It was a crazy game to end a crazy B.C. Hockey League season for the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
The Backs – eliminated from winning the three-team pod Friday, May 7, wtih a 3-1 loss to the Vernon Vipers – let a three-goal and pair of two-goal deficits slip away Saturday, May 8, in a 7-6 shootout loss to the West Kelowna Warriors at Kal Tire Place in Vernon.
West Kelowna improved to 8-9-1-1 with one game left Sunday afternoon against the pod-champion Vipers (12-5-1-1). Salmon Arm finished the 20-game season at 9-7-2-2.
The Silverbacks burst out of the gate by jumping out to a 3-0 lead halfway through the first, scoring three times in a span of just 5:16, the goals coming from Simon Tassy, Phillippe Jacques and Julian Recine.
Just 14 seconds after making it 3-0, the Silverbacks thought they had made it 4-0, when Drew Bennett appeared to put home a loose puck in the crease, but the referees called Cameron Recchi for a high-saidsticking penalty as he was trying to knock in the rebound. The officiating crew said Recchi made contact with goaltender Zach Bennett’s mask as he was trying to bat in the puck.
The Warriors would respond with two goals in 1:18 from Marcus Joughin and Tyson Jugnauth. Tassy responded for the Backs with his second of the game just 39 seconds later to make the score 4-2. Warriors rookie forward Carter Schmidt added to the craziness with 1:19 remaining in the first, netting his second of the season to make the score 4-3 for the Silverbacks after 20 minutes.
Neither team scored in the first 12 minutes of the second period, but shortly after that mark, there was another flurry of goals.
First, Bennett got on the board to make it 5-3 for the Backs, netting his seventh of the season off a rebound.
Warriors captain Elan Bar Lev Wise cut the lead to 5-4 just 1:44 later when he picked up his first goal of the season.
Just over a minute later, however, Jacques scored his second of the game, releasing a quick shot from the slot that hit the post and went past goaltender Johnny Derrick, who had replaced Zach Bennett in goal.
Warriors forward Carter Wilkie narrowed the lead to one when he scored on a power play with under a minute to go in the second.
The only goal of the third came from Joughin at the 5:28 mark, on yet another Warriors power play, which tied the game 6-6.
In overtime, Salmon Arm had several good looks from Bennett, Recchi (twice) and Hunter Sansbury, but Derrick came up huge each time to send the game to a shootout.
Wilkie would be the only player to score from either side in the shootout, as Derrick stopped all three Silverbacks shooters.
“I loved the effort of our group, obviously to come out. There was not a ton to play for from a standings standpoint, but obviously we showed tonight that we were going to battle right until the end no matter what the result was,” said Salmon Arm assistant coach Carter Cochrane. “Some things went our way, some things didn’t. Lots of goals, lots of guys got involved…Obviously wasn’t the way we wanted to finish it off here, even the [past] week, but as we’ve talked about all throughout this [season], loved the effort and spirit of our group. Overall it’s tough to be disappointed with any of our guys and with the team as a whole.”
Liam Vanderkooi played the first two periods in goal for Salmon Arm and finished with nine saves on 14 shots. Owen Say finished up, stopping 10 of 11 shots in the final period and overtime.
Zachary Bennett made 11 saves for West Kelowna while Derrick finished with 24.
Drew Bennett was named the Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game.
The Vipers are 5-3-0-1 against the Warriors and have won the last four.
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