The Trail Smoke Eaters let a two-goal lead get away in the third period, but rebounded in overtime to top the Prince George Spruce Kings by a 6-5 score.
After a scoreless first period, the teams exchanged six goals in the second period by scoring three apiece. Sam Mellor and Nick Sandor -- with a pair -- netted for Trail while Zac Rasmussen, Brooks Robinson and Wes McLeod replied for the Spruce Kings.
Trail took a quick two-goal lead just 1:34 into the third, but Prince George bounced back with a pair to force overtime and set the stage for Mellor's winner.
Garrett Beckwith picked up the win for Trail with 36 saves, while Steve Papciak faced 54 shots in the loss.
The victory was Trail's third straight and fourth in their last five games.
The Spruce Kings now travel for a Saturday night meeting with the Vees, while the Smoke Eaters remain at home awaiting that same Penticton squad on Sunday.
Here's my interview with Sam Mellor after the game:Smokies Forward Sam Mellor
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...Tye Lewis missed the game for Trail last night with a minor lower body injury. It happened after his third goal on Thursday night against Quesnel. At first Lewis felt like he would be fine and ready to play against Prince George. Unfortunately the injury will instead keep him out of the line-up for a brief but yet undetermined amount of time. It's not a serious injury and should only require a couple of weeks off at most. Graeme Strukoff was also out of the line-up with his re-aggravated injury and Sean Nugent was suspended.
...Wade Bennett and Thomas Abenante took Nugent and Lewis' spots in the line-up. On the back end, Phillip Patenaude filled in as an affiliate player for the third time this seasons. He has an assist in each one of those games. Patenaude again didn't look out of place. However, he was surprisingly the only player in the entire game to take a penalty. His minor for tripping in the second period was the only penalty called by referee Grant Tyson. The Smoke Eaters and Spruce Kings both played a hard nosed and physical game. Tyson let them play that game without sticking his nose in to try and be a deciding factor. I thought it was one of the best performances I've seen from a ref in the BCHL. If you're going to let them play you have to be consistent. I felt he was.
...You see 11 goals and might think the goaltenders had an off night. In my view both Papciak and Beckwith played very strong games. The only goal that you could really fault either of them on was when Beckwith turned the puck over to start the second period. Otherwise they both made some huge stops to keep their team in it when the momentum was with their opponent.
...The way I described this game last night on the broadcast was a highly entertaining battle between two skilled, determined and in some ways flawed teams. They each made some key mistakes at key times. However, they also had the skill and heart to put those mistakes behind them and continue fighting hard for the two points. Prince George had a let down in allowing Trail to jump out to a 5-3 lead early in the third, but they battled back and forced overtime. The Smoke Eaters had a let down in allowing the Spruce Kings to come back from the 5-3 deficits, but they kept fighting and found a way to win the game in overtime. It was a highly entertaining game and I'm sorry that their season series is already over. 3 of the 4 games between the Smokies and Spruce Kings were among the most entertaining games this year.
...For the first time this season Trail has won three straight games and four of their last five. Their scoring has certainly been the key to those victories. They've scored 23 goals in their last 3 games and 31 in their last 5. That's an average just over 6 goals a game. Mike Betz had 14 points over that 5 game span and 11 in his last 3. Nick Sandor also has 11 points over the last 3 games while Scott Jacklin has 9. That's some ridiculous production. In doing that the Smoke Eaters have moved themselves to within 1 point of Quesnel and 3 points of Prince George in the Interior Conference standings.
...After a run of games against the northern teams the Smokies will now have to prove themselves against the Okanagan clubs over the next couple of weeks. They've got Penticton, Salmon Arm, Vernon and Westside over the next four games. With three of them at home it is a real opportunity for the Smoke Eaters to prove they have made some big strides by being competitive with the league's top teams.