By Guy Bertrand, Trail Times
One night after a narrow overtime win, the Trail Smoke Eaters left little doubt about their superiority with a dominating 7-2 win over the West Kelowna Warriors Saturday night.
Over 1,800 fans were at the Cominco Arena to watch the Smokies control the game from start to finish and grab a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven Interior Division quarterfinal.
The series now shifts to West Kelowna for Game 3 on Monday night and Game 4 Tuesday. If Game 5 is necessary, it’s set for Trail on Thursday at 7 p.m.
The Smokies got two goals from Levi Glasman with singles going to Braeden Tuck, Spencer McLean, Mack Byers, Ryan Murphy and Blaine Caton.
Trail netminder Adam Marcoux stopped 23 of 25 shots, giving up two goals in the third period, while Nik Amundrud faced a 44-shot barrage in the West Kelowna goal.
Unlike Friday night’s Game 1, which saw the momentum swing back and forth and eventually decided in overtime, Trail took control from the opening faceoff and never let West Kelowna get close.
The Smokies jumped out to a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes and upped it to 5-0 after two periods.
Although West Kelowna finally broke Marcoux’s shutout bid in the third, they rarely mustered any sustained pressure. Eventually their frustration boiled over but Trail wisely avoided the Warriors attempt to draw them into penalties.
The first period set the tone for the game as Trail showed more jump out of the gate than in Game 1, where they trailed 3-1 after the opening frame Friday night.
But not Saturday night.
Tuck showed great patience as Amundrud overplayed himself leaving the Smokies forward the opportunity to tuck the puck into the Warriors’ goal just past the two-minute mark.
McLean finished off one of many flurries in the Warriors zone by lifting the puck into the West Kelowna net to make 2-0 five minutes later.
And with five minutes left in the period, Glasman made it 3-0 Trail finishing off another scramble in front of Amundrud.
Both goaltenders faced 11 shots in the first period with Marcoux coming up with a couple of key stops including a point-blank save off of Chase Dubois midway through the frame. Dubois, who was in on all five goals for West Kelowna in Game 1, was foiled again by Marcoux in the third period.
Trail turned up the heat in the second period blasting a total of 24 shots at Amundrud who yielded goals to Caton and Glasman’s second of the night.
Trail’s relentless offensive pressure and quick counter-attack had the Warriors’ defenders on the heels for most of the 60- minutes.
After Byers’ power play goal six minutes into the third, West Kelowna finally broke the goose egg on Willie Reim’s power play marker midway through the final frame.
Murphy replied 42 seconds later and Michael Lombardi added the Warriors second goal with just over a minute left in the game.
Unlike Friday, where West Kelowna potted four of their five goals on the power play, they managed only one goal with the man advantage while Trail scored four power play markers on 11 opportunities.
In other Interior Division playoff action Saturday night, Penticton smothered Coquitlan 9-2 to take a 2-0 series lead, Wenatchee is also up 2-0 on Merritt thanks to a 6-4 win, and Vernon notched that same score against Salmon Arm to go up 2-0 in their series.
In the Mainland Division, Prince George beat Chilliwack 2-0 to even their series at one apiece while Surrey took a 2-0 series lead over Langley with a 5-3 victory.
The Island Division playoffs saw Nanaimo even their tilt with Powell River thanks to a 4-3 victory. The other series resumes Sunday with Alberni Valley leading their series with Victoria 1-0.