Silverbacks defenceman Andy Stevens moves the puck up the ice during the Feb. 22 game against Penticton, keeping an eye up for a good pass. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

Silverbacks finish regular season with loss to Penticton

First round of playoffs pits ‘Backs against Vernon Vipers once again

A promising 2-1 lead going into the third period wasn’t enough to carry the Salmon Arm Silverbacks to victory in their Feb. 22 final home game against the Penticton Vees.

The first period was a mad scramble for possession and good scoring chances, though it was a quiet 20 minutes on the scoreboard.

The Silverbacks edged out the beginnings of a lead early in the first during the power play, with Nick Unruh capitalizing on a good angle to slip the puck past Vees’ goalie Jack LaFontaine.

Read More: Silverbacks win one in three-game stretch versus Wenatchee

Massimo Rizzo of the Vees came in to tie things up late in the period, though shortly after a penatly put Penticton on the back-foot and Unruh skated in to bag his second power-play goal of the night.

Heading into the third at 2-1, the first six minutes were a turning point for Penticton, scoring twice on the power play. Later in the period, a turnaround gave Jack Barnes the room to fire one past Langenegger and increase Penticton’s lead to 4-2.

Salmon Arm pulled their goalie in a last-ditch attempt to turn the game around, but an empty-net goal by Penticton was the final nail in the coffin.

The Silverbacks’s final game of the regular season was a rematch against Penticton that was effectively over in the first period.

Related: Silverbacks break even in double-header against Trail Smoke Eaters

The Vees came out hard and heavy in the opening minutes of the game, scoring a pair of goals within eight seconds of each other. The pressure of a 2-0 deficit was increased further as Penticton scored again just before the halfway mark in the first. Andre Ghantous, Ty Pochipinski and Ryan Sandelin claimed this trio of first-period points.

In the second, Penticton expanded their lead further to 4-0, after a lone goal from David Silye. After this goal, neither side found the net with any of their scoring attempts for the remaining 33 minutes of ice time, culminating in a 4-0 shutout victory for the Vees.

With the regular season wrapped up, Salmon Arm’s league standings pit them against the Vernon Vipers in the BCHL playoffs for the second year in a row. The Silverbacks held a 5-1 record over Vernon in the regular season, and both teams have a matching seven players on the bench who faced off in the playoffs last season.

The season stats show a fairly even match in terms of scoring between the teams, with 17 for Salmon Arm and 15 for Vernon. The Silverbacks show an edge in five-on-five play, the Vipers had a bit more success on the powerplay against Salmon Arm. In overtime, it was Salmon Arm skaters coming up clutch with two OT wins to Vernon’s zero.

Read More: Silverbacks’ captain, coach talk about the pre-playoff push

In the final stretch of the season, the Silverbacks had a seven-game stretch against the two of the top teams in the league, Penticton and Wenatchee, winning only a single game, in contrast to Vernon who won eight of their last 10 games, pushing them up from their slump in league rankings.

With files from Ryan Lepper


 

@Jodi_Brak117
jodi.brak@saobserver.net

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