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A fantastic end to end start to the hockey game, with the Smoke Eaters having a good initial push in the opening minute, but the Dogs pushed back and had the edge in play leading to a power play chance. While they failed to score on it, they earned momentum, and kept it over the ensuing minutes in running up a 6-3 edge in shots but being unable to beat Zach Dyment in the Smokies net. The Smoke Eaters would counter, and get on the board to lead 1-0 as Josh LaFramboise spun at the top of the left circle and threw a hard pass off the top of the crease at the back post where Luke Santerno deflected it up and under the crossbar. Mitchell Barker also drew a helper on the play at 10:23 of the first. The Smoke Eaters earned their first power play of the game soon afterwards, but the Bulldogs came up with a solid kill. That would prove vital as they tied the game at the conclusion of the penalty as Kyle Kaufmann exited the penalty box and took a stretch pass behind the Smokies defence to skate in alone. He would put a perfect snap shot top corner, over the glove of Dyment to make it 1-1 at 15:40 of the first with Ryan Steele drawing the lone assist. Shots in the period favoured Trail 11-9.
The Dogs were sent to the penalty box in the first minute and change of the second, on what I thought was a great hit by Keith Anderson. After a good couple of saves by Claeys, most notably on a streaking Kale Howarth, the puck was cleared all the way down. Zach Dyment would misplay it due to a hustling Cayden Kraus, who found it at the side of the net and tucked it in for the shorthanded marker, un-assisted, to make it 2-1 Dogs at 2:30 of the second. Later in the period the Dogs were penalized again, at the end of a sequence where it looked like they couldve earned no less than three calls. Less than a minute later, it was a 5 on 3 for Trail as the Dogs were penalized yet again less than a minute later. The Dogs protected their lead with a huge penalty kill, down two men for 1:09 in duration, with Brody Claeys making a couple solid stops and the killers doing a great job to win battles and clear pucks. The Dogs would have two great chances to build their lead in the back half of the period, with both Keith Anderson and Malik Kaila getting breakaway chances. Anderson's bid would hit the crossbar and stay out, while Dyment made a solid blocker save on Kaila. With less than four minutes to play in the second, Jordan Sandhu made a desperate play to dive and tie up a Smokies stick on what looked like a wide open net to protect the lead. Shots were 13-9 Trail, for a two-period total in their favour of 24-18.
The Bulldogs didn't lose any of the jump to their step to start the third, and continued to push and were rewarded for it as they built their lead on a gorgeous play on the rush with Trevor Cosgrove working a give-and-go down the right wing for Tristan Bukovec, who took the return pass at the bottom of the right circle before throwing it to the top of the crease for Keith Anderson, who pulled it across Dyment before hammering it inside the far post for his first as a Bulldog to make it 3-1 at 4:46 of the third. The Dogs would complete the scoring four minutes later, on a smart play by Cole Slaney as he used his feet to carry it all the way to Smokies line up the left wing where he chipped it in deep past a defender for a racing Tristan Bukovec to skate onto. He would wheel below the goal line and snap a pass up the middle before going behind the net. It would be found in the deep slot by Jordan Sandhu, who blew a slap shot long-side inside the post and past the blocker of Dyment to make it 4-1 at 9:33 of the third to complete the scoring. The Bulldogs were close to air tight throughout the remainder of the third to protect their lead.
Third period shots favoured the Bulldogs 13-10, for a game total of 34-31 Smoke Eaters. Brody Claeys was named 1st star while picking up the win, while Zach Dyment took the loss. The Dogs went 0 for 2 on the power play while the Smoke Eaters went 0 for 4.