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Playoff Game Day | TRA at VER (Game 5)

After breaking through with a victory Wednesday night at Cominco Arena, the Trail Smoke Eaters face elimination from the 2024 playoffs again Friday night in hostile territory.

They are behind three-games-to-one and need a victory tonight at Kal Tire Place in Vernon to force a sixth game of this opening round series, slated for Sunday in Trail.

The 3-2 win in game four featured a power play goal by Mathieu Cobetto-Roy with one-tenth-of-a-second remaining in the first period, a two goal effort by Jason Stefanek and a second star performance from rookie goalie, Ryan Parker.

But it was Vernon netminder Ethan David who made what could be the BCHL’s save-of-the-year.

He hustled back before getting to the bench to give the Vipers a sixth attacker in the dying moments of the third period and dove to rob Adam Parsons of what looked like a sure goal that would have put the game away.

The Trail defense fended off the final push by Vernon that followed David’s dramatics.

The game on Wednesday was devoid of the nastiness of game three, which escalated from the physicality during the first two games in Vernon.

Trail defenseman Jack Kennedy returned after missing games two and three with an upper body injury, suffered late in the opener and was a stabilizing force in game four.

The Smokies tweaked their lines before Wednesday’s win and mounted a 41-shot attack, while the power play went 2-for-3 and were 4-for-8 during the two games in Trail.

Trail’s penalty killers also extinguished all five Vernon power plays over the last two games.

Smokies veterans Cobetto-Roy, Jason Stefanek and Adam Parsons all broke out with two goals each over the last two games as Trail shooters appear to have found the range with low shots under David’s trapper.

However, Vernon’s rookie line of Erik Pastro, Shea Busch and Bronson Ross have emerged to give the Vipers a balanced offensive attack. Pastro and teammate Owen Kim lead the series with four points each.

A striking point producer for the Smoke Eaters is defenseman Alec Whipple with three assists. Defenseman Adam Barone, along with forwards Cobetto-Roy and Jason Stefanek also have three points.

Smoke Eater success in Vernon could depend on an improved third period.

They’ve been outscored 11-3 in the final frame throughout the series.

Opening face-off for game five is set for 7 p.m. and can be heard on Mixlr or watched on FloHockey.