After battling hard down the stretch for home-ice advantage in the opening round of the B.C.Hockey League playoffs, the Vernon Vipers watched the Salmon Arm Silverbacks take it away Friday.
The Silverbacks, who entered the playoffs having lost their last four regular-season games, scored five times in the first 24:07, and held on for a 5-3 win over the Vipers in front of 1,641 fans at Kal Tire Place.
Game 2 in the best-of-seven Interior Conference quarterfinal goes Saturday, 6 p.m., at Kal Tire Place before the series shifts to the Shuswap for Game 3 Monday at the Shaw Centre.
Jonathan Krahn scored on Salmon Arm’s first shot at 1:59 of the opening frame, and Andy Stevens made it 2-0 Gorillas at 11:10 on a powerplay.
The teams combined for four goals in the first 4:07 of the second period, with Salmon Arm scoring three of them to chase Vernon starting goalie Aidan Porter, named the goalie on the league’s All-Rookie team Thursday.
Jack Sampson, at 1:14, John Little, at 3:04 and Trevor Adams, at 4:07, completed Salmon Arm’s scoring. Jesse Lansdell, on a powerplay, got Vernon on the board at 2:44.
Jagger Williamson pulled the Vipers to within three at 16:43 of the second, and added his second of the night at 13:57 of the third to round out the scoring.
The Vipers hit three goal posts behind Salmon Arm goalie Ethan Langenegger, who stopped 34 of 37 Vipers shots.
Porter made 11 saves on 15 shots before giving way to Bradley Cooper, who stopped all seven shots he faced over the final 36 minutes.
Salmon Arm won five of the six regular-season meetings this year with the Vipers, though all five were before the league’s Jan. 10 trade deadline. Vernon won the last meeting Jan. 14.
The Vipers swept the Gorillas in the opening round of last year’s playoffs.