TRAIL, BC –The month of January hasn’t been so kind to the Penticton Vees and Saturday night wasn’t any different, as they Trail Smoke Eaters rallied for a 6-3 come from behind Victoria at Cominco Arena.
Trailing 3-2 early in the third period, the Smoke Eaters scored four unanswered, including the game-winner by Ryan Moon with just under four-minutes left, as they beat Penticton for the second time this month. It was a five goal third period for Trail, who started the final frame down 2-1.
Moon, Luke Santerno, Jeremy Lucchini, Josh Laframboise and Kale Howarth all scored in the third period for Trail. Blaine Caton also scored late in the second period, as the Smoke Eaters won their third straight. Linden Marshall picked up the win, stopping 26 of 29 shots and their power-play went two for five.
Griffin Mendel scored his first goal in over a calendar year, and Taylor Ward and Nicholas Jones scored in the second and third period respectively for Penticton, but it wasn’t enough, as they dropped their second straight and now are winless in their last four games. Mat Robson was tagged with the loss, stopping 43 of 49 shots.
Mendel scored the only goal in the first period, when he hammered the puck right off a face-off in the Trail end. Matt Gosiewski, who assisted on the Vees’ first two goals, won the draw right back to Mendel who blasted the puck past Marshall at 13:05. It was Mendel’s first goal since December of 2015, which gave the Vees their first lead since the third period against Salmon Arm last Sunday.
Ward doubled the Vees’ lead early in the second with some nifty stick work at the side of the Trail net. Ward grabbed the puck on the goal-line, then put the puck and stick between his legs, lifting the puck up and over Marshall at the post at 1:25; Ward’s eighth of the year putting Penticton ahead 2-0.
Despite that goal, the Smoke Eaters had the upper-hand in the frame, peppering Robson with 20-shots but the Vees’ netminder did everything in his power to preserve the lead. Trail’s pressure paid off late in the frame, as they cut into the Vees’ lead on a goal from Blaine Caton.
Spencer McLean smartly tipped the puck ahead to Caton, who came down the right-side with a head full of steam and put a backhand up and over Robson’s glove at 18:22; the Vees’ lead cut in half heading into the second intermission.
Early in the third the game opened up as the two teams combined for three goals in just one minute.
Luke Santerno tied it for Trail after he took a pass from out of the corner and went post and in past Robson at 4:51; Howarth with the no-luck dish out to Santerno who scored his team-leading 30th. That celebration didn’t last long for Trail However.
20-seconds after Santerno scored, Nicholas Jones put the Vees back ahead on a great individual effort down the wing. Jonny Tychonick hit a streaking Jones on the left-wing on a pass from the blue-line, and Jones cut hard to the goal and tucked the puck around the goalie’s pad on the far-side at 5:11.
Immediately after that goal the Vees ran into penalty troubled and it cost them. On a five-on-three power-play, Trail’s Jeremy Lucchini scored his first of the season on a seeing-eye shot from the blue-line that just got past a screen Robson 40-seconds after Jones’ goal to tie it 3-3.
That deadlock wasn’t broken until late in the game when Ryan Moon got a favourable bounce. The Trail forward fired a shot from the bottom of the left-circle that caught the top off of Robson’s glove and bounced in at 16:08. Not too long after that the Smokies added another one to go up by two.
Josh Laframboise reached out for the pass in the high slot and fired a wrist-shot that that appeared to have either hit a stick or skip in front of Robson, before it shot back up and over his shoulder on his glove-side with just over two-minutes left.
Howarth finished off the third period barrage when tucked in a rebound on another Smokies power-play with just 66-seconds left in the game.
Final Score: 6-3 Smoke Eaters
Shots: 49-29 Trail
Power-Plays: Vees 0-5 Trail 2-5
Three Stars: 1) Blaine Caton 2) Matt Gosiewski 3) Linden Marshall
Vees Notes: Saturday was the Vees sixth straight road loss, as they haven’t won away from the SOEC since November 22nd. Mendel’s first period goal was his first since December 2nd, 2015 against the Merritt Centennials. Tonight marks just the third time the Vees lost when leading after two periods this season (22-3-0-0). The Vees lead atop of the Interior Division has shrunk down to eight points, as the Vernon Vipers earned a 3-0 win at home Saturday against Nanaimo; the Vees still have two games in hand however.
Penticton (32-12-1-1) heads back out on the road Wednesday when they visit the Merritt Centennials at Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.