Salmon Arm, BC – It was the seventh and final regular season on the season between the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (25-17-4-2) and the Vernon Vipers (23-20-2-4). The two teams had split the first six at three games a piece, but had not seen each other since January 6th. They had combined for 36 goals over the first six games and were looking to continue the intense pace that had been seen in the opening games. The Silverbacks were coming off a 4-3 shootout loss on Saturday night to the Cranbrook Bucks, while the Vipers took down the Prince George Spruce Kings 3-0 on Saturday night.
Matthew Tovell (21-14-3-0, 2.50 GAA, .924 S%, 4SO) getting the start for the Silverbacks, while Ethan David (10-9-1-2, 2.93 GAA, .909 S%, 1SO) getting the start for the Vipers.
The crowd in Vernon was treated to a terrific first period of play as both teams came out of the gate flying. The Vipers were able to jump out to an early lead as Reagan Milburn (16) opened the scoring just over three and a half minutes into the period with a wrist shot that went just under the glove of Matthew Tovell. Just under 90 seconds later it was Lee Parks (21) firing home the Vipers second of the game. He received a pass in the high slot from Hank Cleaves before he ripped one high and over the shoulder of Tovell. The Silverbacks fought back quickly to get into the game, and it quickly payed dividends. Ryan Gillespie (8) was the recipient of a slick feed from Tristan Allen in the low slot, as he tapped home into the yawning Vipers cage to cut Vernon’s lead in half. Lynden Hanvold went to the box shortly after the ‘Backs goal, but they were able to kill it off in big part thanks to three marvellous saves from Tovell. Shots in the opening frame were 13-11 in favour of Vernon.
The second period of play came with a different sort of intensity to which we saw in the first period of play. The physicality ramped up in the middle frame as the rivalry between the two squads started to become more prominent. Salmon Arm had no man-advantages in the first period, but were treated to three straight powerplay chances in the second. Anthony Cliche and Isaac Tremblay both took minor calls, while the Vipers also took a bench minor for too many men on the ice. Vernon was able to showcase one of the leagues best shorthanded units as they killed off all three penalties. Shortly after the final kill, Julian Facchinelli (9) stepped out of the box to a perfect pass from Connor Elliott to spring him on a breakaway before he made a slick move to the forehand and slid one by Tovell. Shots in the second were 11-6 in favour of the Vipers.
Salmon Arm came into the final frame trailing by a pair of goals and looked to pounce early and often to get themselves back into the contest. The period started off well for the ‘Backs as they controlled the majority of possession in the first half, but it was the Ethan David show in the early goings as he made multiple big saves to keep the Vipers head. Shortly after the midway point of the third, it was Isaac Lambert (15) jamming one by David to pull the Silverbacks within one. Just 11 seconds after the goal, the ‘Backs went to the penalty kill as Liam Steele went to the box. The Vipers made quick work of their man advantage as they worked the puck around the zone before finding Luke Pakulak (13) in the high slot where he was able to slide one by Tovell. Vernon added an empty netter late off of the stick from Walker Erickson (16) which sealed the deal for the Vipers.
Next up for the Silverbacks will be Saturday night at the Shaw Centre as the ‘Backs welcome the Wenatchee Wild into town. All kids 15 and under will get in free thanks to our friends at Nico’s Nurseryland. Puck drops at 6:00PM.
Photo by CHRIS FOWLER – Recap Courtesy of TONY TROZZO