Four unanswered goals over the final 33 minutes gave the hometown Vernon Vipers a 5-2 win over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in Game 1 of their B.C. Hockey League Interior Divisional semifinal Friday night at Kal Tire Place.
Game 2 went Saturday at 7 p.m. in Vernon with the series shifting to the Shuswap for Games 3 and 4 Tuesday and Wednesday at the Shaw Centre.
Goals a minute apart at 6:53 and 7:53 of the second period from first star Derek Brown (finished with 1+3) and Jagger Williamson erased a 2-1 Salmon Arm lead.
“We did have a slow start, then we came out and took it to them,” said Brown, making his playoff debut with the Vipers. “It was nice to finally get the ball rolling and put the pucks into the net.”
Former Silverback Josh Latta made it 4-2 Vernon at 11:14 of the third period and Mitch Andres scored into an empty net with 1:46 remaining to seal the opening game victory.
Tanner Campbell opened the scoring on Salmon Arm’s first shot, taking a beautiful feed from behind the net from Ryan Hogg and beating Ty Taylor two minutes after the national anthem.
Vernon tied the game on a powerplay when former Silverback defenceman Cameron Trott ripped a screen shot from the blueline past Salmon Arm goalie Reid Cooper at 11:35. Trott was the game’s third star.
Campbell, the game’s second star, scored his second 1:35 into the second period after former Vipers centre Brandon Whistle won a faceoff in Vernon territory back to Campbell, who wired a wrist shot in off the goal post over Taylor’s left shoulder.
“I thought we were in pretty good position after the first period,” said Silverbacks assistant coach Brooks Christensen. “I thought we were playing hard, we battled with them and were doing the right things. I thought we kind of fell away from our game plan.”
Taylor finished with 23 saves while Cooper stopped 38 in his Salmon Arm playoff debut.
Vernon beat Salmon Arm five out of six times in the regular season, though the Silverbacks won the final meeting.
Elsewhere in the Interior Friday, Jack Barnes’ goal seven minutes into the second period stood up as the winner as the top-ranked Penticton Vees shaded the eighth-seeded Coquitlam Express 2-1.
Kale Howarth scored at 5:39 of the first overtime to give the Trail Smoke Eaters a wild 6-5 win over the West Kelowna Warriors.
The Warriors led 3-1 after 20 minutes. Trail scored four straight in the second to take a 5-3 lead, only to have the Warriors tie the game before the end of the frame.
Vernon’s Blaine Caton had a goal for the Smokies.
Wenatchee beat Merritt 4-0 Thursday in that series opener.
Fourth seeded Chilliwack Chiefs went to Prince George and blanked the Mainland Division champion Spruce Kings 3-0.
In Victoria, Cole Poliziani scored 69 seconds into OT as the fourth-ranked Alberni Valley Bulldogs stunned the Grizzlies 5-4.
Island Division road teams were 2-for-2 Friday, as the Powell River Kings went to Nanaimo and thumped the Clippers 4-1.
In Langley, the visiting Surrey Eagles scored a 3-2 win over the Rivermen.