Zach Michaelis counted a four-point night in leading the Trail Smoke Eaters to a big 7-4 conference win over the Cranbrook Bucks on Wednesday at Western Financial Place in Cranbrook.
The Elk River, Minn. product scored twice, including the game winner, and assisted on two goals for his 19th point of the season. Michaelis finished a 2-on-1 break with Corey Cunningham with 5:14 left in the second period to give the Smoke Eaters a 5-2 lead.
The win is Trail’s third in four games versus Cranbrook and nudges them into fourth place in the Interior Conference with a 10-6-0-1 record, two points up on Cranbrook and one on the Prince George Spruce Kings.
Cunningham and Teddy Lagerback gave the Smoke Eaters a 2-0 lead at the end of one. Michaelis scored 91 seconds into the middle frame on a breakaway, before the Bucks replied and Tyson Dyck and Johnny Johnson made it 3-2.
Trail defenceman Chris Kobelka blasted a puck from inside the left circle for his first goal as a Smoke Eater midway through the second to make it 4-2.
After Michaelis’ goal, the Bucks fought back and with a two-man advantage, Bemidji State commit Noah Quinn beat Trail goalie Evan Fradette to cut the lead to two.
Dyck tallied his 11th of the season just 46 seconds into the third period to make it 5-4, but Trail added some insurance with Brady Hunter cutting through the slot and burying his shot over the glove of Evan Gartner at 5:03.
Defenceman Cam Moger put it out of reach with a wicked shot from the point with 2:46 to play, for the 7-4 win.
The Bucks outshot Trail 49 to 28, but Fradette was solid again in net for the Smoke Eaters, who also went 1-for-3 on the power play, and 3-for-4 on the PK.
Michaelis earned first star, Dyck from Cranbrook second star, and Cunningham, with a goal and two assists, the third star.
Trail next travels to Vernon to play the Vipers on Friday and will face the Centennials in Merritt on Saturday.