Things just got a little tighter atop the B.C. Hockey League’s Interior Division standings.
Phillippe Lapointe and BCHL scoring leader Kent Johnson each scored twice and Logan Terness was sensational with 41 saves as the Trail Smoke Eaters beat the Penticton Vees 4-1 in front of 3,202 fans Wednesday at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
The Smoke Eaters (14-6-2-1) have now won 14 of their last 17 games and edged within two points of the Vees and Salmon Arm Silverbacks, who are tied for first with identical 16-4-1 records.
Lukas Sillinger scored for the Vees, who saw their five-game winning streak come to an end.
Yaniv Perets made 25 saves – many of the acrobatic variety - for the Vees, who lost for the first time in four meetings with the Smoke Eaters this season.
The Vees had the better of the chances in the first period but Trail got the only goal. Johnson netted his league-leading 16th on a nice cross-ice pass from Tyler Ghirardosi at 15:04.
Perets made one terrific save on a rare two-on-zero break late in the period, but couldn’t quite do it again as Lapointe and Owen Ozar got in alone on the Vees goalkeeper early in the second, with Lapointe connecting to make it 2-0 at 2:49.
Perets was splendid to keep it a 2-0 game with Trail enjoying three of the four power plays in the period and outshooting Penticton 16-12.
The Vees came out meaning business in the third and ended up outshooting Trail 22-9. Jay O’Brien did a great job to tee up Steve Holtz from the left point and his hard blast was deflected home by Sillinger to make it a 2-1 game just 3:06 in.
The Vees got a bad break when they were assessed a marginal too-many-men penalty with 5:37 left and Johnson notched his second on a screened shot on the ensuing power play to make it 3-1 with 4:16 left.
Penticton got on a power play of their own 30 seconds later and promptly pulled Perets for an extra attacker to make it a 6-on-4.
Terness made some big stops to preserve the two-goal lead, then the Smokies put the icing on the cake with an empty-net goal by Lapointe with 1:15 to play.
Terness, Johnson and Perets were the three stars.
Johnson has 42 points in 23 games, while Lapointe has scored six goals and 12 points in only six games.
The Vees are back on the road to play two games against the Wenatchee Wild on Friday and Saturday. Both are 7:05 p.m. puck-drops south of the border.