The Salmon Arm Silverbacks came out on the wrong side of a tough two-game series against the Vernon Vipers over the weekend.
The ’Backs opened the season with a home game in front of 913 fans at the Shaw Centre on Friday Sept. 8; when the final buzzer sounded the score was 5-1 Vernon.
Vernon opened the scoring just over three minutes into the game as a shot from Jagger Williamson made it past Bo Didur in net for the Silverbacks.
“The first game we weren’t happy with. Obviously, the kids were nervous and got off to a bad start when that quick slider goes in from the blue line,” said Silverbacks head coach Scott Atkinson.
Jesse Lansdell struck again for the Vipers before the end of the opening period assisted by Williamson and Michael Ufberg.
Josh Latta of the Silverbacks had a scoring opportunity on a breakaway in the final minutes of the period but couldn’t solve goaltender Anthony Yamnitsky.
Lansdell scored again after the midway point of the second period — flicking the puck over Didur as he dove for a rebound.
Vernon tallied up two more goals from Jack Judson and Alex Swetlikoff early in the third.
Just seconds after Vernon’s last goal the Silverbacks avoided a shutout with a goal from Justin Wilson, assisted by Max Wutzke and Mitchell Stapley.
The Vipers outshot the Silverbacks 34-22.
On the road the following evening at Kal-Tire place in Vernon, the ’Backs lost a high-scoring contest.
Salmon Arm was up 3-2 after the opening period with goals coming from Marcus Mitchell, Riley Hayles and Akito Hirose — two on the powerplay.
Stapley stretched the ’Backs lead to two goals early in the second, but goals from the Vipers’ Brett Stapley and Josh Prokop sent the game into the final frame at a 4-4 deadlock.
Logan Mostat swung the game back in the Silverbacks’ favour early in the third, snapping a wrist shot past Ty Taylor.
Two goals from the Vipers’ Jimmy Lambert in the back half of the period, one short handed, gave Vernon the 6-5 victory.
The game was capped off with a dust-up between Wilson and the Vipers’ hulking d-man Shane Kelly in the final seconds.
“Vernon was a really exciting game and quite frankly we deserved to win it in my mind,” Atkinson said.
Atkinson praised the team’s resiliency, bouncing back for a much closer game after the loss in their season opener. He said a greater focus on puck possession would improve the team’s defence and cut down on the number of shots they face.
“We’re looking to be a good team and to be a good team you have to beat good teams,” he said.
The Silverbacks will try to get their first win of the season with back-to-back home games against Penticton and Trail on September 15 and 16.