It was a big night for both the Vernon Vipers and first responders at Kal Tire Place on Friday.
On First Responders Appreciation Night, the Vipers were taken to the shootout by rival Salmon Arm Silverbacks and came out of it with a 2-1 victory.
It was the biggest crowd of the season at Kal Tire Place with 2,993 in attendance. Ticket buyers who mentioned the Beth Marks Memorial Fund had $3 from their ticket price donated to a cause she held dear. Marks passed away in July of this year, and was the initial spearheader of First Responders Night.
The night also saw funding raised for initiatives such as Habitat for Humanity and Warm and Fuzzy Collection – groups that Marks loved or contributed to in her life.
On a night when more than $14,000 was presented to Courageous Companions – an organization that assists veterans and first responders in Canada – it was fitting that the shootout winner was scored by Logan Cash.
With a name like that, it’s no wonder he cashed in on the Vipers’ third shootout attempt and sealed the victory. Vernon’s Connor Merritt also scored in the shootout, and goaltender Reilly Herbst stopped two of three to cap off the 30 of 31 saves he made in regulation and overtime.
The Vipers got behind early. Salmon Arm’s Drew Bennett scored through the five-hole of Herbst just past the halfway point in the first period.
But in the second frame it took Vipers winger Matt Kowalski just one minute to pot his 11th goal of the season and knot the game at one goal apiece.
The Vipers held momentum after netting the equalizer, drawing two consecutive penalties by Silberbacks’ Zach Gabruch and racking up nine shots over the two resulting powerplays. But Salmon Arm goalie Ethan Langenegger (who finished the game with a .974 save percentage) kept the score even.
Both goaltenders fought off solid scoring chances the rest of the way, making it the sort of game that seems destined for a shootout – and with a crowd of nearly 3,000, why not go the full distance? Cash put the cherry on top of First Responders night by deking in-close against Langenegger before roofing it under the bar.
The Vipers now have a 14-10-1-1 record and sit in the mushy middle of the Interior division, tied for third with the Wenatchee Wild but with a game in hand.
Vernon plays at home Saturday night against the Langley Rivermen at 6 p.m.