The season may have come to an end for the Smokies with the 6-2 loss to Vernon last night, in Vernon, but they took great strides this season proving they can be a force to be reckoned with in the Interior Division. Making the playoffs for the first time in seven years and going to the second round is a solid building block for next season. The Smokies injury riddled lineup gave the Vipers all they could handle in last night’s contest. With four key players out of the lineup due to injury and three players in the lineup fighting injuries the Smokies pushed the Vipers to the limit. Out of the lineup for the Smokies were Ryan Moon, Kyle Chernenkoff, Ryan Warner and Korbyn Chabot. Injured player, Josh Lamframboise tried one shift for the Smokies but didn’t play again. Carter Cochrane and Kale Howarth tried to play through their injuries but saw limited action in the third period.
The Vipers got on the board first at 2:06 when Austin Admanson tipped in a shot from the point past Zach Dyment. Trail tied the game at 5:46 when Connor Brown Maloski sent Mitch Barker in on a partial break-away. Barker dropped the puck back to Luke Santerno in the slot who fired a shot at Viper’s netminder, Darion Hanson, who made the save. Barker picked up the rebound and fired it into the net. The Smokies took a 2-1 lead less than 2 minutes later with a power play goal. It was a great three-way passing play when Connor Brown Maloski passed the puck to Ross Armour in the circle and he in turn passed the puck to Blain Caton in the slot who fired it past Hanson. The Vipers tied the game 45 seconds later when Michael Ufberg scored on a slap shot past Dyment from the top of the right hand circle. In what would prove to be the turning point of the game Vernon scored a short-handed goal at 13:40 of the second when Jagger Williamson got behind the Trail defence and picked up a puck that rebounded off the boards behind the Trail net and put it behind Zach Dyment.
The Viper’s got the all important fourth goal at 7:03 of the third when Cooper Watson picked up the puck along the boards just inside the blueline and fired a shot past Dyment. The Viper’s went on to score two empty net goals, as Trail tried to even the score with the extra attacker.
Trail finished with three players in the top five playoff scoring. Luke Santerno and Carter Cochrane were tied in third and fourth with 14 points while Connor Brown Maloski had 13 points in fifth place. Top two point getters from Merritt and Chilliwack have 16 and 15 points respectively.
The Smoke Eater organization would like to extend a great big “Thank You” to all the fans that supported them throughout the season and the playoffs. Don’t forget to pick up your season ticket for next year!
“REMEMBER – BLEED ORANGE”