’Backs blast rival Vipers at home

Getting a win in the home-opener of the season in front of an enthusiastic crowd is always sweet

  • Sep. 17, 2013 12:00 p.m.
Player of the week: Alex Gillies

Player of the week: Alex Gillies

Getting a win in the home-opener of the season in front of an enthusiastic crowd is always sweet, but to do it over the rival team from down the road makes it even better.

The Salmon Arm SilverBacks scored a pair of victories over the Vernon Vipers by scores of 6-1 on Friday at Shaw Centre and 6-5 in double overtime Saturday in Vernon.

Alex Gillies scored the winner both nights and had five goals on the weekend to earn the BCHL player of the week honours. Gillies, a Vernon native, notched a hat trick including the overtime winner Saturday on a breakaway, moments after ’Backs goalie Angus Redmond denied Demico Hannoun on a penalty shot. Assistant coach Brandon West couldn’t have scripted it much better.

“We wanted to see a better start from our guys on Saturday but, knowing it was their home-opener, we knew it was going to be tough,” said West. “I think both nights were great games. Vernon plays a fast, physical game like us… (They) competed hard both nights.”

Friday at Shaw Centre, West could sense the players were full of anticipation for their first regular-season home game and he was pleased to see them come through with a convincing win for the fans.

“Our guys were excited to get the season going and whether it was nerves or jitters, the guys were looking forward to this game,” said West.

The ’Backs overcame the anxiousness and captain Blake Box revved up the crowd with a spirited tilt against Vipers captain Ryan Renz.

“That really sparked our building,” said West. “We could hear the noise behind us… It gave us an extra lift.”

Salmon Arm scored a goal in the first, two in the second and three in the third to seal the deal. First star Colton Thibault opened the scoring and later added the insurance goal. Gillies was the story of the weekend though, and right now he’s playing the part of the trigger man on a line with Landon Smith and Evan Anderson. Gillies’ seven goals leads the BCHL.

Another positive was the team’s penalty-killing performance which held the Snakes 0-11 on the weekend. Up and down the lineup, the SilverBacks’ are buying into the concept and West says it’s tough to tell what the top group of penalty killers is.

“Right now, the penalty kill is doing a fantastic job and it’s not just one guy,” said West. “Speaking with our staff before the season, we wanted to have a good penalty kill… everyone has done such a good job competing.”

That will have to continue this weekend going into a home-and-home set against the West Kelowna Warriors, who are coming off two wins over Merritt. Salmon Arm hosts the Warriors Saturday at 7 p.m.