Trail’s Corey Cunningham beats the Cranbrook goalie but cannot find the back of the net. Photos: Jim Bailey

Trail’s Corey Cunningham beats the Cranbrook goalie but cannot find the back of the net. Photos: Jim Bailey

Cranbrook Bucks battle back for win over Trail Smoke Eaters

Cranbrook forward Johnny Johnson’s third period goal gave the Bucks a 4-3 victory

Cranbrook celebrated their fourth straight win over the Trail Smoke Eaters on New Years Day with a third period come-from-behind victory.

Bucks forward Johnny Johnson scored the game winner on a power play goal with 8:31 to play, redirecting a shot past Smoke Eaters goalie Evan Fradette for the 4-3 win at the Trail Memorial Centre.

The Bucks are on a six-game winning streak after defeating the Smoke Eaters 4-0 in the front end of a home-and-home on Friday, Dec. 31.

With the two weekend victories, Cranbrook improves to 15-10-2-0, while Trail falls to .500 with a 12-12-1-0 record, good for sixth in the Interior Conference.

Trail came out determined in the first, scoring just 1:50 into the period, when Teddy Lagerback too a pass from Coalson Wolford and backhanded a shot past Bucks goalie Evan Gartner.

Smoke Eaters forward Brady Hunter tries to tip the puck past Cranbrook goalie Evan Gartner. Photo: Jim Bailey

Smoke Eaters forward Brady Hunter tries to tip the puck past Cranbrook goalie Evan Gartner. Photo: Jim Bailey

Cranbrook replied 65 seconds later on tip-in from Hayden Gelbard, but Charlie Strobel put Trail back up at 17:22 shoveling in a cross-crease pass from Connor Michaud for a 2-1 lead.

Following the goal, the Smoke Eaters were given a bench minor after coach Tim Fragle persisted on questioning a non-call.

Cranbrook capitalized as Bemidji State commit and Nelson native Noah Quinn tied it with 1:50 left in the opening frame.

However, the Smoke Eaters replied on their own power play when Wolford sniped a shot from the high slot to go up 3-2 heading into period two.

The back and forth match up continued into the second, but both Fradette and Gartner made several key saves to keep it a one-goal game.

Bucks defencemen clears out the Smoke Eaters forward.

Bucks defencemen clears out the Smoke Eaters forward.

The Smoke Eaters had a golden opportunity to take a two-goal lead when Luke Pfoh was sent off for a four-minute high sticking penalty 1:44 into the final frame. But Cranbrook’s leading scorer Tyson Dyck forced a turnover in the Smokies end, and set up Quinn who wired it top shelf, tying it at three with the shorthanded marker.

After Johnson put the Cranbrook up 4-3, the Bucks team defence tightened up, and the Smoke Eaters could not find the equalizer.

Each goalie faced 36 shots, and Trail went 1-for-7 on the power play, while the Bucks were 2-for-3.

Trail looks to break out of their five game slide, when they host the Prince George Spruce Kings on Wednesday, Jan. 5 at the Cominco Arena with the puck drop at 7 p.m.

Read: Smoke Eaters coach reflects on first half



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