Prince George, BC – It was game four of the Interior Conference Quarter Finals at the Kopar Memorial Arena in Prince George as the Silverbacks looked to close out the series with a sweep over their rivals from the North. The Spruce Kings were hoping to find a way to claw themselves back into the series as they were searching for their first win of the post-season. Salmon Arm had outscored Prince George 14-6 through the opening three contests, including finding the back of the net eight times in the middle frame. The Silverbacks had to make their first lineup adjustment of the series as Isaac Lambert was suspended for two games which would force him to watch from the stands.
Matthew Tovell (3-0-0-0, 2.00 GAA, .932 S%, 0 SO) got the start once again for the silverbacks, while Jordan Fairlie (0-2-0-0, 4.01 GAA, .896 S%, 0 S0) returned to the net for the Spruce Kings.
Period number one kicked off in the fashion that was expected throughout the series as the physicality was a large factor in the early stages of the hockey game. Prince George looked to impose their will on Salmon Arm and gain some early momentum. The Silverbacks went against the flow of the early goings as they looked to open the scoring for the fourth straight game of the series. It was Mathieu Bourgault (1) taking the puck over the blue line before wiring one from the top of the face-off circle to beat Fairlie and give the ‘Backs a one goal lead. Prince George gained some momentum as the period progressed and were able to take advantage of that eight minutes after the ‘Backs opened the scoring. It was Evan Fedele (1) taking the puck through the neutral zone before starting a four on two rush for Prince George as he lifted the puck by Tovell to even things up. The Spruce Kings got the lone powerplay off the period as Nathan Mackie sat for a two minute high-sticking call, but the Silverbacks penalty kill were able to kill it off. Shots in the period were 9-9.
The middle frame was a much different pace to which we saw in the opening frame as the play was going back and forth with a fast pace. Both sides continued to play the the game on the physical side as they were looking to gain any advantage that they could grab. The first entries into the scoresheet did not come into the final five minutes of the period as Charlie Banquier went to the box for an interference call. The Silverbacks first man-advantage did not last long as Ethan Ullrick went to the box seven seconds into the powerplay as he went off for a two minute tripping call. Neither team was able to find the back of the night in the middle frame. Shots in the period were 9-8 in favour of the Spruce Kings.
The final frame in Prince George started off with a flurry of face-offs as both teams traded icing calls in the early stages of the period. Players on both sides were doing their best to stay mistake free as the game was looking as if it was going to come down to a next goal wins situation. The teams did their best to stay out of the box in the final frame as neither team took a penalty call in the final period which was the first time in the series that a full period went without a call. Both teams had their chances to get a late equalizer, as Hayden Stavroff and Ben LeFranc both hit the goalpost for their respective teams. The sixty minutes of regulation were not enough to solve the game between the two teams which meant overtime for the first time in the series. Shots after regulation were 29-26 in favour of Salmon Arm.
The first overtime period provided fans in Prince George with a tight checking affair as neither side was willing to give up much ice for the other team to work with. Neither team was able to get the winner in the first twenty of extra time as both Jordan Fairlie and Matthew Tovell continued to be difference makers in this hockey game. In the second overtime period it was CJ Foley (2) playing hero as his overtime winner propelled the Silverbacks to the sweep of the Prince George Spruce king
Photo by VICKI BROWN – Recap Courtesy of TONY TROZZO