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After four early season losses the Smokies finally solved the Merritt Centennials last night in Merritt.  The Smokie’s, Andre Ghantous, led the way for Trail with a goal and 2 assists in the 5-3 win.

The Centennials opened the scoring at 15:30 of the first period on a goal by Stephen Seeger.  The Smokies answered at 17:45 when Andre Ghantous broke in over the blueline and took a pass from Spencer McLean then wristed a shot past Merritt’s Jacob Berger.  Jeremy Lucchini also collected an assist on the play.  In the period the Smokies outshot the Centennials 16-10.

The Smokies took control of the game in the second period scoring four unanswered goals and a 5-1 lead.  Blaine Caton opened the scoring at 4:44 of the period when he broke in, split two defenders and put a backhand shot past Berger.  Jeremy Lucchini and Andre Ghantous assisted on the play.  At 10:24, affiliate player, Justen James from the Creston Valley Thunder, scored his first goal for the Smokies and in the BCHL to put Trail up 3-1.  James pounced on a rebound after a shot from the half wall by Tyler Ghirardosi.  Also, assisting on the play was Bradley Ross.  Ghirardosi and Ross are also affiliate players called up from the Beaver Valley Nitehawks.  At 14:03 Luke Santerno fired a shot from the half wall also beating Berger from a bad angle.  Assisting on the play was Josh Laframboise and Mitchell Barker who did great work at the Centennials blueline to keep the puck in play.  The goal was Santerno’s 29th of the season and proved to be the winning goal of the game.  At 18:40 Carter Cochrane scored a highlight goal when he skated in from the blueline put a great move on a Centennials defender and put a backhander past Lancaster who was replaced in the Cents net after the fourth goal.  Andre Ghantous and Blaine Caton assisted on the goal.

The Smokies were held scoreless in the third while the Centennnials tried to mount a comeback with two goals of their own.  The Cents, Nick Fidanza and Henry Cleghorn scored for the home team at 8:12 and 13:33 respectively.  The Smokies held tough for the remainder of the game and skated off with the 5-3 win.

A pleasant surprise for the Smokies this season has been the play of Andre Ghantous who now has 38 points, with 30 of those points being assists.  The line of Ghantous, McLean and Caton has been one of the hardest working lines for the Smokies this year.  Ghantous was named first star of the game, Blaine Caton second star and Merritt’s Henry Cleghorn was third star.  Fortis Energy Player of the Game was Centennial’s Nick Fidanza.

On the night Trail outshot the Centennials 42-35 and went 0/5 on the power play.  The Cents were 1/2 on the PP.

The Smokies had 6 regulars out of the lineup and had four affiliate players in the game last night.  Bradley Ross, Tyler Ghirardosi and Karsten Jang of the Beaver Valley Nitehawks all played well.  Also, in the lineup was affiliate, Justen James from the Creston Valley Thunder.  Ross, Ghirardosi and James combined to score Trail’s third goal.

With the win the Smokies have taken over third place in the Interior Division, two points ahead of the Centennials and three points ahead of West Kelowna, who are in fourth place.

Trail’s next home game is on Saturday when they play host to the division leading Penticton Vees.   Game time is 7:00 PM at the Cominco Arena.