The Trail Smoke Eaters used special teams to stop the Vernon Vipers 6-3 in B.C. Hockey League play before 930 fans Wednesday night at Cominco Arena.
The Smokies scored once shorthanded and went 5-for-11 with the man advantage to move within a point of the Vipers, who hold down the fourth and final playoff berth in the Interior Division.
It was 3-3 after 40 minutes with forward Kyle Starr – obtained in a recent trade with the Surrey Eagles for Kurt Black – getting the winner at 4:25 of the third. Viper winger Charlie Michalowski was off for hooking.
Kienan Scott supplied his 16th and 17th goals of the year for the Smokies (16-18), while Jake Kauppila, Connor Brown-Maliski and Nick Halloran (his 16th) completed the offence in front of Bailey MacBurnie. Scott’s first snipe came shorthanded, 6:33 into the opening period.
Joe Sacco (6th), Odeen Tufto (15th) and Jimmy Lambert (10th) answered for the Vipers (15-19-0-3) in front of Andrew Shortridge. Trail outshot Vernon 36-33.
The highly physical tilt featured more than 50 minutes in penalties, most coming in the third period when Riley Brandt of the Vipers and Evan MacEachern of the Smokies tangled in the only fight of the night. Brandt, a former Smoke Eater, was assessed a major for a hit to the head seconds before the scrap.
Please see Friday’s Morning Star for more Viper coverage.