The Smoke Eaters put another solid 60 minutes together on Saturday night as they handed the Bulldogs their first regulation loss in seven games as they beat the Bulldogs 4-2 on home ice.
The Smoke Eaters powerplay was rolling tonight, going 3/4 and would had been perfect had the Smoke Eaters not been given a late powerplay in the third with just 15 seconds remaining in the third. Still just 3:35 into the game the powerplay got things rolling after captain Coalson Wolford drew his first of two penalties of the period. The Smoke Eaters moved the puck around and had multiple chances before finally Brady Hunter scored his fourth of the year on the pass from Zach Michaelis, who from the left point sent a perfect cross ice pass to the left circle for Hunter to put into the open cage and get the Smoke Eaters on the board.
It wouldn’t stop their for the Smoke Eaters who went back to the attack and 6 minutes later were once again rewarded with a powerplay opportunity and another goal for their efforts. This time it was Teddy Lagerback from the slot who put home the rebound on the shot from Hunter to beat Hobie Hedquist, the Alberni netminder, and make it 2-0 Trail.
Credit to the Bulldogs who pushed back in the second, outshooting the Smoke Eaters 12-8 and getting on the board, as they responded in the middle frame with an effort that mirrored the Smoke Eaters in terms of puck possession and limiting the Smoke Eaters chances and zone time. The Bulldogs who score on a powerplay goal of their own with just over two minutes to go in the second as Josh Van Unen finally beat Fradette to make it a 1 goal game.
The third was close to a perfect period for the Smoke Eaters. In a one goal game they came out with intensity, grit, and a determination to extend their lead to give them some breathing room. Again it was a powerplay goal and another in tight similar to Lagerback’s goal that temporarily restored the Smoke Eaters 2 goal lead. Corey Cunningham was the man on of the moment, scoring what would be the eventual game winner, as Willoughby and Moger moved the puck from side to side before Willoughby put it on net and Cunningham found the rebound to make it 3-1.
The Bulldogs would add one to make it interesting but the Smoke Eaters are well versed in these type of situations where they need to protect the lead while being clinical in breaking the puck out and finding an open man who has a clear lane to the empty net. Thats exactly what happened as Cunningham won the puck, passed ahead to Hunter who found Michaelis on the right side who would score his ninth goal of the year to seal the victory.
The Smoke Eaters have a quick turnaround as the Victoria Grizzlies come to town for a Sunday afternoon matinee at 3pm at the Trail Memorial Centre.