The Silverbacks extended their unbeaten streak to a season-high four games, after settling for a 4-4 draw against Vernon on Friday evening.
Fans only had to wait 60 seconds for the first goal on Teddy Bear Toss Night at the Shaw Centre, but it came off the stick of Vernon’s Steven Jandirc.
“We were just OK tonight. Our compete level just wasn’t there, and I think that started with giving up an early goal,” said Silverbacks head coach Misko Antisin.
Bodies were flying early and often as both sides looked to take control though physical play.
Ty Taylor turned away two quality scoring chances before Josh Blanchard scored from the left hashmarks on a tight angle, causing the Shaw Centre to erupt and the teddy bears to rain down on the ice.
The equalizer sparked the ’Backs offence and Hadyn Hopkins potted his fourth of the season on the man advantage.
Vernon peppered Nic Tallarico, who made his fourth consecutive start in net for the ’Backs, on a five-on-three powerplay but could not solve the Vancouver native.
The Vipers leveled after eight minutes into the middle frame, after an extended period of offensive zone time. Jimmy Lambert scored the powerplay marker on a shot that fooled Tallarico through traffic.
The Silverbacks recaptured the lead just 60 seconds after Lambert’s goal, when Josh Latta buried Justin Wilson’s pass from behind the net.
Only 16 second later, Vernon leveled the game.
On the powerplay, the snakes capitalized on defenceman Michael Ufberg’s blast from the point, giving the visitors a one-goal lead heading into the final 20 minutes.
Three minutes into the third, and Salmon Arm leveled the score at four thanks to a fortuitous bounce.
Hopkins dumped the puck into the Vipers zone and as Taylor left his net to play the puck behind the net, it hopped over his stick and Carson Bolduc fired towards the goal, before Elijiah Barriga pounced on the loose puck.
“The boys were not happy after the game. We had the lead heading into the third and they (Salmon Arm) were lucky to have the puck bounce their way when they needed it,” said Vipers head coach Mark Ferner.
Barriga’s goal set up overtime and all 10 minutes were needed as the two rivals played to a draw.
“We created plenty of quality scoring chances and I feel we deserved a better fate,” said Ferner.
Tallarico made three game-saving stops in the two overtime periods; stopping Steven Jandric point blank before a pair of breakaways in the final minute of the second-extra frame.
“Nic has been spectacular. He has done exactly what has been asked of him, which is to stop puck and give the team a chance to win hockey games,” Antisin said.
Tallarico faced 50 shots and turned away 46, earning the first star in the contest.
“We were fortunate at the end of the day to come away with the tie. Vernon out-chanced us two-to-one (in) the evening,” said Antisin.
The Interior Division rivals will renew acquaintances on Wednesday, Dec. 14 in Vernon.