Fighting back: The Silverbacks’ Taro Hirose is held up by the Vees’ Riley Alferd as they battle for a loose puck at the Shaw Centre on Friday

’Backs gain ground on Centennials

Over the weekend the Silverbacks pulled to within six points of the fourth-place Merritt Centennials

Over the weekend the Silverbacks pulled to within six points of the fourth-place Merritt Centennials.

Salmon Arm opened up their three-game weekend last Wednesday against the Mainland Division leaders, Chilliwack Chiefs.

The two teams met for the first time this season two weeks ago in the Mainland Division.

The contest went the way of the home team, 3-2.

Taro Hirose was in the ’Backs’ starting lineup Wednesday as the Calgary native failed to make the final Team Canada West roster for the 2014 World Junior A Challenge.

Joshua Laframboise gave the Silverbacks the 1-0 lead midway through the first period on the man advantage, with assists coming from Hirose and Andrew Farny.

Just 28 seconds later, Chilliwack’s Tipper Higgins silenced the Shaw Centre, scoring his seventh of the season.

The Chiefs took a 2-1 lead into the second period.

With Chase Priskie in the box for slashing, Colton Thibault took matters into his own hands, intercepting a pass and breaking in to score the Silverbacks’ fourth short-handed goal of the season.

Halfway through the second frame, Mason Boh scored on a weak shot that found its way through the pads of Angus Redmond.

That was all the game action Redmond would see as he was pulled for Zach Dyment.

A minute into Dyment’s night Jake Larson scored his first of two goals on the night.

Bryden Marsh scored his second power-play goal and seventh of the season, bringing Salmon Arm to within one goal heading to the third period.

Chilliwack’s Jake Larson scored his second of the night on an empty net, putting the game to bed.

Friday night, the Silverbacks hosted Penticton, the BCHL’s best team, for the third time this season.

Penticton was without four of their starters, Demico Hannoun, Tyson Jost, Gabe Bast and Dante Fabbro, as they are representing Team Canada West at the 2014 World Junior A Challenge.

The Salvation Army was also hosting its 14 Annual Teddy Bear Toss, inviting fans to toss a teddy bear onto the ice when the Silverbacks scored their first goal of the game.

Fans were on the edge of their seats watching nervously and eagerly anticipating the ’Backs’ first goal, oohing and awing at every shot on net.

Lewis Zerter-Gossage scored the game-opening goal with a minute-and-a-half left in the opening frame.

Two minutes into the second period the Vees struck again, defenceman Dakota Conroy scoring on the power play.

At 10:36 of the middle frame, Phil Middleton’s blast from the point on the power play found the back of the net, beating Hunter Miska and giving way to more than 400 teddy bears being tossed onto the ice.

Both teams battled well with few penalties, allowing for the game to flow.

After being pulled in the game on Wednesday, the Silverbacks number one, Angus Redmond, played exceptionally well, making many key saves throughout the game.

The ’Backs’ latest signing, Branden Wagner, scored his first as a Silverback when he broke in down the right wing and snapped a high shot over the glove of Miska, forcing overtime.

The Shaw Centre erupted in the first overtime period when it appeared that Shane Danyluk scored the game winner.

However, the goal was disallowed as the referee claimed the puck never crossed the line.

With 23 seconds remaining in the second overtime period, Chase Priskie was hauled down in the offensive zone and awarded a penalty shot.

With the game on his stick, Priskie successfully deeked out Miska, but was unable to find the handle on the puck to convert the penalty shot.

The game ended in a 2-2 draw.

On Saturday the Silverbacks made the two hour drive to the Nicola Valley to face Merritt.

The Centennials held a 2-1 lead heading into the final period.

A minute-and-a-half into the third, Merritt scored to go two up.

The Silverbacks offence soon exploded, scoring five unanswered goals to pull to within six points of Merritt for a playoff spot.

Scoring was led by Carson Bolduc, netting a hat trick. Thibault added two of his own and Ross Heidt scored a goal to round out the scoring.

The Silverbacks will face the Trail Smoke Eaters in a home and home series opening up at the Shaw Centre next Friday at 7 p.m.

 

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