What an evening of hockey we were treated to in Cranbrook on Saturday night.
The Cranbrook Bucks welcomed the Salmon Arm Silverbacks to Western Financial Place for a rematch following the Silverbacks 3-0 victory on Friday.
The previous night’s win extended Salmon Arm’s point-streak to 11 contests (10-0-1), and improved its record on the road to 14-0-2 this season.
The loss on Friday was the third in the last four games for the Bucks, who had gone 2-3-0 in their past five games and 5-4-1 in their last 10.
Saturday’s contests offered Cranbrook a fresh start after a tough shutout loss one night earlier, in which they played very well and certainly deserved better.
The rematch didn’t get off to a great start, however, as the Silverbacks got on the board early.
It took just 45 seconds for Salmon Arm’s top line to convert, as Mathieu Bourgault scored his seventh goal of the season from Noah Serdachny and Simon Tassy.
Tassy came to town with 97 career BC Hockey League points, so after an assist on Friday and another one on the first goal on Saturday, he was one point away from the century mark.
At 10:25 of the first period, Tassy would get the last touch on a puck with eyes for the back of the net, putting the Silverbacks up 2-0 with his 100th point in the BCHL.
Tassy’s league-leading 28th goal of the season was assisted by Serdachny and Michael Ladyman.
It looked as though Salmon Arm had gone up 3-0 on just their sixth shot of the game at the 12:48 mark, but the goal was disallowed as the puck did not enter the net in a legal fashion.
Despite the goal being disallowed, Bucks head coach Ryan Donald decided it was time to try changing the momentum, and pulled goaltender Evan Gartner in favour of Nathan Airey.
The move seemed to pay off as Cranbrook was able to slow the Silverbacks down, and the Bucks would find the game’s next goal despite being on the penalty-kill.
Cranbrook’s Zeth Kindrachuk was able to chip the puck past a Salmon Arm defenseman and create a shorthanded 2-on-1 with Jarrod Smith.
Kindrachuk fed Smith with a pass in the slot and he was able to fire one by Owen Say for his fourth goal of the season, and the Bucks first goal of the weekend made it a 2-1 game at 17:15 of the opening period.
That is how the score would stay as the opening 20 minutes came to an end, with Cranbrook outshooting the Silverbacks 10-8 in the first stanza.
It looked like the Bucks had pulled even with Salmon Arm about two minutes into the second period when Cole Assailly fired one through Say in the Silverbacks crease.
Despite just about everyone in the building thinking Assailly had scored, the puck proved to have hit the post, and the game stayed 2-1.
It wouldn’t be long before Salmon Arm would extend the lead to 3-1, as Serdachny got his 20th goal of the season from Will Lavigne and Tassy at 4:44 to make it a two-goal game.
That swing in momentum wouldn’t affect Cranbrook for very long, as they’d get back within a goal at the 7:06 mark of the period.
Johnny Johnson was able to fire one through Say for his 14th of the season, assisted by defensemen Carsyn Good and Quaid Anderson to make it a 3-2 game.
Then, just 1:11 later, the Bucks came looking for more.
This time it was defenseman Bauer Morrissey who gained the blueline, shook off a defender and ripped one home to tie the game up 3-3.
Morrissey’s fourth of the season was assisted by Rhys Bentham and Liam Hansson at 8:17 to square things up.
The Silverbacks would respond on the powerplay, as Serdachny scored his second of the game from Tassy and Daniel Panetta at 14:53 to restore their one-goal lead.
Salmon Arm would take that 4-3 lead into the second intermission, as the two teams split four goals in the middle frame, and Cranbrook outshot the Silverbacks 12-8 in the period.
The Bucks got off to a hot start in the third period and wasted little time getting back on even terms.
At the 59 second mark of the third stanza, Liam Hansson set up Kellan Hjartarson for his 13th goal of the season to tie the game back up at 4-4.
The game wouldn’t stay tied very long, however, as just 1:55 later it was the Silverbacks third line getting on the board.
Salmon Arm native Nathan Morin scored his fourth goal of the season from Nathan Mackie and Ethan Ullrick to put the visitors back up by a goal at 2:44.
The score stayed 5-4 in Salmon Arm’s favour for most of the period, until the dying minutes when the Bucks pulled their goalie desperately seeking an equalizer.
With a 6-on-5 man-power advantage, Cranbrook was able to win a battle on the side boards and Tyson Dyck was fed the puck coming in from the top of the circles.
Dyck fired home his team-leading 22nd goal of the season from Johnson and Noah Quinn to tie the game 5-5 at 18:33 of the final regulation period.
The Bucks outshot Salmon Arm 16-11 in the third, and more importantly outscored the Silverbacks 2-1 in the period to force overtime.
The five minute overtime period featured exciting, back-and-forth action with both teams getting chances to end the game.
Cranbrook once again outshot Salmon Arm in overtime, this time by a 3-2 margin, but there would be no scoring as this game went the distance.
After a scoreless overtime, the game remained tied 5-5 through 65 minutes and required a shootout to determine a winner.
In the game-deciding skills competition, the Silverbacks selected Serdachny, Tassy and Tucker Hartmann, but Airey stood tall in the Bucks net to not allow a goal.
The Bucks went with Hansson who scored, then Smith was stopped by Say, before Quinn tallied to end the game.
Cranbrook battled until the bitter end to hand Salmon Arm a rare defeat, and pick themselves up a huge two points in the standings.
After coming into the game midway through the first period, Airey stopped 21 of 24 shots he faced to play a huge role in the come-from-behind win.
Cranbrook’s victory over the Silverbacks clinches the season series with one game to go, as the Bucks have taken three of the first four from Salmon Arm;
Five games (3-1-0)
- Nov. 13: @ Salmon Arm (4-0 W)
- Nov. 14: @ Salmon Arm (2-1 W)
- Jan. 28: vs Salmon Arm (3-0 L)
- Jan. 29: vs Salmon Arm (6-5 SOW)
- Mar. 3: vs Salmon Arm (7pm)
The highlights from Saturday’s 6-5 shootout victory can be viewed below, courtesy of Cranbrook’s YouTube channel.
The post-game recap from the Bucks website can be found here.
Cranbrook is back in action on Wednesday when they travel to Wenatchee looking for redemption against the Wild, after suffering back-to-back losses south of the border last week.