The Trail Smoke Eaters used a Kent Johnson hat-trick and five power play goals to help them to an 8-4 victory over the West Kelowna Warriors on Saturday night at Royal LePage Place.
The Warriors started the game with the lead just 1:47 into the contest with Willie Reim getting a centering pass from behind the goal and chipped the puck over the glove shoulder of Smoke Eaters goaltender Adam Marcoux to take a 1-0 lead.
The Smoke Eaters found their legs after that and picked up the pace, tying the game with a power play goal at the 14:35 mark of the frame as Tyler Ghirardosi collected his 7th goal of the season. Carter Jones started the play with a pass from the corner for Hayden Rowan in front, who snapped it to the glove side of Warriors netminder Brock Baier to Ghirardosi for goals in back-to-back games and a 1-1 tie.
Just over a minute later, the puck was bobbled at the blue line by a Warrior defender as Chase Stevenson sped onto the puck and raced in on a breakaway, going through the legs of Baier for his 16th goal of the season that gave the Smoke Eaters their first lead of the night at the 15:42 mark to make it a 2-1 game.
Trail added to that advantage at the 3:37 mark with a highlight reel goal coming off of the stick of Kent Johnson, who had an electric night. Johnson gathered the puck in the neutral zone, moving through the Warriors defence on the left wing and cut to the net before finishing off the play on the glove side with a backhand shot for his 13th goal of the season and the second power play marker gave Trail a 3-1 lead.
West Kelowna got the game within a goal on the power play at the 7:57 mark of the 2nd frame on an Anthony Bishop shot before Trevor Zins doubled the lead once more for the Smoke Eaters. Zins got the puck at the right point and threw a shot through traffic that beat Baier for his 9th goal of the season for a 4-2 lead at the 10:18 mark.
Brandon Dent again helped the Warriors to get within a goal at the 12:35 mark before Johnson buried his second of the game to give Trail a 5-3 lead. Johnson was hauled down going to the net off a face-off and was rewarded a penalty shot. The 16-year-old moved in and went from his forehand to his backhand before finishing under the blocker of Baier for another highlight reel goal to extend the lead to two goals at the 16:16 mark.
The Port Moody, BC native capped off the hat trick at the 3:46 mark of the 3rd period as he moved in on the left wing and snapped a wrist shot by the blocker side of Baier for his third goal of the game to make it a 6-3 lead for the Smoke Eaters.
Bennett Norlin snuck in a power play marker at the 9:25 mark of the final period before Zins added his second goal of the game and 10th of the season on another power play goal. Zins let a shot go from the right point that deflected off a stick and off the face of a Warrior defender and into the back of the net to give Trail a 7-4 advantage at the 14:32 mark of the period.
The Smoke Eaters closed the night of scoring with Hayden Rowan burying his 12th goal of the season the power play, Trail’s fifth goal on the man advantage of the night. Zins had his point shot stopped but Rowan cleaned up the loose change in front of the goal and gave the Smoke Eaters their eighth goal of the night, their largest goal total of the season.
Adam Marcoux turned aside 26 of the 30 shots he faced on the night in his 14th victory of the season while Brock Baier stopped 26 of the 34 shots he saw in the game in his 5th loss of the year.
FINAL SCORE: 8-4 Smoke Eaters
SHOTS ON GOAL: 34-30 Smoke Eaters
SMOKE EATERS PP: 5/6
SMOKE EATERS PK: 3/5
1) Kent Johnson (2-2-4)
2) Anthony Bishop (1-1-2)
3) Trevor Zins (2-3-5)
Fortis Energy Player of the Game: Bennett Norlin (1-1-2)
The Smoke Eaters (16-19-5-3) open up a weekend on home ice and look to keep their winning ways in 2019 in tact as they host the Nanaimo Clippers (20-18-0-0) on Friday night at the Trail Memorial Centre. Tickets are available for purchase at the Smoke Eaters Main Office as well as at the door ahead of the 7 p.m. face-off.