Tonight’s game could be the last for Salmon Arm this season.
Starting the series with a 5-3 win, the Silverbacks have lost three straight to the Vernon Vipers by scores of 2-1. Both teams had a win in Kal Tire Place, and then Vernon came to the Shaw Centre where they stole a pair. The Vipers now lead the playoff series 3-1 and will look to win the best of seven series on home ice.
Ethan Langenegger has been unreal for Salmon Arm in these playoffs. In his first BCHL playoffs, the rookie has stopped 143 shots on 152 shots for a 2.09 GAA and 0.941 SV%. through four games. On the offensive side of things, Salmon Arm has been shutdown by the Vipers. Scoring five goals in the first two periods of Game 1, they have now been held to three goals in the last ten (eleven counting two half periods of overtime).
One hope for Salmon Arm tonight, is the home record of Vernon. In the regular season, they had a Division low of just 12 wins in Kal Tire Place. This is where Salmon Arm was able to burst out offensively, and that magic needs to be rekindled. Defensively this series, Salmon Arm has been great allowing just two goals in the last three games (with two of those game needing OT) so the problem isn’t there.
Aidan Porter has bounced back for Vernon after getting the yank in Game 1 allowing five goals on 15 shots. The Vipers have done a good job in front of him allowing an average of just 27 shots against. Salmon Arm has been able to pour it on in the third period the last two games where the rookie goalie of the year has had to be sharp.
This season, Vernon once won four games in row outscoring teams 14-4 in a span from January 8th to January 18th where they beat Surrey, Salmon Arm, Powell River, and Trail. Salmon Arm had just one four game losing streak this season in their final four games losing to Wenatchee and Penticton twice.
Players to Watch:
Silverbacks: In the regular season, Andy Stevens had two goals to his name. Finding the back of the net on Wednesday in the Shaw Centre, the 20 year old defenceman now has two goals in four playoff games this year. Heading into these playoffs, the other 22 players on the roster had a combined 51 games of playoff experience; after four years with Powell River, Andy Stevens had 41. The alternate captain will need continue to draw from his experience to help Salmon Arm out of this series. The line of Wyatt Marlow, Tyson Gayfer, and Logan Shaw may have been the best Wednesday night for Salmon Arm. The group generated a few opportunities, but most importantly drew penalties in two straight second period shifts.
Vipers: He didn’t contribute point wise to the first six goals of the series, but Matt Kowalski has now had a direct hand in the last three for the Vernon Vipers. The leading scorer in the regular season for Vernon assisted on the game winner of Game 3, and then scored both goals for the Vipers in Game 4 powering them to the 3-1 series lead. Landon Fuller sparked the series for Vernon is Game 2 for his side, and the big defender continues to be an important piece on the backend for the Vipers making some key blocks.
Around the League:
Two other Interior series are in action with one other being a possible elimination game. In the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena, #2 seed Merritt looks to live another day as they are currently down 3-1 in their series to the Trail Smoke Eaters. Trail split the series in Merritt to start, and then won both games at home. Down in West Kelowna of a playoff 2-3-2 schedule, the Warriors play potentially their last home game of the playoffs against Wenatchee. The series is tied at 2-2, meaning Games 6 and possibly 7 will be played in the Town Toyota Center. Keeping their season alive with a win at home last night, the Chilliwack Chiefs aim to tie their series 3-3 with the Langley Rivermen after going down 3-0 in their series. With a win on home ice last night, Prince George awaits the winner of that series.
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