The Smoke Eaters haven’t done it often, but they came back to beat the Capitals 4-3 with an Owen Ozar game winner.
It had a playoff atmosphere on Friday night as the Smoke Eaters welcomed in the Cowichan Valley Capitals to close out 2019. The Smoke Eaters, who now enjoy a ten day break, had to work for their peace of mind before they could start their holidays. It started with the Kent Johnson show, as it often does, the 17-year-old add his 26th and 27th goals of the year in dramatic fashion. The first, was one he pulled of last season, ‘The Michigan’ at 7:32 of the first period as Johnson tucked one top corner on Zach Borgiel who looked stunned, as did the crowd, as to what had just happened. The Capitals though didn’t let that bother them though as they would score the next two goals. Firstly Matt Crasa, who leads all rookies in goals added his 21st of the year. Then 4 minutes later Tanner Sidaway would find a rebound on a shot from the point to give the Caps a 2-1 lead. Johnson didn’t wait long to answer as he picked off an outlet pass from Capitals defender Dimitri Mikrogiannakis inside the the Caps blueline, deked forehand, backhand top corner to tie the game at 2 going to the intermission.
In the second the Smoke Eaters were on the wrong side of the referee in a game that was getting increasingly chippy, as they had too kill five penalties, one of which was a 1:32 of 5-on-3. The Smokies penalty kill put in a shift but didn’t allow the Capitals to take the lead while on the man advantage. Cowichan did score however late in the middle frame with a goal from their captain Cruz Cote to take the lead 3-2 into the third period.
Like the Smoke Eaters the Capitals had a strong record when leading after two periods. The Smoke Eaters were 3-10 when trailing after two periods, a record they would improve on thanks to goals from Mike Colella and Owen Ozar. Firstly Colella scored at 5:05 of the third. Jaden Senkoe rushed around the Caps defender and took a back hand shot from the right side that came off Borgiel, out into the middle for Colella to score his 16th of the season. Ozar would score the game winner on a wonderful solo effort that summed up what he’s been about all year. Ozar picked off the back pass form the defencemen inside the Cowichan zone and went to the net, while being tied up his first shot was blocked and came right back to him for a second shot he chopped over Borgiel, who was down on the first shot. A play that Ozar never gave up on and was rewarded for his efforts as he added his 16th of the year on a 3 point night. Smoke Eaters net minder Logan Terness was busy stopping 38 of 41 shots with a few crucial saves as well.
The Smoke Eaters now break for the Holidays and will came back with a three game set against the Merritt Centennials on January 3rd in Merritt.