It was in. That's as blunt as it can be put, there is video evidence of it hitting the back-bar of the net and popping straight out and into the feet of Matthew Greenfield. In the end, the Salmon Arm Silverbacks were one shot better as Rylan Ferster put it, in a wild 6-5 game that took over three and a half hours to play (and that's with just half an OT period).
This game could have been over fast. The Silverbacks came out on fire early on in the hockey game and took it to what looked to be a scared and timid Warriors team, at least when it came to carrying the puck. Kyle Marino got the fireworks started on a huge hit behind the net, before another couple big hits were dished out in the opening few minutes.
Within the big checks, it was a pair of goals from Salmon Arm that gave them the life they needed early on. West Kelowna learned a wide-open Ross Heidt is a bad idea, then Marcus Mitchell drove the front of the net and found the puck to put past Matthew Greenfield, as the 'Backs scored on two of their first three shots.
West Kelowna never really looked comfortable until after the media timeout, and Connor Sodergren finally gave the 1000+ fans something to get excited about. He would find a loose puck in front on a Warriors net drive, and tuck it into the cage to cut the lead down to one, where it would finish after 20 minutes.
It would be a Warriors lead less than five minutes into the middle stanza, but Liam Blackburn first had to tie the game. Off a faceoff, Kristian Blumenschein tried to get to the front of the goal for a shot, but the puck rolled off his stick, right to Blackburn who beat Redmond on the glove side to tie it at two. Right after that, it was Mitchell off in the box for slashing, and Bryan Basilico gloved down the puck at centre, and his shot beat the shoulder of Redmond for the 3-2 Warriors lead.
West Kelowna would only have a lead for a total of 5:41 in the hockey game as Nick Hutchison equalized at 10:38, and Kodi Schwarz pinballed one past Greenfield on the power play to put Salmon Arm ahead once again after 40 minutes.
The Warriors equalized at 7:08 from Kylar Hope, in what was the most frantic minute of the entire hockey game. After Hope's goal, Chase Zieky was hauled down by a Warriors defender and Zieky awarded a penalty shot. Zieky would use a lot of speed on the attempt, but Greenfield shut the door with a right pad save to keep it tied. Off the next face-off, Josh Laframboise threw one towards the goal that eluded Greenfield's pad and made it 5-4.
Quin Foreman made the most of what was limited ice, as his luck turned the game back square, tying the game at five by hitting Redmond with a shot that bounced off Ryley Booth and over the line to five the Warriors hope heading to the extra frame.
Salmon Arm was the better team in OT, having glorious chances early, and out-shooting the Warriors 11-6 in the extra session. The Zieky marker came at 10:38 off a broken play that popped out in front of the Warriors net with a pair of players sprawling to try and block it, but it ended the hockey game with a ping.
Game Thoughts (from the box)
- West Kelowna looked tentative and nervous to open the hockey game, unable to handle passes, create any offense, and struggled putting things together and found themselves down early. Battling back throughout the night was a testament to the character of this group, but give the Silverbacks a ton of credit too for their start. They came out flying and took advantage of Warriors mistakes and put them in the back of the net.
- Bryan Basilico was really good for the Warriors tonight and deserving of his first star. With one goal and one assist, he kept the energy up with Kyle Marino and Connor Sodergren throughout the night, plus added a couple of good scoring chances. As a 20-year-old playing his first BCHL playoff game, he didn't look out of place.
- Two Warriors had to switch jerseys tonight due to the blood they shed. First it was Jake Harrison who got caught by a high stick in the first period and switched to #5, then a scary incident involving Tyler Anderson. A rolling puck slapshot hit Anderson in the face, and after the whistle blew a trail of blood made its way to the Warriors bench. Like any good Canadian kid, he was back in the third period with a cage on and finished the game.
- Matthew Greenfield tonight was not the Matthew Greenfield that Warriors fans have seen. A couple tough breaks for him tonight on shots/rebounds he probably feels he should have had, but he had to deal with a lot of traffic all night long as the Silverbacks constantly applied pressure to the front of the net. He did make some really big saves to get the Warriors to OT though.