Vernon, BC: There weren’t many shots and their weren’t many goals, until the 3rd period where the Trail Smoke Eaters converted 3 times including an empty netter to defeat the Vernon Vipers 3-1 in Game 1 of the best of 7 series.
It was a bit of a feeling out process in the first period, with both teams having been off for 6 full days. The Smokies used their powerplay to generate some offensive zone time and had the puck in the Vipers zone for a full 90 seconds, but the PK cleared and killed off the first attempt. Shortly after it was the Vipers turn on the man advantage, but couldn’t get the lead. A crucial part of the period came on an extended 5 on 3 for Trail, but the PK again stood tall. The Vipers had trouble getting shots through in the frame as they either missed the net or were blocked as Donovan Buskey had to stop just 4 shots in a scoreless first.
More of the same defensive hockey in the second period. Trail again had the shot advantage as they put pucks on goal from everywhere. Aidan Porter was fantastic in the frame making a big shoulder save, before a big pad save through a ton of traffic. Owen Ozar clanked the iron to keep it scoreless. Teddy Wooding had a pair of good chances as he was stopped on a breakaway then deflected a shot just off the outside of the net.
In the third, the Vipers jumped on a shoot in as Ben Sanderson caused a turnover and slipped a puck through the legs of Donovan Buskey to make it 1-0. The lead was short lived as Braeden Tuck was set up in the left circled and snapped it home to make it 1-1. Trail would add to their lead as Mack Byers set up Spencer McLean in front of the net to make it 2-1. The Vipers outshot the Smokies 9-3 in the third, but Carver Watson clanked a goal post and Buskey made a pad save from a point shot. The Vipers had a great shot late in regulation as Teddy Wooding was sprung on a breakaway. He was hauled down and awarded a penalty shot. The chance would be denied as Buskey threw out the left pad to keep it 2-1. The Smokies would seal it into an empty net moments later to take game 1 by a 3-1 score.
Unofficial scoring summary
VER – Ben Sanderson (2) – Landon Fuller (1), Elan Bar-Lev Wise (1) – 2:21
TRA – Braeden Tuck (3) – Max Kryski (2), Chase Stevenson (4) – 3:37
TRA – Spencer McLean (2) – Mack Byers (3), Tyler Ghirardosi (6) – 5:49
TRA – Carter Jones (2) – Braeden Tuck (2) – 18:55 (EN)
These two teams will play Game 2 Saturday night at Kal Tire Place.