Salmon Arm, B.C. — It was an inconsistent effort from the Salmon Arm Silverbacks that resulted in a 5-3 loss to the Vernon Vipers on Sunday afternoon at the Shaw Centre.
After averaging 42.7 shots on goal per game over their last six games, they only managed 22 in this one and let a 2-0 lead slip away.
Salmon Arm’s record now stands at 22-18-2, tied with Wenatchee for fourth place in the Interior Division at 46 points apiece. The Silverbacks technically sit in fourth because they have a game in hand on the Wild. The Vernon Vipers now have 48 points and sit in third place.
The first period didn’t have a ton of chances, but it did produce the game’s first goal, courtesy of Drew Bennett. With 1:53 to go in the period, Bennett potted home his seventh of the season from in tight after Nick Martino shovelled it across to him.
Each team went 0-for-1 in the first period on the power play, with the Backs out-shooting Vernon 9-5 and taking that 1-0 lead into the break.
The Vipers came out much better in the second period of play, putting on some early pressure, but Grant Adams made two big stops to keep the Backs up 1-0. At the 3:59 mark of the second, Bennett delivered yet again, sniping over the glove of Reilly Herbst to increase the lead to two.
Immediately after Bennett’s second of the game, the Backs went on a power play, but Vernon was the team to take advantage of the situation, with Dawson Holt stealing a puck and converting on a shorthanded breakaway to cut the lead to 2-1. It was his fourth shorthanded goal of the season and 17th overall.
With 4:53 to go in the frame, the Vipers tied things up thanks to new addition Max Bulawka, whose redirection was stopped by Adams but then bounced off of him and into the net.
Right before the period was out, the Vipers took their first lead of the afternoon on a power play thanks to Jo-Jo Tanaka-Campbell’s fourth of the season.
The Backs entered the second intermission trailing the game 3-2 on the scoreboard and 17-14 in the shots department.
Under six minutes into the third period, Matt Kowalski ripped a shot towards the net that was directed past Adams by Ben Helgeson, a goal that gave the visitors a 4-2 lead. Salmon Arm responded quickly thanks to a deflection goal from Daniel Rybarik just 1:18 later to make the game 4-3.
Four minutes later, the Vipers made the best of a 4-on-2 odd-man rush, as defenceman Christian Felton notched his fourth goal of the season right from the slot to make it a 5-3 game, which stood up as the final score.
Bennett, Wolford, Martino line — Salmon Arm Silverbacks: This newly formed line was the best for the Backs on the afternoon, not only providing two of the three goals, but being solid defensively.
Asst. coach Carter Cochrane on that trio, the team’s best line Sunday: “They brought it every shift for us tonight. They were hard — especially 5-on-5, they were physical, finishing checks. They did the little things they needed to do and they got rewarded for it.”
Sam Schofield — Salmon Arm Silverbacks: Sam Schofield (5-foot-6, 150 lbs.) fought Colby Feist (6-foot-1, 185 lbs.) in the second period and despite giving up more than half a foot of height and 35 lbs., Schofield knocked Feist’s helmet off and got in a few good lefts.
Cochrane on Schofield dropping the mitts: “He punches above his weight every single night and he did that literally today. It’s a disappointing thing when something like that can’t spark our team. He’s a guy who is a heart and soul guy. We know that he’d do anything to help the team win — he did that tonight. You really think that’s something that is going to spark the group so it’s something we’ve got to look into the mirror about.”
Dawson Holt — Vernon Vipers: Holt scored his fourth shorthanded goal of the season and also assisted on Bulawka’s game-tying goal in the second period. He’s now up to 17 goals in just 31 games this season.
For the full boxscore, click here.
STAT OF THE GAME
1 SHG, 1 PPG Surrendered: Despite an effort that left something to be desired, the ultimate difference in the game was special teams, as the Vipers struck once on the penalty kill and once on the power play.
“We lost the special teams battle tonight too — giving up a shorty, giving up a power play goal. That’s the difference right there. 5-on-5 we do feel like we can play with anyone. We showed that tonight, we just didn’t show it enough.”
THEY SAID IT
Cochrane on the importance of forward depth:
“We just never felt like we were rolling all four lines over, especially in the second and third period. It’s extremely difficult to win a game like that. One of the things we touched on pre-game was making sure that we had all four lines. I think at times each line was playing well but we just never really got it going together. Really tough to win a game like this against a team this good, especially at this time of the year.”
The Silverbacks host the Prince George Spruce Kings (14-23-5) in their final game of the homestand on Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
The game can be heard on 91.5 EZ Rock with the pre-game show starting at 6:30 p.m. Fans can also stream the game on HockeyTV.