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Vipers Punch Ticket To Round Two as Kowalski Ends Marathon

Vernon, BC:  The Vernon Vipers and Salmon Arm Silverbacks nearly played two full hockey games in less than 6 hours time as the Interior Division Rivals battled in game 5.  In the end, Matt Kowalski played the hero late in the 3rd overtime to send the Vernon Vipers through to the 2nd round of the playoffs as they defeated Salmon Arm 4-3.

The Vipers struck early in the first, just 53 seconds in as Logan Cash tapped in a pass from Jesse Lansdell to make it 1-0.  The game would be tied up shortly after as Trevor Adams ripped home his 2nd of the playoffs just 2 minutes later to make it 1-1.  The Vipers had some chances in the period as Matt Kowalski was stopped on a two on one and Teddy Wooding was stopped on a rebound chance.  The shots finished 11-8 in favour of the homeside in a 1-1 tie after 1.

In the second, the Vipers had some early chances, but couldn’t finish.  The Silverbacks took their first lead of the night as puck found Andy Stevens in the slot and he snapped home his third of the playoffs.  Ben Sanderson followed up with a good look, but was stopped by Ethan Langenegger.  The Vipers had some problems in their own zone and a seeing eye shot from Logan Shaw found its way to the back of the net to give Salmon Arm a 3-1 lead.  The Vipers had a powerplay to work with shortly after, but again chances but no results after 2 periods trailing by two.

In the third, the Vipers had a quick response as Michael Young stepped into a slap shot off the faceoff to make it 3-2.  Two minutes later on a delayed penalty, Jesse Lansdell hooked a puck in front where Jack Judson pounced on it to tie the game up at 3.  The Silverbacks would get a powerplay with a chance to regain their lead, but Porter and the PK were able to kill it off.  Regulation wouldn’t solve anything and for the 3rd time in 5 games overtime was required.

In the 1st overtime, the Backs had some great chances to end it.  The best chance came from Jonathan Krahn but he clanked one off the crossbar.   Matt Verboon shortly after that missed from a shot from the slot.  Lane Zablocki had a chance at the other end, but Langenegger made the save.  80 minutes solved nothing.

In the 2nd overtime, you could see fatigue start to set in.  Matt Kowalski had a great chance and that got the momentum rolling.   Langenegger made a handful of big saves in the frame.  Not to be outdone, Aidan Porter stood tall making a great save off of Trevor Adams.  Ben Sandereson and Ben Helgeson had chances, but again no resolution through 100 minutes.

In the third OT, Lane Zablocki hit the goal post.  Minutes later, Hudson Schandor was sprung on a breakaway, but didn’t get a shot away.  Things opened up a bit with chances at both ends.  It wasn’t until the final 4 minutes of the 6th period as Connor Marritt caused a neutral zone turnover to send Matt Kowalski away and he cut to the middle and on the backhand roof the game winning/series clinching goal as the Vipers win 4-3.

Here’s the scoring summary:

1ST PERIOD

VER – Logan Cash (1) – Jesse Lansdell (4), Jagger Williamson (4) – 0:53

VER – Trevor Adams (2) – Matt Verboon (1) – 2:58

2ND PERIOD

SA – Andy Stevens (3) – Matt Verboon (2), Aiden Jenner (2) – 4:42

SA – Logan Shaw (1) – Akito Hirose (4), Jack Sampson (2) – 10:36

3RD PERIOD

VER – Michael Young (1) – Teddy Wooding (2) – 1:27

VER – Jack Judson (2) – Jesse Lansdell (5), Jagger Williamson (5) – 3:27

OVERTIME 1

NO SCORING

OVERTIME 2

NO SCORING

OVERTIME 3

VER – Matt Kowalski (3) – Connor Marritt (1) – 16:56

The Vipers will now await their opponent for the next round of the playoffs.