The ’Backs record against bitter division rivals, Vernon, remains unblemished after two wins over the weekend in a home-and-home series.
The Silverbacks top goal scorer Ross Heidt scored a pair of goals in his team’s opening 20-minute offensive outburst that saw them score five goals in the first. Heidt scored the opening goal just over two-and- a-half minutes into the game, which head coach Brandon West says was a result of his side’s intense focus before the game.
“The level of intensity was really high right off the bat. The guys were chomping at the bit to get going even before the start of the game, and I think that is what helped to fuel our game,” said West.
Vernon’s Christian Cakebread found an equalizer shortly after Heidt’s opener but Chase Zieky, Heidt, Josh Laframboise and Carson Bolduc answered back in a 24-shot first period. The final 40 minutes of the game were scoreless as Angus Redmond returned from injury, making 27 saves, to notch his 13th win of the season.
“Vernon had a good push in the second but we defended well and the game became a lot tighter. Our level of play fluctuated after the first, and we didn’t create a lot of chances the rest of the game,” said West.
On Saturday evening the ’Backs were able to outlast the Vipers third period rally in the return game of the home-and-home series to win 4-3.
“We executed our game plan well. Vernon came out with a good response in front of their own fans after Friday night.”
The game’s first star, Josh Blanchard scored the lone goal in the first period before defenceman Kodi Schwarz doubled the lead for the Silverbacks in the second.
Odeen Tufto’s power-play marker got Vernon to within a goal six minutes before the second intermission, but power-play goals by Zieky and Damian Chrcek increased the ’Backs lead to 4-1.
Callum Volpe and Tufto each scored in the third to chip away the Silverbacks’ lead, but were unable to get any closer as Salmon Arm hung on for the victory.
“It was a slow game, there wasn’t a lot of pace and it was difficult for the guys to get momentum going because of all the whistles,” said West.
Nick Hutchison will remain sidelined with an upper-body injury, which West says will be monitored on a week-to-week basis.
In positive news, defenceman Cameron Trott is one of 60 junior hockey players to be invited to the Team Canada West selection camp for the World Junior A Hockey Challenge.
“Cam is extremely deserving of the opportunity to represent his country. He put in a tremendous amount of work to crack our roster this summer and it is showing off. We are all very proud of his achievement,” said West.
The 18-year-old Anmore, B.C. native has registered 15 points in 27 games in his rookie year with the club. The camp begins next weekend in Leduc, Alta., which means Trott will miss the upcoming home games against Langley on Saturday, and Cowichan Valley on Sunday.
“We have got some time to work on some special team scenarios and tighten up on a few areas of our game before the next couple weeks,” said West.
“We have the opportunity to play some very good teams in the coming weeks and a chance to gain some ground.”
After the back-to-back victories against Vernon on the weekend, the Silverbacks now find themselves ranked 14 in the national Pointstreak CJHL Top 20 weekly rankings, one spot above Chilliwack.
The ’Backs went 7-2 in the month of November, and boast a 18-6-2-1 record and sit in third place in the league, and second in the Interior Division.