese and former Kootenay Ice midget Tryg Strand each had a goal and an assist, while Luke Sandler became the second Smokie to reach 20 goals this season after a second successive two-goal effort.
Trail opened the scoring seconds after a power-play elapsed at the 3:35 mark, when Jesse Knowler slapped a backhand shot from the goalline that banked in off the shoulder of Alberni Valley starter Brad Rebagliati. But the Bulldogs replied just over 2 minutes later when Teal Burns converted on a 2-on-1, then took the lead late in the first period on a terrific solo effort from Strand, who juked around a Trail defender and bullied the puck past goaltender Adam Todd.
The first half of the second period was even more fruitful for the hosts, who went up 3-1 1:30 in on another odd-man rush that was converted by Hunter Stewart. Tironese deflected a Bo Pellah point shot through traffic to make it 4-1 before the Smokies found a mid-period spark courtesy of Scott Davidson, who was sprung in alone on a long stretch pass from Garrett McMullen, beating Rebagliati with a wrist shot for his second goal in as many games.
Sandler's seeing-eye wrister made it 4-3 just over a minute later, but Trail's inability to capitalize on the man-advantage manifested itself before the period was out, when a trailing Chase Van Allen snapped home a short-handed marker from the high slot.
Sandler would rip home a rebound just past the 3-minute mark of the third to cut the lead to 5-4, but again Trail's power-play inefficiency continued to pose problems. The Smokies were unable to capitalize on 7 minutes of power-play time, including a major to Bulldogs defenseman Jared Wilson, who nailed Knowler at centre with a stiff shoulder check to the head. Knowler returned to the game after being down on the ice for 3 minutes.
Trail pulled goaltender Lyndon Stanwood (who started the third period) with 2:05 on the clock, but could not beat Rebagliati and found themselves down 2 men with 10.3 seconds left in regulation time. Inexplicably, Trail then found a way to generate a 2-on-1 rush, but forward Austin Adduono was robbed in the dying moments by a diving Rebagliati to preserve the Alberni Valley win.
With Salmon Arm's win in Chilliwack tonight, Trail again finds themselves down 3 points with both clubs in action Sunday.
Trail outshot Alberni Valley 41-26.
My 3 Stars:
1. Evan Tironese, Alberni Valley
2. Luke Sandler, Trail
3. Tryg Strand, Alberni Valley
Up Next: Trail pays a visit to Langley tomorrow to wrap up the road trip. Game time is 2:00.
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