Max French pounced on a rebound early in the third period to break a 2-2 tie, and Tyler Briggs made 30 saves to lead the Warriors past the Smokies 4-2 at Royal Lepage Place Tuesday.
French found a loose puck in the low slot and snapped a quick shot past Trail goaltender Adam Todd to inch the Warriors closer to second place, and deny the Smokies a chance to halve the gap between them and fourth place Salmon Arm.
The Smoke Eaters started brightly, going ahead midway through the first period on Austin Adduono's sixth goal of the season. The forward accepted a pass from pointman Bennett Hambrook and outwaited Briggs, backhanding the puck into the open net.
Trail held the lead until early in the second, when Seb Lloyd broke away from the Smoke Eater defence, backhanding a shot through Todd's legs. West Kelowna found the lead later in the period through leading scorer Marcus Basara, and held a 2-1 lead through fourty minutes.
But again, the Smokies would find their third-period moxie on a two-man advantage, when captain Garrett McMullen tipped home Shane Poulsen's point shot in the opening minute. The even pegging would only last until French's go-ahead marker at 3:09, then Brennan Clark tucked home an empty-netter with 16 seconds left to seal the Warrior win.
Both goaltenders were strong, with Todd making numerous important stops on a Warrior offense that came alive in the second period. Briggs saved his best for the third period, including a robbery on Luke Sandler after the Trail winger found himself in the clear in the left circle.
The Warriors also dressed only five defenseman, with 20 year-old Josh Monk registering three assists.
Trail remains four points shy of the final playoff berth held by Salmon Arm. The SilverBacks host Merritt Wednesday.
My Three Stars:
1. Josh Monk, West Kelowna
2. Austin Adduono, Trail
3. Tyler Briggs, West Kelowna
Up Next: 5 of the final half-dozen games of Trail's schedule are at home, beginning Friday against the Cowichan Valley Capitals. Game time is 7:30 at Cominco Arena.
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