SALMON ARM, BC- I front of a sold out crowd at the Shaw Centre, forward Simon Tassy completed his hat trick 18:33 into the second period, and Owen Say stopped 20 of 22 to pace the Salmon Arm Silverbacks over the visiting Vernon Vipers 4-2 in the Backs Home Opener.
For the first time in 594 days, a meaningful hockey game was played at the Shaw Centre. It was the middle of the 2019-20 playoffs; the Silverbacks defeated the Victoria Grizzlies in game two of the first round and eventually swept the series. Then the season abruptly halted to a stop. Since then, a lot has changed, including a condensed 20-game schedule in a bubble, but now everything is slowly returning to normal.
In the opening frame, it was Simon Tassy sending the Silverbacks faithful into a frenzy when he banked a puck off Vipers goalie Roan Clarke to make it 1-0 Backs just 1:27 into the hockey game. The Vipers were quick to respond; four minutes later, after a Silverbacks failed clearing attempt, Vipers forward JoJo Tanaka-Campbell made them pay. He received a pass from Cam MacDonald and roofed it over the glove of Owen Say to deadlock the game at one apiece. There were no powerplays in the opening twenty minutes. The Vipers outshot the Backs 10-7.
In the second stanza, the Backs began to take over the game. Again it was Simon Tassy kickstarting the Silverbacks offence. After a spinning shot by Noah Serdachny, Tassy was the recipient of a fortunate bounce and jumped on the loose puck and ripped it past the blocker of Clarke to make it 2-1 Backs. But, Tassy wasn’t done there. Late in the second period, Tassy tracked a bouncing puck and swatted it over the glove of Clarke, completing his hat trick. Serdachny and Tassy combined for six points on the night. Why is that important? The duo combined for 17 points in the ten games head to head vs the Vipers last season.
In the final period of play with the Silverbacks leading by a pair, the Vipers got a chance to pull within one on the powerplay when Brandon Santa Juana went off for tripping. However, the Vipers were unable to convert. Midway through the period, Santa Juana ripped a shot past over the right shoulder of Clarke, giving the Backs a comfortable 4-1 advantage. The Vipers did manage to get one late goal off of the stick of Luke Buss, but that would be as close as they would get.
The Silverbacks improve to 2-0-0 on the campaign with the win, while the Vipers fall to 0-2-0. The two teams will meet tomorrow night again for a rematch. Puck drop is 6:00 PM. Catch the SASCU Pre-Game show at 5:45 on HockeyTV.