And on the 50th shot, the Vernon Vipers advanced.
Niko Karamanis scored at 3:23 of the first overtime on the team’s 50th shot on goalie Kyle Dumba to give the Vipers a 1-0 win over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks at the Shaw Centre Wednesday. Vernon wins the best-of-seven B.C. Hockey League Interior Division quarterfinal in four games and will face the Wenatchee Wild in round two.
It was a seriously tense match that bled into overtime after 60 minutes of regulation play with no goals for either side. Fans of both teams were on the edge of their seats by the end, gasping at every dramatic play and show of finesse.
The first period ended with 14 shots on goal for Vernon and nine for Salmon Arm. Both teams made a few strong plays during the first, poking for holes in the opponents’ defence. Vernon made a few attempts to land snipes from inside the zone and Salmon Arm’s Rhett Kingston just barely missed out on a breakaway attempt, but neither team landed a point on the board.
Things started getting a little more fired-up in the second, a penalty-heavy period that saw aggressive play from both teams. If the first period was about calmly probing the opponent for weakness, the second was about trying to smash through that weak point with a battering ram. Some big hits rocked the boards and echoed through the arena as possession of the puck was desperately sought across a nail-biting 20 minutes of play. Shots on goal by the end were 13 for Vernon and nine for Salmon Arm.
In the third period both teams were hit hard by penalties early on, with the Silverbacks losing use of one of their top scorers, Rhett Kingston, for much of the period through a game misconduct penalty. Vernon also took a five-minute major penalty early on. Despite this, both teams continued to sweat it out on the ice, vying hard to land the decisive single goal that would decide the game.
Shots on goal were even by the end of the third, 14 for Vernon and 13 for Salmon Arm, but still no points on the scoreboard for either side. The Silverbacks came within inches of a goal at least twice during the third period, sending the crowd into an uproar several times as the puck dinged off the post or was narrowly deflected by Vipers goalie Ty Taylor.
By the end of the period the Silverbacks faced a dilemma: they were three seconds into a penalty just as the game was coming into overtime. The Vipers took advantage of this to the fullest, piling into the Silverbacks’ zone and shooting rapid-fire slapshots. After a long, drawn out and extremely tense game in regulation the overtime period faded out in a mere three minutes and 23 seconds after a goal from Karamanis.
Dumba was named player of the game for his outstanding performance in net during the match. Ty Taylor made 31 saves for the Vernon shutout.
All four Interior Division first-round series ended in sweeps.
Penticton Vees edged Coquitlam Express 2-1 and the Wild downed the hometown Merritt Centennials 4-1.
Penticton will play the Trail Smoke Eaters in the second round. Trail swept the West Kelowna Warriors.
The divisional semifinals will start March 16 in Penticton and Vernon.