For the eighth time this season, the Trail Smoke Eaters won a hockey when trailing after 40 minutes. This time, they scored four unanswered goals in the third period to shade the error-prone Vipers 5-4 at the Wesbild Centre. In the process, the Vipers wasted TJ Dumonceaux's heroics.
Jesse Knowler started the improbable comeback with goals 20 seconds apart, starting at 1.38. He accepted Geoff Crisfield's gaffe in front of the Viper net and promptly punched the puck past Danny Todosychuk.
On the next shift, Knowler was again the grateful recipient of sloppy Viper play in their end. At that point, Jason Williamson called a time out to rally his shell shocked troops and they settled down to some extent.
However, at 9:31 Trail took advantage of a Viper turnover at centre ice to create a three on one rush. Affiliated player Diego Bartlett finished off the play by corralling a rebound and firing it over Todosychuk.
Bartlett then got the winner at 13:08 on the power play as his rocket went over Todosychuk's right shoulder. The Vernon goalie had very little chance on any of the goals as he was hung out to dry by his defence corps.
The 1536 fans in attendance were shocked by the upset in a game that looked like an easy Viper win after the second period. Sparked by energetic TJ Dumonceaux, the home team jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period. Going into the last 20 minutes, the Vipers led, 4-1.
During the game's first power play, Dumonceaux took the puck off the left boards, cut to the high slot, and fired a low shot that Adam Todd could only parry. Liam Board swept in the rebound on his backhand at 6:10.
On a similar play, Dumonceaux again came off the left boards, beat two Smokies as he cut to his right and beat Todd with a shot against the grain at 10:01. He completed his strong first period with a quick shot to the top corner at 17:46, while Trail's Djordje Leposavic cooled his heels in the sin bin.
Then, the Vipers started to take penalties, a habit that has led to many late period goals this season. With Mitch McAllister off for high sticking, Riley McDougall took advantage of lazy Viper checking at 19:03.
The Vipers survived three straight penalties in the second period with some determined penalty killing and, although they were outshot 15-6 in the middle frame, they scored the only goal when Marc Hetnik's long pass sprung Aaron Hadley on a partial breakaway and a pretty goal at 14:31.
That set the stage for Trail's impressive comeback that was ably abetted by a Viper team that essentially went to sleep in the third period.
Both teams were without their top two scorers in the game. Adam Tambellini, the subject of intense trade overtures, was kept out to prevent the possibility of injury, while Pearce Eviston awaits a trade at home. Trail's Brent Baltus and Garrett McMullen were out with injuries.