Matthew Tovell was perfect between the pipes as the Salmon Arm Silverbacks defeated the Vernon Vipers 3-0 on opening night of the 2022-23 BC Hockey League season.
Tovell, playing his first BCHL start, made 36 saves for the shutout and was named the game’s first star.
A choppy first period at the Shaw Centre saw the Vipers go on two powerplays but with no results. Midway through the period the Backs got a powerplay of their own and held possession in the Vipers end for the full two minutes. However, the Vipers bent but didn’t break and the period ended in a scoreless tie.
In the second, Vipers forward Julian Facchinelli has a glorious chance but was robbed by Tovell on a cross ice pass.
The Backs got on the board moments later as Isaac Lambert converted on a chance down low to give his team a 1-0 lead.
A few minutes later, as the Vipers were setting up on a powerplay, Silverbacks captain Nathan Mackie was sprung on a breakaway and snapped it five hole on goaltender Roan Clarke for a shorthanded tally to make it 2-0.
The Vipers more than doubled the Backs in shots but couldn’t get the bounce they needed.
In the third period, Seiya Tanaka-Campbell had the best chance but just missed up high as the Vipers remained down by a pair. The period was scoreless until the final minute when Ethan Ullrick hit the empty net to bring the game to its final score of 3-0.
The Vipers don’t have to wait long for a shot at redemption. The teams will face off at Kal Tire Place for the second half of a home-and-home at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24.