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GAME ONE: Vipers erase three goal deficit, take down Silverbacks in overtime

Salmon Arm, BC – Round two of the 2022/23 BCHL Post-Season kicked off tonight with a huge game one rivalry between the Salmon Arm Silverbacks and the Vernon Vipers. The two teams were coming off round one victories that were captured in different manners. Salmon Arm was coming off a 4-0 sweep of the Prince George Spruce Kings in which the deciding game saw the ‘Backs conquer the Space Kings in double-overtime. The Vipers were coming into the game winners of three in a row with a combined scored of 11-2 as they took down the West Kelowna Warriors in six games. The Silverbacks and Vipers met seven times in the regular season with Vipers edging the Silverbacks four to three.

Matthew Tovell (4-0-0-0, 1.53 GAA, .945 S%, 0 S0) got the start for the silverbacks, while Ethan David (4-0-0-0, 1.29 GAA, .949 S%, 2SO) got the nod for the Vipers.

The opening period was a fast paced physical period as both sides were looking to continue the momentum that they earned from their opening round victories. The Silverbacks came out strong in front of their own fans as they opened up with the first eight shots on goal, but Ethan David looked sharp in the early goings. The Silverbacks went to the first powerplay of the series as they took the second ranked speciality teams unit to the ice for the first time in the game. Owen Beckner was able to ring one of the crossbar on the powerplay but that was as close as they got to getting the opening goal with the extra man. Late in the period it was the Shaw Centre coming to life as the Captain, Nathan Mackie (3) received a pass on a two-on-one with Ryan Gillespie before he was able to lift one into the back of the net to give the Silverbacks the first lead of the series. Shots in the period were 14-6 in favour of Salmon Arm.

The middle frame started off in a different fashion to the opening period as a much different pace was seen. Opposite to the first frame, there was plenty of stoppages in the early stages of the period which seemed to slow down the flow. Matthew Tovell made a couple big saves in the first half of the period including a weird ricochet that he had to be sharp on to keep the Vipers off the board. Vernon got themselves into some penalty trouble once again midway through the period as Thomas Tien went to the box for a tripping call. On the ensuing powerplay it was Brandon Santa Juana (2) jamming home the loose puck after the set play saw Nathan Mackie carry the puck towards the front of the net. The goal from Santa Juana doubled up the ‘Backs lead midway through the period. Shots in the second period were 8-5 in favour of the Silverbacks.

The final frame of regulation was one for the books for the Vipers as they turned the momentum on the Silverbacks. Salmon Arm was able to get the scoring started in the third as Ryan Gillespie (1) was able to tap home the rebound behind David to extend the Silverbacks lead to three goals. That was the starting point of change in momentum for Vernon. Just 90 seconds after the third ‘Backs goal it was Anthony Cliche (1) firing a shot home from the blue line to get the Vipers on the board. They were not done there as Walker Erickson (1) went on an individual mission of his own as he carried the puck into the Silverbacks end before potting one by Tovell to pull Vernon within one goal. The game seemed poised to go to extra time as the Vipers continued to apply pressure. Vernon pulled the goalie for the extra attacker with just under 80 seconds remaining and were able to take advantage of the extra man. Isaac Tremblay (1) was the third Viper to get his first of the postseason as he knotted things up at three a piece and force overtime. Shots in the final period of regulation were 19-9 in favour of Vernon.

As the overtime period started it looked as if the Silverbacks were on the verge of taking it in the extra frame but Ethan David had other ideas. Just over four minutes into overtime it was Isaac Tremblay (2) doubling up his tally on the night as he was able to beat Tovell with a yawning cage in front of him to propel to the Vipers to the overtime victory.

Next up for the Silverbacks will be game two of the Interior Conference Semifinals right here at the Shaw Centre. Puck drops tomorrow night at 7:00PM and all kids 15 and under will get in free thanks to our friends at Lawson Engineering Ltd.

Photo by CHRIS FOWLER – Recap Courtesy of TONY TROZZO