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SMOKIES START SLOW….FINISH BIG! DEFEAT MERRITT 8-5

ANDRE GHANTOUS – FOUR POINTS ON THE NIGHT

It wasn’t exactly the start the Smokies wanted against the Merritt Centennials in a crucial divisional game, but once they found their legs they outscored the Centennials 7-2 in the final two periods to skate away with an 8-5 win.  The Smokies’ power play was firing on all cylinders scoring 3 times on four chances.

Merritt got on the board first scoring just 21 seconds into the game on a goal by Stephen Seeger.  The Centennials went up 2-0 at 4:14 on a goal by Brett Jewell.  The Smokies pulled within 1 at 11:38 on a power play goal by Korbyn Chabot, his 6th of the season.  Assisting on the goal was Andre Ghantous with his 33rd of the year and Spencer McLean with his 13th.   Just 14 seconds later Centennials’, Nicholas Wicks, scored to make it 3-1, a lead the took to the dressing room.

In the second, Trail’s Connor Brown Maloski scored his 15th of the season on a power play at 5:28 to narrow the lead to 3-2.  Luke Santerno and Carter Cochrane assisted on the marker.  In the back and forth battle the Centennials made it 4-2 less than a minute later, at 6:27,  on a goal by Zach Court.  At 10:48 Jeremy Lucchini, of the Smokies, pulled them within one making it 4-3, with his 2nd goal of the season.  Assisting on the goal was Trails’ captain Connor Brown Maloski with his 36th of the year.  What may have been the turning point of the game, when it looked like Merritt scored to make it a 5-3 game, the goal was disallowed as Merritt’s Rylan Van Unen was assessed an interference penalty.   On the ensuing power play the Smokies’ Blaine Caton scored his 14th of the year to tie the game at 4.  Andre Ghantous and Korbyn Chabot assisted on the goal.  At 16:01 of the period Andre Ghantous collected his third point on the night when he scored to put Trail up 5-4 with the assist going to affiliate Justen James.

Merritt tied the game at 5 early in the third on a goal by Zach Risteau at 1:22.  From this point the Smokies went on to score three unanswered goals to take win.  Blaine Caton scored his 15th of the season and 2nd on the night at 6:09 with the assist going to Andre Ghantous, his 4th point in the game.  Just 46 seconds later Trail’s Korbyn Chabot potted his 7th goal of the year and second on the night to put the Smokies up 7-5.  Braeden Tuck assisted on the goal.  At 18:04, with Merritt’s goaltender pulled for an extra attacker,  Braeden Tuck collected his 5th of the year as he picked up a puck in the neutral zone and put it into the empty net to round out the scoring.

KORBYN CHABOT CELEBRATING ONE OF TWO ON THE NIGHT

Smokies’ Blaine Caton was named first star of the game with two goals on the night including the winning goal.  Second star of the game was Trail’s captain, Connor Brown Maloski with a goal and an assist.  Third star was Smokies’ Andre Ghantous with four points in the game, 1 goal and 3 assists.  Fortis Energy Player of the Game was Trails’ Korbyn Chabot who had two goals and an assist.   In addition to his two goals and an assist his physical presence throughout the game kept the visitors looking over their shoulders in the game.

CONNOR BROWN MALOSKI SCORING TRAIL’S SECOND GOAL

The Smokies travel to Merritt on Saturday to complete the home and home series.  The game will see the return of Josh Laframboise who sat out his final game of his suspension on Friday night.  Fridays game in Trail saw the  return of Tyson Slater who missed several games due to injury.  Justen James an affiliate player from Creston Valley Thunder had a strong game for the Smokies.

Trail’s next home game is on Friday, February 24 when they host the Vernon Vipers.  Game time is 7:30 pm.  It will be Trails’ last home game of the year before playoffs.

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