Capitalizing on opportunities helped the Salmon Arm SilverBacks take Game 1 of their second round series with the Penticton Vees 3-1.
Early in the first period, Brendan O’Donnell thought he opened the scoring for the Vees as his shot low on SilverBacks goalie Kris Moore appeared to go in. There wasn’t much reaction from the crowd of 1,250 at the South Okanagan Events Centre when the officials waived it off.
“I knew it went in,” said O’Donnell. “The light didn’t go on and the referee didn’t see the play. There was no argument.”
Vees captain Derik Johnson was confident O’Donnell’s shot went but it’s not something they are dwelling on.
“I’m pretty happy with our play and how we competed,” said Johnson, who following the morning skate said the Vees are energized for tonight’s game.
Not long before O’Donnell’s chance, Mark Hall had a foot of open net on Moore’s gloveside and shot wide. Joey Holka also hit a post.
At 13:28, SilverBacks forward Mike Hammond, who led the league with 93 points, scored the first goal as he took a feed from Bryce Gervais then made a couple of slick moves to elude the Vees defenders than beat Vees goalie Joel Rumpel. The goal came on the power play when Johnson was sent off for roughing. That was the only scoring in the period, which the Vees outshot the SilverBacks 12-4. In the second, the Vees outshot the SilverBacks 14-8 but they were still held of the scoreboard. It wasn’t until the last four minutes of the period where the Vees put constant pressure on the SilverBacks. On one chance, O’Donnell found Holka, who tried to go upstairs but was denied. Then on another opportunity, Curtis Loik created a turnover and fed Hall, who was denied by Moore kick save.
In the third period, Hammond scored 55 seconds in to seal the win. Vees rookie defenceman Troy Stecher gave the home team some life on the power play, but the Vees weren’t able to find holes in Moore. With the net empty, Hammond was able to collect his hat trick with nine seconds remaining.
Johnson said he liked what they did in the second and third period and praised Moore for his solid play.
“We want to do more of the same,” he said. “We want to limit their odd man rushes. We made plays, we just couldn’t finish.
The Vees captain said they had about 15 grade A chances and defensively were good but admitted to some slip-ups.
O’Donnell felt they followed their game plan well. Where he said they could be better is on the power play where they went 1-for-7. The absence of Mark MacMillan who is out indefinitely was noticeable.
“It’s tough to lose a guy like that,” said O’Donnell. “We have guys willing to step-up. We just have to play our game.”
The Vees had four penalties to kill and gave up the lone goal.
SilverBacks coach Tim Kehler said he wasn’t happy with all aspects of his team’s game.
“We’re fortunate for the win,” said Kehler, who felt his group was outplayed. “We have game-breaking type players. Moore was outstanding in net and our penalty killing was outstanding.”
Kehler was quick to say that his group needs to be better if they want to prevail tonight as he expects a desperate Vees group to come out.
“I liked the Vees compete level,” he added. They defended well and didn’t give up lots of opportunities. I expect a stronger SilverBacks team tonight.”
Game 2 is tonight at the SOEC at 7 p.m.