Overtime heroics from Josh Latta helped the Vernon Vipers even up their best-of-seven B.C. Hockey League Interior Conference quarterfinal with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks Saturday.
Latta, a former Silverback, scored unassisted at 8:46 of the first overtime period, giving the Vipers a 2-1 win over the Gorillas in front of 1,671 fans at Kal Tire Place, and tying the series at one game apiece.
Game 3 is Monday in Salmon Arm at the Shaw Centre, followed by Game 4 on Wednesday. Game 5 will be back at Kal Tire Place Friday, March 8.
Latta ripped a shot over the shoulder of Salmon Arm goalie Ethan Langenegger and under the crossbar to give the Vipers the comeback win.
His goal was the first in the series for Vernon not scored by Jesse Lansdell or Jagger Williamson.
Lansdell forced overtime with his second of the series at 12:39 of the third period, set up by Williamson, who scored twice in Friday’s 5-3 Game 1 loss.
Hudson Schandor opened the scoring for Salmon Arm with his first of the series at 19:15 of the second period.
Langenegger finished with 29 saves while Aidan Porter – pulled in Game 1 after giving up five goals on 15 shots in the first 24 minutes – bounced back and made 24 saves for the Vipers.
Three of the top-four Interior Conference seeds are even in their first-round series, with only the third-seed and defending league champion Wenatchee Wild enjoying a 1-0 lead on the West Kelowna Warriors. Game 2 is Sunday in Washington state. Penticton (No. 1) and Cowichan Valley, Merritt (No. 2) and Trail (No. 7) and Vernon (No. 4) and Salmon Arm (No. 5) are deadlocked at one apiece.
The regular season champion and defending national champion Chilliwack Chiefs are down 2-0 in their first-round Mainland Division series, losing twice at home to the Langley Rivermen.
All BCHL playoff action can be found here.