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Silverbacks eliminate Vipers, face Vees in BCHL semifinal

Salmon Arm Silverbacks took out the Vernon Vipers with a 4-3 overtime victory in Game 5
The Penticton Vees will face the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in the Kootenay Conference final. Photo: Jim Bailey

The Penticton Vees will play the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in the Interior Conference final.

The Silverbacks are moving on to the BCHL semifinals for the first time since 2011 after a 4-3 overtime win over the Vernon Vipers in Game 5 to win the series 4-1, on Thursday (April 21).

Mathieu Bourgault scored the overtime winner with a wrap around 25 seconds into the first OT to send the Shaw Centre fans into a frenzy.

Bourgault had missed most of the regular season with an injury, but his playoff game winning goal clinched the series for Salmon Arm.

Lee Parks got Vernon on the board eight minutes into the first period, marking the first time in the series the Vipers scored the first goal of the game.

The lead did not last long as Hayden Stavroff replied just over a minute later and Maddux Martin gave the Silverbacks the lead before the end of the frame.

The Vipers battled back, getting goals from Julian Facchinelli and Dylan Compton in the second to take a 3-2 lead. However, Nic Leggett scored his first BCHL goal to tie the game with 11:07 left in the third.

Vernon outshot Salmon Arm 35-33 and went 0-for-1 on the power play, while the ‘Backs went 0-for-2.

The Vees meanwhile, completed the sweep of the Wenatchee Wild with a 5-1 win on Wednesday, April 19.

Bradly Nadeau scored 21 seconds into the game to set the tone for the Penticton Vees who would go on to score four straight to advance to the Interior Conference Finals.

Josh Nadeau had two goals, while Hiroki Gojsic and Brett Moravec had the other two for the Vees. Mario Gasparini scored the lone marker for Wenatchee.

Penticton goalie Luca Di Pasquo stopped 28 of 29 shots to earn first star and see his save percentage climb to a playoff best .939 and his goals-against average drop to 1.50, also tops in the league.

The Vees-Silverbacks series will wait for the completion of the Coastal Conference series with the Port Alberni Bulldogs forcing a Game 7 with a 7-1 drubbing of the Surrey Eagles on Sunday, April 23. The deciding game will go Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. in Surrey.

The Chilliwack Chiefs won their best-of-seven series 4-2 over the Nanaimo Clippers with a 5-0 win on Sunday night, and await the winner of the Eagles-Bulldogs series.

The winners of the respective conference finals will play for the BCHL championship Fred Page Cup.

Jim Bailey

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