The Salmon Arm Silverbacks hit the ice with determination to start 2019 off right, spinning out a decisive 3-1 victory over the Penticton Vees in their first game of the new year.
It wasn’t all champagne and roses for the Salmon Arm squad, however, as they faced a hefty series of tough penalty-kills over the course of the game, chalking up a win despite this.
During the first period against the Vees on Jan. 4, the numbers might show the Silverbacks’ being down by a few shots on goal, but all attempts were stonewalled by Matthew Armitage in net for Salmon Arm. The Silverbacks remained scoreless as well during the opening period, heading into the second with no advantage either way.
Coming into the middle period, Salmon Arm’s run of penalty kills would begin in earnest. The ‘Backs somehow managed to come out unscathed after a pair of five-on-three sessions before Wyatt Marlow scored his first BCHL goal against the Vees. Aiden Jenner was tagged on the assist for this one, making the shot which Marlow picked up on the rebound for the goal.
Not wanting to let this first point go unanswered, Penticton’s Andre Ghantous was quick to reply with a goal for the Vees. This goal came after Salmon Arm made a push to clear the puck from their zone, coming off a little slow on the play and being countered by the Vees who pushed right back for the goal.
The final frame started at a 1-1 stalemate, but the Silverbacks would take back the lead and hold it right up to the buzzer. Hudson Schandor made the Silverbacks’ next goal, catching a pass from Nick Unruh and slapping it home for a goal that, while not the last, effectively sealed the game for Salmon Arm.
Close to the end of the third, Penticton would pull their goaltender with just over two minutes to go. The extra man on the ice didn’t give them too much of an edge, however, and Trevor Adams would pick up a goal on the empty net off a pass from Jonathan Krahn, making it a 3-1 finish.
Matthew Armitage was singled out as one of the key players for the Silverbacks during this game, stopping 37 of 38 shots fired his way, even amidst a series of tough penalty kills. Aiden Jenner was also given a nod, as he has managed to snag a point in every game against Penticton this season.
The following night, after their first win on the road in 2019, the Silverbacks spun out another win against the Surrey Eagles, earning a 6-2 victory in their first home game of the year.
Scoring was opened up by the Silverbacks 10 minutes into the first, with Hudson Schandor sneaking a short-handed goal past the Eagles’ goaltender off the assist from Aiden Jenner. He came in tight to the net and, despite Surrey’s goalie getting a bit of a hand on it, the puck slid under his pads and squeaked past the goal-line.
The lead was a short-lived one, however, as Surrey’s Matthew McKim would turn around and score in the same power-play just 40 seconds later. Surrey would break the stalemate and take a 2-1 lead before the end of the period, with Brandon Santa Juana earning a goal, but the remainder of the game was in Salmon Arm’s favour.
In the second, Nick Unruh fired in his 12th goal of the season, assisted by Schandor and Noah Wakeford, with Justin Wilson scoring just 20 seconds later, assisted by Olson Werenka and Sam MacBean. John Little scored Salmon Arm’s fourth goal of the game on a power play with seven minutes left, assisted by Werenka and Akito Hirose.
In the third, Unruh sniped his second of the game late in the period, unassisted. With a minute left, Jenner added a goal to his earlier assist with the help of captain Sol Seibel and MacBean, sealing the game in a 6-2 victory for the Silverbacks.
The Silverbacks’ hopes for a three-game sweep in their first weekend back on the ice after the holidays were dashed by the Vees on Sunday during their grudge match, as the Penticton squad scored a 5-3 victory.
Salmon Arm opened the scoring right off the buzzer, with Justin Wilson getting the back of the net off the assist from Trevor Adams and retaking his place as the team’s top scorer. Penticton’s Massimo Rizzo would tie things up at the nine- minute mark, however, and it would stay 1-1 until the second.
This time, it was Penticton’s turn to ring the goal buzzer in the first minute, with Rizzo scoring his second goal of the game 55 seconds into the period. Cole Nisse brought things back to a stalemate at six minutes, scoring his second goal of the season off the assist from Seibel and Wilson.
In the third, the Silverbacks caught a truly unlucky break early on in the period that would be decisive for Penticton. Armitage lost his stick in the net, and a shot from James Miller was deflected off a Silverbacks’ player and across the goal line. The Vees took the initiative and fired off two more goals in just four minutes, steadily widening the gap.
Wilson would come in to make it 5-3 with his 16th goal of the season, but the score would lie at 5-3 until the final buzzer.
The Silverbacks hit the ice in Vernon this Friday, Jan. 11, looking to keep their perfect streak against the Vipers alive. On Saturday, Jan. 12, the Powell River Kings face off against the Silverbacks at the Shaw Centre, and Nanaimo is next in line on Sunday, Jan. 13.