The Trail Smoke Eaters got timely scoring and stellar goaltending for a big victory over the Penticton Vees to launch “World Championship Weekend”.
Braden Costello and BCHL scoring leader Hunter Johnson each scored twice and Logan Terness made 43 saves as the Smokies held off the Vees 4-3 in front of 1,988 fans Friday in Trail.
The top two teams in the Interior Division will do battle again Saturday at 6 p.m. at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
David Silye, Danny Weight and Liam Malmquist replied for the Vees (31-11-1-1), who had a four-game winning streak snapped. Trail (26-13-2-2) pulled within eight points of the Vees with one game in hand.
Yaniv Perets made 23 saves for the Vees in the first of two games paying homage to the Penticton and Trail world hockey championship teams of 1955 and 1961, respectively.
The Vees carried the play the first period, outshooting the Smokies 15-6, but Terness was terrific to keep the game scoreless.
Trail pounced for two goals early in the second period as Costello clicked at 3:26 and Johnson became the first BCHL player to reach 30 goals just 45 seconds later.
The Vees quickly got back within one as Silye made it four straight games with a goal from Jack Barnes and Nico Somerville at 6:55.
Weight knocked home a rebound of a long shot by Malmquist to tie the game 2-2 at 15:22. Carson Kosobud also assisted.
Costello put Trail back on top to stay 3:06 into the third. Terness was outstanding after that as the Vees pushed hard for the tying goal.
The Vees got Perets to the bench for an extra attacker with 2:32 to go but Johnson got his second into the empty net 27 seconds later.
Penticton didn’t quit though and after Perets again raced to the bench, Malmquist cut the deficit to 4-3 with 1:03 remaining.
Vees scoring leader Jay O’Brien missed his 11th straight game due to injury.
The Vees made one move before Friday’s trade deadline acquiring 17-year-old defenceman Carson Hemenway from Alberni Valley Bulldogs for future considerations. Hemenway is expected to join the Vees in time for tonight’s game.
Warriors 5 Centennials 3: West Kelowna exploded for three goals in a 47-second span in the first period and went on for a huge victory in Merritt to start a home-and-home series.
John Evans, Nicolas Ardanaz, Ryan Novecosky, Deegan Mofford and Carter Wilkie scored for the Warriors (8-25-5-2), who edged within one point of Merritt (10-27-1-3) for the BCHL’s final playoff spot.
Thomas Manty, Rylan Van Unen and Payton Matsui scored for Merritt, who trailed 4-2 and 5-2 at the period breaks.
The teams meet again in another crucial game Saturday at 6 p.m. at Royal LePage Place in West Kelowna. The Warriors also host the Alberni Valley Bulldogs Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
The Vernon Vipers, idle on Friday, host Alberni Valley Saturday at 6 p.m. and visit Salmon Arm Silverbacks Sunday at 3 p.m.
Vernon made a deal with West Kelowna at Friday’s 4 p.m. roster deadline, acquiring the Warriors leading goalscorer Max Bulawka in exchange for forward Elan Bar lev Wise and future considerations.