Black Press Sports
All six B.C. Hockey League Friday night games went to overtime with the Vernon Vipers and Salmon Arm Silverbacks the only teams failing to decide a winner.
The Vipers and Gorillas tied 4-4 to earn a single digit each, while the West Kelowna Warriors shaded the Merritt Centennials 3-2 and the Cowichan Valley Capitals clipped the Trail Smoke Eaters 4-3 in overtime thrillers.
All those results made the Interior Division even tighter with the Vipers (15-13-3-1) sharing second place with the Smokies and the Cents three points back alone in fourth. The Silverbacks are fifth with 30 points, while the Warriors sit sixth at 29. Vernon entertained Trail Saturday night.
“It was a good exciting game for the fans and we certainly had ample chances to win in overtime but their goalie (newbie Nic Tallarico) stood on his head,” said Viper assistant coach Kevin Kraus. “Jagger (Williamson) went in all alone with 15 seconds left in 3-on-3 and their goalie stopped him five-hole. Jagger loves going five-hole and 90 per cent of the time, that works.”
Ryan Brushett was also denied by Tallarico on a lengthy breakaway, while d-man Chris Jandric was halted on a quickie after a broken play.
“It was an intense game with lots of goals and lots of hits between two rivals who haven’t played one another for three months,” added Kraus. “We made some mistakes and they ended up in the net and we gave up two early powerplay goals. It’s nothing we can’t shore up.”
The Silverbacks extended their unbeaten streak to a season high four games on Teddy Bear Toss Night at the Shaw Centre.
The crowd of 1,050 watched the Vipers strike first just 60 seconds after the national anthem when Steven Jandric buried his 16th goal of the season on a rebound. D-man Cooper Watson put the shot on net and the Vipers got traffic in front. Brett Stapley drew the secondary assist.
Josh Blanchard, with his sixth, and Haydn Hopkins, ewith his fourth, counted Silverback powerplay goals four minutes apart to move ahead midway through the first period. Viper foward Jesse Lansdell was in the penalty box for both goals.
“We were just OK tonight. Our compete level just wasn’t there, and I think that started with giving up an early goal,” said Silverbacks ‘head coach Misko Antisin.
Bodies were flying early and often as both sides looked to take control of the game though physical play.
Vernon goalie Ty Taylor turned away two quality scoring chances before Blanchard scored from the left hashmarks on a tight angle, causing the a teddy bear shower.
Vernon peppered Tallarico, who made his fourth consecutive start in net, on a five-on-three powerplay but could not solve the Vancouver-native late in the opening 20.
The Vipers levelled the score after an extended period of offensive zone time. Jimmy Lambert scored the powerplay marker on a shot from the slot that fooled Tallarico through traffic. Lambert has seven goals. Steven Jandric fed Lambert from behind the net after a sweet feed from Stapley.
The Silverbacks recaptured the lead just 60 seconds when Josh Latta buried Justin Wilson’s pass from behind the net.
Only 16 second later, Vernon once again tied things when Austin Adamson tipped ex-Silverback Cameron Trott’s point shot upstairs.
D-man Michael Ufberg’s blast from the point went top cheddar on a late powerplay, making it 4-3 Vipers after 40 minutes.
Salmon Arm tied it thanks to a fortuitous bounce 3:15 into the third period witj Elijiah Barriga counting his 16th snipe of the year. Carson Bolduc fired at the net and Barriga pounced on the loose puck.
“The boys were not happy after the game. We had the lead heading into the third and they (Salmon Arm) were lucky to have the puck bounce their way when they needed it,” said Vipers head coach Mark Ferner.
Barriga’s goal set up overtime and the all 10 minutes were needed as the two rivals played to a draw.
“We created plenty of quality scoring chances and I feel we should have deserved a better fate,” said Ferner.
Tallarico stopped Steven Jandric point black before stopping a pair of breakaways in the final minute of the second extra frame.
“Nic has been spectacular. He’s has done exactly what has been asked of him, which is to stop puck and give the team a chance to win hockey games,” said Antisin. “We were fortunate at the end of the day to come away with the tie. Vernon out chanced us two-to-one on the evening.”
The Interior Division rivals will renew acquaintances on Wednesday in Vernon.