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Smokies burn Salmon Arm Silverbacks

Trail scores 7-5 B.C. Hockey League win at Shaw Centre Saturday; playoffs start this week
Salmon Arm Silverbacks goalie Liam Vanderkooi made 22 saves Saturday, March 26, as the team fell 7-5 at the Shaw Centre to the Trail Smoke Eaters in the BCHL regular-season finale for both teams. (Chris Fowler Photo)



Quinn Disher scored his second of the night just past the midway point of the third period, as the Trail Smoke Eaters went on to defeat the Salmon Arm Silverbacks 7-5 in both teams’ B.C. Hockey League regular-season finale.

The Silverbacks got off to a great start as they opened the scoring on the powerplay 1:55 into the game. Smoke Eaters forward Coalson Wolford went off for interference, and on the ensuing powerplay, Mat Bourgault was able to jam it home on the doorstep past goaltender Cole Tisdale for a 1-0 lead.

The advantage didn’t last long, as Zach Michaelis answered moments later as his shot went off a body and past Salmon Arm netminder Liam Vanderkooi to tie the game at one.

The Smoke Eaters got a chance on the powerplay when Nathan Mackie went off for boarding. However, Trail could not cash in on their man advantage. The road side took the lead just before the midway point of the opening frame as Connor Michaud snapped it glove side on Vanderkooi.

But the Silverbacks tied the game moments later as Mackie forced a turnover and was able to snap a shot under the arm of Tisdale to tie the game at two.

Just over two minutes later, the Smoke Eaters again took the lead as Disher beat Vanderkooi, giving the road side a 3-2 lead. The Silverbacks outshot the Smoke Eaters 13-9 in the opening frame.

The middle frame was wild, to say the least; it consisted of five goals, three from the home side.

A minute into the second period Bourgault got the gate for high-sticking, giving the Smoke Eaters their second powerplay. They were unable to convert.

The Silverbacks went to the man advantage moments later as Ridge Dawson went off for tripping. They were taken off the powerplay when Vanderkooi was called for tripping behind the net, meaning 4-on-4 hockey. The Smoke Eaters took advantage of the extra space, and Michaud slid his second of the night past Vanderkooi to give Trail a 4-2 lead.

The Silverbacks stormed back as they cashed in on yet another powerplay. It was Bourgault again putting a puck in as it just crossed the goal line.

Salmon Arm would strike again 69 seconds later as Noah Serdachny ripped a shot off the pad of Tisdale, it went right on the tape of Isaac Lambert, and he made no mistake potting home his 10th of the year to tie the game at four.

Then, just 22 seconds after that, it was Serdachny again getting in on the scoring as he wristed a shot blocker side for his 27th of the year, giving the Silverbacks a 5-4 lead.

Again, that lead didn’t last very long, as just 30 seconds after that, Ethan Warrener tied the game, slipping his second of the year past Vanderkooi. In the middle frame, the Silverbacks outshot the Smoke Eaters 14-6 and held a 29-18 advantage through two periods.

The Smoke Eaters took the lead for good on the powerplay in the third period. Charlie Strobel skated the puck around the net and made a cross-crease pass to Disher, and he beat Vanderkooi blocker side to give the Smoke Eaters a 6-5 lead. Late in the third, Bourgault was assessed a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct for checking from behind, putting the Silverbacks shorthanded for an eighth time.

Salmon Arm pulled the goalie to go 5-on-5 but could not solve Tisdale. The Smoke Eaters would add an empty netter from Teddy Lagerback with one second left to make it 7-5.

Tisdale finished with 39 saves to pick up the win while Vanderkooi made 22 stops for Salmon Arm.

The league’s regular season finishes Sunday in Penticton with the Vees hosting Merritt. The Centennials have lost 12 in a row.

Merritt and the Powell River Kings are the two teams who did not make the post-season.

The Silverbacks close out the regular season with a 36-12-6 record and will now shift their focus to the Wenatchee Wild for the first round of the Shaw BCHL Playoffs. Game 1 is at the Shaw Centre next Saturday, April 2, at 7 p.m.

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