Salmon Arm, BC – It was game three of the Interior Conference Finals as the Salmon Arm Silverbacks welcomed the Penticton Vees to the Shaw Centre for the first time in the series. The Vees grabbed the first two games of the series at the South Okanagan Events Centre with a combined score of 11-3 over the weekend. A win from Penticton would push Salmon Arm to the brink of elimination and put the Vees within one win of going to play for the Fred Page Cup. The Silverbacks were welcomed back to Salmon Arm with open arms as 1,408 fans filled the Shaw Centre to continue the amazing support that has been seen throughout the ‘Backs postseason push.
Matthew Tovell (8-2-1, 2.70 GAA, .909 S%, 0SO) got the start for the Silverbacks, while Luca Di Pasquo (10-0-0, 1.50 GAA, .939 S%, 1S0) got the start for the Vees.
It was the best start to a first period so far in the series as the ‘Backs were able to grab the earty momentum in the Jungle as they were showcasing their tenacious style of hockey that had been seen in the first two rounds of the playoffs. The Vees got the opening powerplay in the game as Ethan Ullrick went to the box for a two-minute cross-checking call near the midway point of the period. The ‘Backs were able to slow down the leagues top ranked man-advantage with big shot blocks and huge clearances. The Silverbacks had two chances of their own on the powerplay as Aydar Suniev and Callum Arnott each went to the box on two-minute minors but the Silverbacks were unable to get their first powerplay goal of the series. The two teams went to the box once again late in the period as Mathieu Bourgault and Frank Djurasevic sat in the box to give the game some open ice. Shots favoured Salmon Arm 17-10 in the opening period.
The middle frame was one for the books as it was a slew of goals and penalites which brought the fans in Salmon Arm to their feet. The teams combined for 14 penalty minutes in the period with each team having multiple powerplay opportunities. The opening goal of the contest came midway through the period as it was a high slot tip from Josh Nadeau (10) that was able to go over the shoulder of Tovell to get the Vees on board first. Salmon Arm changed the momentum as the period progressed. It was Maddux Martin (3) finishing off a drop pass from Jules Boilard as he made an immediate impact after being inserted into the lineup. The ‘Backs were able to showcase their powerplay that we saw in the first two rounds as the puck movement was shown when Ethan Ullrick (3) fired home a slap-shot one-timer over the shoulder of Di Pasquo to give Salmon Arm their first lead of the series. They would take a one goal lead into the final frame. Shots in the period were 20-8 in favour of Penticton.
Period number three provided an exciting display of hockey as the Silverbacks were clingining on to a one goal lead in the final frame. The play started off in the third with the Silverbacks getting four out of the first five shots in the period, but that was when Penticton turned up the pace as they got twelve of the last thirteen on either side. It was a penalty free period for the most part which was an unfimilar territory in the series. There was lots of neutral zone puck time between the two sides with the ensluaght of pressure from Penticton. The Vees went to the powerplay in the dying stages of the period as they looked to even things up with the extra attacker. It was Bradly Nadeau (15) slipping one by Tovell on the scramble play in front of the ‘Backs net as they were able to force overtime. Shots in the period were 13-5 in favour of Penticton.
The Vees came out in the overtiem period flying as they looked to get a quick winner. It was Thomas Pichette (5) batting home a rebound to give the Vees a 3-2 overtime win.
Next up for the Silverbacks will be game four of the Interior Confernce Finals as the ‘Backs will welcome Penticton to the Shaw Centre on Wednesday night.
Photo by CHRIS FOWLER – Recap Courtesy of TONY TROZZO