I mentioned the ongoing rivalry between the Salmon Arm Silverbacks and the Vernon Vipers in previous articles, but after the intensity of their matchups in this pod season, I decided to look closely at all the action that went down this season.
Playing one another 10 times in just over a month, having to duke it out for first place all season definitely made these games worthwhile.
Vernon ended up coming out on top of its host pod with West Kelowna and Salmon Arm, but the action and intensity were there the entire time. From the hits, goals, and saves, there is never a shortage of action when the Vipers and Silverbacks meet.
Breaking down the numbers
Vernon bested the Silverbacks seven times, and Salmon Arm walked away with three games in their 10 regular season pod matchups. This may show that Vernon dominated the Silverbacks, but the tide could have easily been turned the other way.
In just one week of play between Apr. 7 – 14, these two teams met each other three times and had all three games decided in overtime. Two of the matchups had identical scores as Vernon secured it in extra time 6-5 on Apr. 7 and 14. In between those games, on Apr. 10, Salmon Arm walked away with a 2-1 win in overtime.
This was early on in the season, and in that week, the Silverbacks and Vipers combined for a total of 25 goals in just three games. It’s easy to tell that these teams like to compete against each other, and will battle to the very end.
We've got more firsts!
— Salmon Arm Silverbacks (@SASilverbacks) April 15, 2021
Three back-to-back overtime games weren’t enough for these teams, so how about four? The two teams next matchup on Apr. 17 went all the way through overtime into a shootout. This game ended with Vernon walking away with a 3-2 victory.
Across the entire month of April, Salmon Arm and Vernon faced off eight times and combined for a whopping 58 goals. As the numbers show, these teams averaged over seven goals a game against each other in the month of April. It not only ensured an entertaining game each time they met but proved that players stepped up to the plate when these games came around.
Great rivalry moments
Some of the most highlighted plays this season were in the intense moments between these two teams. A new player to Salmon Arm who stepped up in these matches was Sullivan Mack. In their matchup on Apr. 10, Salmon Arm won 2-1, and Mack scored both the game-tying goal and was the overtime hero.
Let’s not forget about Silverbacks starting goalie Owen Say who saw the brunt of these matchups against Vernon. Say played in all three of Salmon Arm’s wins against the Vipers, and even had some highlighted performances in the overtime matchups.
Tonight's @Talkingrockgolf Play of the Game is our Save of the Game, or rather, two (we know we're cheating a bit).
We wanted to recognize @OwenSay31's clutch saves late in the 3rd & OT!
Honourable mention to Mack's impressive opening goal & Recchi for shattering the glass 😆 pic.twitter.com/6NwIUTPVu3
— Salmon Arm Silverbacks (@SASilverbacks) April 18, 2021
In their game on Apr. 14, Danny Ciccarello scored twice to bring the Silverbacks back into the game, and who else but captain Hunter Sansbury got the game-tying goal right after to force overtime. Regardless of the loss, both Sansbury and Ciccarello were difference-makers for the Silverbacks.
Overall, we saw Simon Tassy rise to the occasion as well this year. Tassy had an excellent year with 27 points in 20 games and led the BCHL in goal scoring with 18. Nine of his points came from the 10 matchups against Vernon, which showed Tassy was ready every night against the Vipers.
Looking into the future
It’s a no-brainer to say Vernon and Salmon Arm have developed an intense rivalry with one another over the last two decades. This season only made that rivalry tighter by having the two teams face 10 times in such a short period of time.
With that being said, I think the Silverbacks and Vipers bring out the best in each other, and really make for some exciting hockey. Vernon will continue to see Salmon Arm plenty of times as they both face off in the Interior Conference and look to prove to one another and the entire BCHL they are the better team.