A four-goal outburst in the second period was the Trail Smoke Eaters undoing Saturday night in Penticton.
Defenseman Francesco Dell’Elce’s first of two goals in the period on a power play at 1:49 stood up as the winner in the 6-1 Vees victory. It came after Smokies veteran winger, Josh Schenk was ejected for a checking from behind penalty, which forced Head Coach Tim Fragle to juggle his lines for the rest of the game.
Dell’Elce would add his second goal on another one-time shot from the mid-point near the end of the period.
The game’s pivotal goal came 14 minutes later, when defenseman Matthew Biotti snapped a one-timer from the right point past Trail goalie Teagan Kendrick, just one second after Mathieu Cobetto-Roy stepped out of the penalty box to give Penticton a 3-1 lead.
The Vees kept swarming in Smokies territory and Attila Lippai scored during a shift that saw the home side create several opportunities.
Callum Arnott closed out the scoring early in the third period on a breakaway, while James Fisher opened the scoring about seven minutes into the first period.
The Vees spent the third period stacking the neutral zone and making sure they had defenders between the puck and their net, making it difficult for Trail to mount an offensive attack.
Jason Stefanek’s sensational snipe on a beautiful backhander from the slot after a backhand pass from the boards by Patrick Reilly during a four-on-four situation just past the midway point of the first period was the Smokies lone goal and sent the teams into their dressing rooms tied at one after twenty minutes.
Penticton outshot the Smokies 41-23 and went 1-for-2 on the power play. Trail did not have any manpower advantages in the game.
Vees goalie Will Ingemann, who picked up his 10th win of the season, didn’t make the trip to Cranbrook on Friday night.
Penticton now has points in 16 straight games, following a regulation loss on opening night in West Kelowna.
The Smokies now take on a well rested Bucks team who had Saturday night off with an early start to the game Sunday in Cranbrook. Opening face-off is set for 4:00 p.m. Mountain Time or 3:00 p.m. on the bodies of the boys from Trail.
The Bucks are also riding the momentum of their 4-3 win in overtime over the Vees.