Silverbacks get a Monkey Off their Back


Game Recap

The Salmon Arm Silverbacks finally got the better of the Penticton Vees. It took 12 games and a season and a half but the ‘Backs took two points from the Vees and in dramatic fashion.

Hockey. Funny game.

The way the first forty-minutes were unfolding it looked like the Vees were well on their way to their third straight win and fifth this season against the Silverbacks, but a couple of penalties turned this game around.

Even though Salmon Arm didn’t score on a four-minute double-minor, impeded by the ‘Backs taking a penalty of their own, the Vees looked to be somewhat tired after  the lengthy short-handed situation. The Silverbacks found life and an extra gear that the Vees had trouble trying to match.

Salmon Arm pressed on into the third and both overtime periods, finding success with their aggressive fore-check and relentless puck pursuit but Chad Katunar and company turned back the Silverbacks attack time and again, until Anderson’s heroics in the fifth period; the Vees almost pulled it off.


Three Thoughts on the Game

Penalty Trouble: It wasn’t like the Vees took a lot of penalties, only four, with one being a double-minor. The problem was when the penalties occurred, especially in the second period.

Brock Balson took a questionable interference penalty late in the first period which I don’t really have a problem with. the Silverbacks started the second with an abbreviated power-play but did little to nothing with it.

The first half of the second period was void of any real excitement or fluidity with plenty of whistles and lots of start-stop action; perfect for the road team. The first ten minutes of the middle frame really didn’t have much to show far, as both teams fought the puck and battled for puck possession in the neutral zone; the game looking like a ping-pong match at times. My point is the Vees were content to nurse a 2-1 lead on the road and why not? There was no real emotion or energy in the building up to that point and the Silverbacks looked to be stuck in quicksand.

Then the peculiar high-sticking call.

After a some delay at centre ice, which included a long deliberation between the referee and linesman, the officials thumbed Louie Nanne for a four-minute double-minor for a high-stick. Now, I didn’t see the stick in question, as Nanne was in a crowd at the benches in the midst of a change. What I gather is one of the two linesman brought the penalty to the ref, blood was drawn and Nanne is sitting for four-minutes.

Though the Silverbacks didn’t capitalize on the power-play, given they kind of shot themselves in the foot when Brendan Kennedy took a blow to the head penalty, they did grab the momentum. All of the sudden the Backs had some fire in their belly and were moving their feet. They started to put the Vees on their heels, sensing a team a bit tired from killing that and a Ryan Gropp penalty minutes later. Killing penalties can be draining and the Vees looked to of run out of gas.

The ‘Backs never looked back and carried the momentum into the third and both overtime periods. The Vees coaches will tell you they had it going for them and were sitting pretty until the couple of calls that went against them. Some say they don’t believe in momentum in hockey but it’s hard not to when watching tonight’s game.

If the Vees were skating five-on-five in that period, who knows how the game would look? Would the Vees continue to stifle the Silverbacks attack and squeeze out home team and manufacture two points? I can tell you the Vees would have been in a lot better shape going into the third if they didn’t take the penalties they did.

Battle Between the Pipes: I’ve said it on many broadcasts and the Vees coaches have also, but the caliber of goaltending in the BCHL this season is second to none. Every team has at least a legit number one, if not two very capable goaltenders; the Silverbacks proved the latter tonight.

Starting only his second career game, Dustin Nikkel looked very comfortable in-goal for Salmon Arm. Remember he came in for Adam Clark on Wednesday in the second period and worked a clean sheet the rest of the way. So maybe Scott Robinson was going on a hunch and was looking for a spark in the season series. He got it.

Yes, Nikkel was the less busy of the two goaltenders but he stared down some quality looks on goal by the Vees and was a big reason why the Vees never did get ahead by two tonight. Remember, the Vees had 3-0 leads in the first four meetings this season. Tonight Nikkel made sure his team stayed within striking distance and he was worthy of a star.

Chad Katunar might have had his best performance as a Vee. Honest. Katunar was outstanding, yes that is a strong word but it’s appropriate. Katunar faced a dozen good scoring chances in the final three periods and was not letting anything by him. He stopped the ‘Backs on a handful of good chances in the third and first overtime session. His save on Ryan Schwalbe just before the game-winner by Evan Anderson was eye-popping.

Both goalies stood on their heads at times, and both battled, competed and worked their tails off all game and it was fun to watch; two prize fighters going 12 rounds shot for shot.

Law of Averages: In sports, and especially in hockey, things tend to balance them self out over time. The Vees had rattled off 11 straight wins against the Silverbacks going back to last season.

Everybody knows the saying “Every dog has their day,” and that held true tonight. Not saying the Silverbacks are a lesser opponent by any means; they showed they were more than capable tonight. Any team, no matter their wins-loss record will string together a good sixty-minutes and play at their best and that was Salmon Arm.

I could see it coming as the Backs, maybe with the exception of Wednesday, have played the Vees really tough and seemed to get better and better as the season series wore on. Give credit to the ‘Backs as they won and busted their hump with a short-handed line-up. Remember, only 10 regulars upfront and missing top-four defenseman in Blake Box on the blue-line. Salmon Arm really wanted it tonight and it showed.

About CBeauchemin

Director of Broadcasting & Communication for the Penticton Vees
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